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Published on Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Overtourism crisis spreads



Photo by Addy Cameron-Huff


Venice to charge entrance - Australia closes beach - Scotland may levy charge - Star Wars site in danger - Travel Foundation report announced


Overtourism is a massive threat to fragile places but finally destinations are taking action.


In Venice local authorities assaulted by 24 million tourists a year, is to charge visitors a tax up to 10 euros each in a move now approved by the Italian government.


The new measure, which will bring in tens of millions of euros a year in revenue to the World Heritage city, was contained in Italy's 2019 budget, which was passed recently after months of talks with Brussels.


Venetians have long complained that day-trippers and cruise ship passengers enjoy all that the lagoon city has to offer without making much of an economic contribution.


Of the 24 million tourists who visit Venice each year, around 15 million are day-trippers. Those that bring their own food do not even spend money in the city's bars, restaurants and cafes. They will now have to pay the new charge, which will is likely to be included in the cost of their bus, train or cruise ship ticket and then passed onto the city authorities.


The tax will range from €2.50 to €10 euros per person, depending on whether visitors arrive in low or high season.


"This is a historic day," said Luigi Brugnaro, Venice's mayor, who explained that the extra money would be put towards meeting the elevated costs of maintaining and cleaning the city.


Venice's peculiar geography - a network of canals and pedestrian alleyways - means that services such as rubbish disposal are up to 40% more expensive than in other Italian cities.


In high season, council workers have to empty public bins every half an hour, such is the amount of rubbish generated by the tourist hordes.


In another World Heritage Site Skellig Michael off the coast of Kerry the number of visitors is one and a half times what is considered environmentally sustainable.


The total number for the 2018 season running between mid-May to the end of September came to 16,792, is 5,692 visits in excess of the 11,100 cap the outgoing management plan approved by Unesco considers "sustainable" for the sixth century site.


The success of Star Wars is largely positive in terms of local tourism but in terms of visitor numbers is putting undue strain on Skellig Michael as a leading Irish Unesco site and on the island's birds habitats


Even in Scotland's Isle of Skye things have got so bad that there is now a heated debate about a tourist tax to reduce numbers of visitors and to increase their benefits to the historic island.


And in Australia…


Thousands of drivers have been turned away from the New South Wales beach billed as having the world's whitest sand as the local council brainstorms solutions with residents over its booming popularity.


Shoalhaven city council has appointed traffic controllers to redirect visitors from the Hyams beach village in Jervis Bay, given its parking capacity is 400 but up to 5,000 vehicles are around each day during peak season.


"It has been loved to death," Hyams Beach Villagers Association member Lois Sparkes said on Sunday, pointing to the tens of thousands of #HyamsBeach photos on Instagram. "We are a social media phenomenon ... and everyone wants to come and see the white sand at Hyams beach."


The Travel Foundation has now partnered with Cornell University and EplerWood International to analyse how the more damaging impacts of tourism's rapid growth can be better understood and managed globally. The report will be published in March 2019. Go to http:// to get on the mailing list


Valere Tjolle



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