Due to fears of environmental damage caused by tourists, the popular Thai island, Koh Tachai, will close indefinitely on October 15. The island is closing so that both the island and nearby dive sites can recover from the environmental damage caused by visitors.
Koh Tachai is just one of many other tourists spots closing its doors to visitors. Here are some other famous sites around the globe that are telling tourists to stay home.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Italy's Cinque Terre is the latest popular tourist site to limit the number of allowable visitors—in this case, to a maximum of 1.5 million people per year. More than 2.5 million tourists visited last year, mainly because of an increased number of cruises adding the picturesque 14th century fishing villages as a shore excursion. (The villages do not have the infrastructure to handle the dramatic increase in visitors.) Now, once the 1.5 million cap has been reached—which will be tracked by pedometers along the trails—access to the paths between the five villages will be closed.
The small Himalayan country of Bhutan has vowed to stick to quality over quantity when it comes to tourism in this mountain-nestled Buddhist kingdom. The nation charges a minimum tourist fee of $200 per day, with the exception of visitors holding a passport from India, Bangladesh, or the Maldives. All trips must be booked through a local tour operator or international partner, and visas are strictly enforced at entry.
Lord Howe Island, Australia
This island off the coast of Australia between Brisbane and Sydney limits daily visitors to just 400 people at any given time. Because of this, it is strongly encouraged to book accommodation before flights. Besides chartering your own boat, flying is the only way to get to the island.
Skelling Michael, Ireland
The filming location of the final scene of caps its visitors at just 180 people per day and is only accessible via boat May to September. Few tours actually stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, so make sure you book the right tour if you don't want to just circle the island.
All tourism companies are required to have a permit to visit the continent as outlined in the Antarctic Treaty. There is also a limit on shore passengers from cruise ships to 100 at a time, and cruise ships with more than 500 passengers are prohibited from landing sites.
Machu Picchu, Peru
The famous Inca city in Peru caps visitors at 2,500 people per day and requires tickets be purchased in advance, especially during peak season (June to August). You'll need your passport number in order to buy a ticket, which can be purchased through the official Machu Picchu government website.
Mogao Grottoes, China
The famous site in Northern China limits the daily number of visitors to 6,000and, on alternating days during peak season, to 10,000, with tickets needing to be purchased in advance.
The Galapagos were listed as an endangered UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, with strict tourism restrictions enacted to preserve the island's geography and wildlife. Visitors to any of the protected areas in the Galapagos National Park must be accompanied by a licensed guide. About 97 percent of the islands are designated as protected, and all visits to these sites are coordinated by the park, which also carefully monitors the islands' ecological conditions.
Venice is sinking, and seas of tourists aren't helping—at least, that's the message the Italian city seems to send when proposals surface to cap visitor numbers. The city of canals sees upwards of 80,000 tourists some days, in addition to rising sea levels and increased flooding. Some locals in Venice say the tourist traffic is threatening the ports, canals, lagoon, and streets themselves as cruise ships and tour groups take over each summer.
Venice hasn't yet imposed a limit, but the collective groan of its people reverberates in the news each time infrastructure like new rail lines and subways to handle the masses are proposed. "All this speculation is threatening the town and the lagoon itself," the head of heritage group Italia Nostra has said, according to Deutsche Welle News. "They can eat Venice now, or leave it for the future."
Spain's most visited city has often sparked talk about separating itself from the rest of the nation (see Catalonia's failed separation referendum). Barcelona's mayor furthered that sentiment in 2015 when she suggested a tourism cap and halted all hotel licensing for up to a year, until the consequences of further increased tourism could be determined.
The plans were condemned by Barca's tourism minister, who said decreasing tourism would be a huge blow to the region's economy and likened it to Germany abandoning automobile production. There's no legitimate limit imposed yet, but every summer gives rise to the debate once again.
The whitewashed cliff-side homes of Santorini look like something out of a storybook—but the reality of visiting this scenic Greek island is that it's usually overrun with cruise tourists. Greece's Hellenic Ports Association recently announced it will cap the number of cruise tourists allowed to enter the island at 8,000 per day, a 20 percent reduction from peak days that saw up to 10,000 entries in 2015. Santorini ports were the most trafficked by cruise ships in the country last year, according to University of the Aegean research. Reducing them year by year could "ensure the best quality services and safeguard the environment," according to the association.
Like many dream destinations, Iceland's yearly tourist count is enormous in comparison to its population. Visitor numbers have doubled and even tripled in recent years, thanks in part to an increased presence by low-cost airlines like WOW and Norwegian Air Shuttle. The country's main concern is accommodating all its visitors, and a 2014 study by Iceland's tourism board concluded that it would be wise to limit visitors until infrastructure, mainly its roads, can better handle them all.
Koh Tachai, Thailand
Koh Tachai, Thailand, will close indefinitely on October 15. All marine national parks are closed in Thailand during monsoon season, from mid May to mid October, which means Koh Tachai is no longer allowing tourists. The island is in the Similan National Park and is a popular spot for both Thai and foreign tourists, especially divers.
The island is closing so that both the island and nearby dive sites can recover from the environmental damage caused by visitors. As Tunya Netithammakul, director general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation told the Bangkok Post, "We have to close it to allow the rehabilitation of the environment both on the island and in the sea without being disturbed by tourism activities before the damage is beyond repair."
Two deep dive sites within the island chain will remain open, but popular spots Koh Adang, Koh Rawi and Koh Hinngam, as well as diving spots will be closed. Netithammakul warns that some tour operators will still try to sell foreigners packages to the island, so be aware if you're traveling to Thailand soon.
"A beach on the island can hold up to 70 people. But sometimes the number of tourists was well over 1,000 on the beach, which was already crowded with food stalls and tour boats. This caused the island to quickly deteriorate. If it's not closed now, we'll lose Koh Tachai permanently," Asst. Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat, deputy dean of the Faculty of Fisheries of Kasetsart University, as told to the Bangkok Post.
Leave Your Comments