If you’re planning a trip abroad this summer, better make sure that where you plan on travelling to is still accepting tourists before you start packing your bags.
That’s because many places in Europe, Southeast Asia, Asia, South America and East Africa are putting measures in place to limit the number of tourists they welcome every year – some even going as far as banning tourists altogether.
One recent place to impose limits on tourism is Barcelona, Spain.
According to Time, Barcelona had an estimated 32 million tourists visit the city last year alone.
Because of the steady influx of travellers to the area over the years, more and more hotels and tourist hot spots have been popping up which has caused property taxes to soar and locals to flee.
Now Barcelona’s resident population has dipped from just over three million in 1991 to 1.6 million.
Despite tourism bringing in 14 per cent of the city’s yearly revenue, Mayor Ada Colau put forth a strategic plan to curb tourism by 2020 earlier this year.
“If we don’t want to end up like Venice, we will have to put some kind of limit in Barcelona,” Colau told newspaper El Pais. “We can grow more, but I don’t know how much more.”
And that plan to limit tourism is already underway.
So far, Barcelona has put the brakes on any new hotels from opening in the centre of the city, even if an existing hotel closes, The Telegraph reports.
Barcelona will also start imposing the highest property taxes on vacation apartments and will no longer be approving licenses for new vacation apartments.
“We understand that other people love our city,” Barcelona’s deputy mayor in charge of urban planning, told NPR. “But we’re becoming a tourist theme park, every time a grocery store closes and a souvenir shop takes its place.”
But Barcelona is not the first place to take such action against tourists.
Cinque Terre, a cluster of five villages located in northern Italy along the Ligurian Sea, has also imposed limits on tourists.
According to Condé Nast Traveler, Cinque Terre saw 2.5 million visitors in 2015 thanks mainly to an increase in visiting cruise ships.
However, area officials announced last year that they are limiting the number of tourists who are allowed to visit to 1.5 million per year, citing environmental concerns as their main motivator in their decision.
Tourists will now have to buy a ticket before they visit Cinque Terre.
Situated directly to the east of Nepal, the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan is another place that limits foreign visitors – with the exception of anyone holding Indian, Maldivian or Bangladeshi passports, Condé Nast says.
In 2015, 155,121 tourists visited Bhutan – 57,537 of which were international travellers.
Anyone looking to travel to Bhutan must get a visa and book their holiday plans through a licensed Bhutanese tour agency. They also must pay either US$200 or US$250 a day in advance to the Tourism Council of Bhutan, which covers your accommodations, meals, guides and transport, and a tourism royalty that goes towards education and health care.
Then there’s Koh Tachai, an island in Thailand’s Similan National park, which has been closed indefinitely since last October due to environmental concerns, The Telegraph says.
Thai authorities have also announced that they will be limiting the number of tourist activities on three other islands located off the coast of Phuket: Koh Khai Nok, Koh Khai Nui and Koh Khai Nai.
What does this mean for Canadian travellers? Well, it could inspire Canadians to travel elsewhere.
According to Statistics Canada, about 400,000 Canadians travelled to Spain in 2015, making Spain among the top 10 countries Canadians love to visit.
Other areas in the world with limits on tourism reported by Condé Nast include Zion National park in Utah, Peru’s Machu Picchu, Greece’s Santorini and Lord Howe Island in Australia.