1. Skellig Michael, Ireland
The island where “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was filmed in 2015 has been growing in popularity ever since. Popular appeal, combined with an increase in boat permits, led to almost 17,000 visitors in 2017 and about 7,000 mid-May and mid-July 2018. The UNESCO World Heritage Site allows no more than 180 tourists per day.
2. Mogao Grottoes, China
The 1,600 year-old Mogao Grottoes are known for their Buddhist art and were China’s first UNESCO site. The Library Cave uncovered there has been called “the world’s greatest discovery of ancient Oriental culture.” The maximum number of daily visitors is 6,000. During peak season, the daily limit is 10,000 every other day.
3. Venice, Italy
The “City of Water” has adapted aggressive strategies to limit the number of tourists. The annual total has reached 30 million, whereas only about 50,000 people actually live in the city. Tourists visiting for the day — averaging as many as 70,000 — may soon be charged an entrance fee of about $11.50. During peak times, tourists and locals can be separated, with visitors being redirected to popular places while some areas are only open to locals. At one point, the city installed gates at the end of two famous bridges to keep tourists out. And big cruise ships are no longer allowed to steam past the popular St Mark’s Square.
Similar to Venice, one of Spain’s most visited cities has been struggling with too many tourists for decades. The city of 1.7 million sees about 32 million tourists a year. No official limit on tourists has been imposed yet, but talk about such restrictions seems to never end. A 2017 law limited the number of beds available in hotels and rentals, imposed a moratorium on building new hotels, and stopped the issuing of licenses for new tourist apartments.
Locals are not the only ones who say the city is flooded with tourists; visitors themselves agree their high number of about 20 million a year is a problem. A plan to ban Airbnbs in busy neighborhoods and to limit rentals to 30 days a year outside of them was revealed in May 2018. Passengers visiting on boats will no longer be allowed to disembark in the city center. The plan included a tourist tax hike to 7%, up from 6% in the city and 4% outside it. Other proposals include cruises paying a fee of about $9 per passenger starting this year.