How to Deal with the Tourist Restrictions at Cinque Terre and Machu Picchu

I’m a big traveler, not just because I plan destination weddings all over the world, but because I love to travel!  I love experiencing the culture, the food, the sights and the people of a place.  So, naturally I like to keep up on what is going on in the world.

If you hadn’t heard, there have been some major changes to some major sites across the world.  In particular, two major destinations have now added tourist restrictions limiting the number of people who can visit the location.  The two destinations are Cinque Terre on the coast of Italy and Machu Picchu in Peru.  Both of these locations have seen a major influx of tourists over the last few years and as you can imagine it’s starting to affect the locations themselves.  In an effort to protect the area, each location has created some tourist restrictions.

Machu Picchu, UNESCO World Heritage Site for Inca Ruins in Peru now with tourist restrictions

(Photo credit: Getty)

I totally understand the need to put restrictions in place.  Sites like Machu Picchu and Cinque Terre are UNESCO world heritage sites and losing that piece of history would be a travesty. If millions of people trample all over it every year, it’s bound to be eroding and someday may disappear.

I myself went to Mont St. Michel in France last year which is also now on the endangered list as well for the very same reason.  There are just too many tourists and I can attest to that.  When I was there, which was off season mind you, there were bus loads of tourists just streaming in every day.  I was not one of those, but I can easily see how that would take a toll not only on the physical structures and grounds but the people who live there as well.  I can only imagine that more locations will get added to the endangered list as time goes on.

Cinque Terre, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy now with tourist restrictions

(Photo credit: Getty)

So, what does this mean for us and for you, my fellow traveler and explorer?  Well, I think it means things have to change and here are 3 ways to best to handle the new tourist restrictions to Cinque Terre and Machu Picchu.

1. If you want to visit an endangered site, plan ahead.  Spontaneous trips to these tourist restricted sites are a thing of the past.  If you do want to go, you’ll want to make sure you plan in advance and get the appropriate tickets and/or the right guide (in Machu Picchu’s case) to ensure that you meet all the requirements.  The worst thing would be to plan a trip there, show up and not be able to actually go because you didn’t follow the rules.

2. Head to a location that is less crowded and with a more authentic feel.  National Geographic has a list of the Top 10 Inca Ruins that are not Machu Picchu and some of them look just as amazing.  Instead of Cinque Terre, you could head to somewhere like Puglia instead for a much more authentic and less touristy small village experience.

3. Treat the world with care.  The reason these sites became endangered which leads to creating tourist restrictions is because there are too many people and it’s not being cared for.  So, besides exploring locations that are less popular and more untouched, be cognizant of your impact where ever you go whether that is Paris or a cave in Vietnam.  Be an observer and a participant in the experience, but don’t leave behind garbage or take things.  Protect these beautiful places so that others can enjoy it as it is meant to be.

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