Last week, the five towns of Cinque Terre announced that they could no longer cope with the barrage of tourists making their way along the breathtaking coastal walkways. Tourist numbers will be capped and once the daily limit is reached, no more people will be allowed into the Unesco site.
It seems that Pompeii too is struggling from the high numbers of visitors traipsing round the ancient site – and one group in particular is thought to be to blame.
“Cruise-tourists are wearing out the ruins of Pompeii. The entrance steps of the Temple of Apollo, in particular, have been ruined by the influx of tourists,” claimed Adele Lagi, from Unesco, at a conference organized by the non-profit organization I Love Pompeii.
“Cruise tourists have a limited visiting time and so they always focus on the same route,” she explained. The Temple of Apollo is located along the preferred route, close to the entrance at Porta Marina Superiore.
Lagi's suggestion was to use social networks to divert tourists from the site by suggesting they instead visit one of the other archaeological sites nearby, which are just as impressive but less crowded.
“Tourists should know that there’s an untapped potential: Herculaneum receives 300,000 visits annually; the Villa Poppea only 30,000.” By contrast, around 3 million tourists set foot in Pompeii every year.
The focus of the conference, which took place on Saturday, was to discuss the planned railway hub at Pompeii, which would connect the ruins to major Italian cities as well as other archaeological sites in the area.
A spokesman from I Love Pompeii told The Local that the railway hub could “bring great benefit not just to Pompeii but to other sites in the area,” by distributing the flow of tourists more evenly between the key sites.
He added that the project was a long way from becoming a reality and would require co-ordination between the railway companies, local authorities and cultural institutions.
“It is an arduous, but necessary task,” he explained.
However, a press officer from the site told The Local that there was no need to turn tourists away from Pompeii.
“High numbers of tourists concentrated in a single place does cause damage, but the way to avoid that is to redirect the itineraries within Pompeii and promote different parts of the site, such as the exhibitions and less-visited areas,” she said.