Italy‘s Province of South Tyrol has announced a proposal to limit on overnight visitors, as well as a ban on any new accommodation openings unless another has closed, as reported by CNN. The number of visitors will be capped to 2019 levels.
“At certain times of the year and in certain areas, it became a lot,” Arnold Schuler, the Bolzano provincial council member and tourism official who proposed the new legislation told CNN. “We reached the limit of our resources, we had problems with traffic, and residents have difficulty finding places to live.”
The proposal aims to limit access to the city as well, preventing mass tourism from compromising the delicate mountain ecosystems. Tourism council member Arnold Schuler has therefore put forward the proposal, which will be officially discussed in June. Should the council approve it, Bolzano would become the first city to quota tourist overnight stays.
We had reached the limit, so we took these measures to guarantee a better management of the flow of people.Arnold Schuler, Bolzano provincial council member
The limit on overnight stays is to apply not only to hotels, but also to room rentals and private individuals. As reported by the South Tyrol newspaper, the number of tourist beds in 2019 was 229,088. Over the following years, an additional 10,000 were created, which will soon be distributed among the various tourist accommodation facilities.
“The tourism sector is very important for us, for jobs and the economy, but we had reached the limit, so we took these measures to guarantee a better management of the flow of people, and to guarantee lodging for tourists,” Schuler said. “Tourists come here to hike and to see beautiful places, not to find themselves in a traffic jam.”
The proposal made in Bolzano is not the first aimed at limiting the consequences of unsustainable tourism. In 2022, for example, the Dolomiti low emission zone plan was activated in Trento, Bolzano and Belluno, which aims to limit the access of cars to some villages in the provinces, as well as the pollution produced by the vehicles.
A tourism quota plan has also been implemented in Veneto: Venice, to counter so-called overtourism, has blocked access to the city beyond a certain number. In Bolzano, the idea is the same, but it takes into account the different type of tourism going to Trentino Alto Adige, where stays are potentially longer than those in the city and where excessive numbers of visitors can compromise the balance of natural ecosystems.
Local media reported that on some weekends in April, it was physically impossible to advance in the area of the so-called “Largo Maradona.” A frightening situation, in case even the most trivial accident had occurred.
“You have to register to go to the lake, but that way you’re guaranteed access and we won’t have too many people there,” Schuler said, and underlined that officials will implement a reservation system in other areas of the region where needed too.