South Tyrol is a tourism magnet thanks to its picture-perfect charms, Source: Depositphotos

This Italian province has introduced a cap on annual tourist stays

This Italian province has introduced a cap on annual tourist stays

Could South Tyrol’s policy become a blueprint for other popular destinations suffering from overtourism?

The return to pre-pandemic reality in European tourism has been a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it heralded the recovery of an important economic sector and a sense of freedom, but it also underlined the continuing strain on limited resources. And as things appear to be slated for another arid summer, environmental concerns and water shortages are starting to be accounted for in tourism planning.

Italy is one country, which suffers from overtourism at many of its cities and natural sites, and this is compounded by environmental concerns. In search of a solution, the predominantly German-speaking Province of Bolzano (also known as South Tyrol) located in the Alps has decided to limit the beds and overnight stays available to external visitors per year.

The threshold of 34 million overnight stays corresponds to the level reached in South Tyrol in 2019 before the COVID restrictions went into force. The rules have been studied starting from that threshold and are based on strict control of the number of beds in all tourist facilities. 

By the end of June, hotels, B&Bs and campsites must inform the municipalities how many beds they have available based on the places declared in 2019 or on extensions for which authorization has already been requested.

The quota will be shared between the municipalities in the province

South Tyrol is especially popular among lovers of nature and sports tourism, as it contains some of Italy’s most famous ski resorts, such as Val Gardena.

Each municipality in the province, though, will have a fixed quota of bed places from which to derive the total annual overnight stays, according to forecasts of 34 million. Anyone who wants to open a hotel or a B&B must ask for permission from the municipality, which will not be able to issue new authorizations if it has no places available. If a hotel or a B&B closes, the beds are made available again by the municipalities which will be able to assign them to the tourist entrepreneurs who have requested them.

South Tyrol’s Tourism Councilor Arnold Schuler explained that the limit on bed places was introduced because the administrators realized that the number of tourists who arrived in 2019 can no longer be exceeded. 

In addition to crowding in the streets, the increase in accommodation offered on platforms such as Airbnb has become a problem, especially in the larger municipalities because it is difficult for the inhabitants to find houses to rent or buy," he said, quoted by Il Post.

According to data released by the autonomous province, from 2016 to 2020 the number of South Tyrolean accommodations on Airbnb quadrupled: from 1,100 to just under 4,000. Data for the last two years are not available, but it can be assumed that the number has increased further.



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