Overtourism | 8 Tourist Sites That Had To Close
Overcrowding at some of the world’s most famous tourist attractions has caused governments to close these attractions indefinitely.
In Thailand, for example, the government closed down five islands and the famous Maya Bay after tourists destroyed the ecosystems.
Walker Canyon in California and a farm in Ontario, Canada, both had to close down after tourists swarmed the destinations to see flowers bloom.
Whether at a Disney park or a famous city, tourists are known for sometimes behaving poorly. In some instances, these behaviors have caused entire tourist attractions to shut down.
In fact, all over the world, governments and environmentalists are closing popular tourist destinations after overcrowding badly damaged their ecosystems.
From Canada to Thailand, here are places that had to close due to overcrowding.
One Mount Everest base camp is now closed to tourists. Climbers make their way to the summit of Mount Everest
On the Tibetan side of Mount Everest, tourists were able to take a car to a base camp, making it a popular tourist destination. In fact, 40,000 people visited the base camp in 2015.
The overcrowding at the base camp has created a significant trash problem, according to Conde Nast Traveller. Recent clean-ups found 8 tons of trash, which included human feces and climbing equipment. As a response, the Chinese government decided to shut down the base camp to tourists in February 2019. During this closure, they will focus on getting rid of the trash that tourists have left behind.
The Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in Iceland has appeared on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and in Justin Bieber’s music video for “I’ll Show You.” As the canyon became a famous landmark, tourists began flocking to it. In fact, the Environment Agency of Iceland reports that about 1 million people have visited the site since Bieber’s video was released in 2015.
The influx of visitors has caused damage to the site, which prompted the country to implement a visitor ban, according to the AP. Despite the ban, tourists have snuck into the canyon overnight.
The Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam had to close due to overcrowding.
The Bloemenmarkt used to be a floating flower market in Amsterdam, sitting atop barges in the canal — but the last flower shop closed in April 2019.
Michael Saarlos, the last of Bloemenmarkt’s florists, said he blames both overcrowding and tourists who blocked locals from buying his flowers.
“I have had enough of all the tourists who ruin my trade,” Saarlos told Dutch newspaper De Trouw. “If they are here with a group, I can no longer see my own customers.”
Maya Bay in Thailand will be closed for years after over tourism damaged the bay. Maya Bay in Thailand is only accessible by boat and is now closed to tourists. Shutterstock
Thailand’s Maya Bay made a name for itself after it became the backdrop for Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2000 film “The Beach.” Since then, 5,000 people visited the beach and bay every day.
As a result, the bay’s ecosystem has been badly damaged, causing the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation in Thailand to close Maya Bay indefinitely in 2018.
The beach has a tentative reopening date of June 2021.
Thailand also closed entire islands after tourism damaged its ecosystems. Tourists fill up a beach in Thailand.
In 2017, Thailand closed off the islands of KohKhaiNok, KohKhai Nui, KohTachai, and KohKhaiNai to all tourists indefinitely. The beaches were hosting 1,000 tourists at a time, despite the fact that they can only comfortably accommodate 70 people.
This large number of tourists badly damaged the ecosystem of the beaches, according to Travel and Leisure. Boat anchors and swimmers, for example, have destroyed 80% of the reefs in the area.
Tunya Netithammakul, Director General of the department of national parks, wildlife and plant conservation told the Bankok Post that the overcrowding has caused “the degradation of natural resources and the environment” and something must be done “before the damage is beyond repair.”
In February of 2019, Lake Elsinore, California, experienced a “super bloom” of poppies in Walker Canyon. The natural phenomenon attracted an influx of tourists to the small town, creating traffic jams, overcrowding, and damage to the fields. In fact, it’s estimated that 50,000 tourists descended on the town in just one day to get a glimpse of the poppies.
Eventually, the town of Lake Elsinore had to temporarily close Walker Canyon and the surrounding fields to protect the residents and reduce traffic, according to The Washington Post.
“This weekend has been unbearable,” the city said in a statement. “We know it has been miserable and has caused unnecessary hardships for our entire community.”
Marlene and Brad Bogle opened up their Ontario, Canada, sunflower farm to the public, charging $7.50 per adult entrance. But tourists searching for the perfect Instagram picture quickly descended on the farm. A policeman counted 7,000 cars surrounding the farm at one time.
Eventually, the Bogle family decided to shut down the farm indefinitely because it could not handle the influx of people. The tourists did not take the closing lightly. Even though the farm was shut down, Bogle said some tourists would park on side streets and enter the sunflower fields a different way.
“I used to love these flowers,” Marlene told The Globe and Mail. “Now I can’t stand ’em.”
Komodo Island in Indonesia has been closed to tourists after they threatened its wildlife.
In April 2019, the Indonesian government announced it will be closing one of its most popular tourist destinations, Komodo island, until 2020. The announcement comes after the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry said it caught smugglers trying to steal 41 of the 1,800 Komodo dragons that call the island home.