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16 Places That Are No Longer Like They Were Before Because Of Overtourism

Locals are warning that their hometowns are becoming like Disneyland.

1. Barcelona, Spain

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Spain is experiencing a huge boom in tourism, particularly in Barcelona. The once-edgy and fashionable La Rambla, the city's main pedestrian thoroughfare, is now populated with souvenir shops, fast food chains and vast numbers of people.

The nearby Mercat de la Boqueria, which was the go-to market for a wide variety of ingredients and produce, is filled with tourists. And the Sagrada Familia and other Gaudi architectural masterpieces have long lines. Just like Disneyland.

And some locals are unhappy. During the peak visitor season in July, activists hijacked tour buses with anti-tourism signs and smoke flares. A plan to reclaim La Rambla for the locals is in motion, and officials have started to crackdown on illegal vacation rentals on Airbnb.

2. Palau

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Palau is nowhere near the top when it comes to visitor entry statistics, but with around 150,000 tourists arriving each year, the tiny Pacific island is paying the price in terms of pollution, poaching of wildlife and damage to coral reefs.

In an effort to promote responsible tourism, the government launched Palau Pledge, an agreement stamped on the passports of incoming visitors committing to protect the environment they are about to enter.

3. Venice, Italy

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Locals in this Italian gem have long complained about the droves of tourists that have "invaded" their city. Officials have also been experimenting with ideas to control the crowds and preserve local communities.

During the April bank holidays for the Feast of St Mark and Liberation Day, officials implemented routes for tourists headed to Rialto Bridge and St Mark's Square, while erecting turnstiles to segregate locals from high-traffic areas. Locals subsequently tore down the turnstiles, arguing that Venice is not a theme park.

4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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In December the mayor of Amsterdam announced plans to reform the city's famed red light district and crack down on drunk tourists verbally abusing workers.

5. Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

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Maya Bay gained global attention after the movie The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed there. Nowadays, the area is hardly the deserted island depicted in the movie.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand was forced to shut down access to the beach for four months this year to help rehabilitate the landscape. Visits into the bay during this time were strictly controlled and boats can only go as close as 400 metres from the beach.

6. Machu Picchu, Peru

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The Tourism Commission of Peru has been trialling several regulations since the start of this year to protect and preserve the sacred Inca site, including entry and exit times, established walking trails, what you can and cannot bring and tour group sizes.

7. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Savo Prelevic / AFP / Getty Images

Dubrovnik is trying to cope with the tourists who arrive looking for a Balkans experience and to do a spot of Game of Thrones sightseeing. Croatia topped the list of tourist-to-local ratio at 1380%, according to the Intrepid Adventure Index.

Many travellers reach Dubrovnik on cruise ships. The Dalmatian Coast, which lines the west side of Croatia, received 644 journeys by cruise between January and October, and more than 50% of these were destined for Dubrovnik.

8. Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

Patrick Baz / AFP / Getty Images

A lot of the damage on coral reefs has been attributed to the warming of the world's oceans. But one study concluded that chemicals common in sunscreens are poisoning corals, and in Hawaii's snorkelling hotspot Hanauma Bay, scientists found that nearly 2,600 average daily visitors left about 412 pounds of sunscreen in the ocean.

Because of this, Hawaii has banned the sale of sunscreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate.

9. Iceland

Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty Images

There were 5.5 visitors for every local in Iceland in the past year. While that number has slightly decreased from previous years when the country experienced a meteoric tourism boom, the industry is the second biggest contributor to the economy.

That's not to say there aren't concerns over areas popular among tourists such as Reykjavík and the Golden Circle. María Reynisdóttir from Iceland's Ministry of Industries and Innovation told CN Traveler that the focus now is not to reduce visitor numbers but to promote other Icelandic regions.

10. Uluru, Australia

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The traditional owners of Uluru have long struggled to get the message through to visitors not to climb the rock – for cultural reasons primarily, but also because the climb itself is very dangerous. In late 2017, the board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park voted on and unanimously agreed to close down the climb once and for all starting October 2019.

Ever since this announcement, the Uluru climb trail has seen an increase from 50-140 to 300-500 people daily.

11. Boracay Island, Philippines

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The party island in the Philippines was temporarily shut down from April to October this year to rehabilitate the environment and clean up the beach front. Prior to this, Boracay was not equipped with waste management facilities that can handle the visitor traffic. President Rodrigo Duterte also described the waters surrounding Boracay as a "cesspool".

12. Cinque Terre, Italy

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The Italian Riviera town wouldn't be the destination it's known for today if not for its majestic cliffside views dotted with colourful and quaint buildings. And one spot to catch these views is from the Manarola cemetery. It was once an off-the-beaten-track lookout but so many tourists have gotten a whiff of this travel tip that the local government has asked volunteers to monitor the cemetery for misbehaving and disrespectful visitors.

13. Santorini, Greece

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By the end of 2018, Greece is expecting 32 million visitor arrivals for the year, more than double its numbers in 2010. Many of them were headed for the islands including the hugely popular Santorini.

The honeymoon and party island counted 5.5 million overnight stays last year and locals have raised concerns over water and energy supplies. Authorities have also capped the number of boats arriving on the island.

14. Kyoto, Japan

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While Tokyo remains the first port of call for a lot of travellers to Japan, a two-hour Shinkansen train ride can get visitors to Kyoto for its Instagram-worthy spots such as the Arashiyama bamboo forest, the Shinto shrine gates and Kiyomizu Zaka street.

Residents, though, aren't happy with the sudden boom in crowds clogging up their narrow streets. Bus services haven't been able to manage and locals are struggling to get bookings at restaurants.

15. Budapest, Hungary

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This 19th century city in Eastern Europe has become the party town it never asked to be, and locals are feeling the burden. Horror stories of blaring music penetrating through homes in the inner city, drunk tourists wandering about on the streets and residents waking up to vomit on their front door have become common.

Some have been compelled to move out to quieter areas while others are campaigning for more nightlife control, including earlier closing times for bars.

16. Great Pyramid, Egypt

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Access to the pyramids is tightly controlled in order to try to preserve the ancient structures, but more daring travellers have sought the thrill of breaking the law and climbing to the top, the most notable being the couple who filmed themselves naked and pretending to have sex atop the Great Pyramid.

Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities has launched an investigation over the incident.

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