• La Pelosa Beach in Sardinia is charging an entry fee to protect its dunes and vegetations from tourists.
  • Other tourist destinations in Italy are charging entry fees to limit tourists and fund historic preservation.
  • Venice will soon charge an entry fee to use the beach for the day.

The local tourist guide says it’s the best beach in Sardinia. With pure white sand and crystalline water, La Pelosa has been described as being as beautiful as the Caribbean. But its beauty has become a curse as tourists jostle for every last square metre.

The mayor of La Pelosa's nearby town Stintino has come up with a solution: charge people to visit the beach. Coupled with an earlier ban on traders, the plan is to limit the number of people to a maximum of 1,500 a day.

The dunes behind the beach, on the north-west corner of the island, have suffered from holiday-makers trampling vegetation in their search for the perfect sunbathing spot. Reduced coverage of this vegetation has led to part of the dunes blowing away.

La Pelosa, Sardinia
La Pelosa in Sardinia is one of the best beaches in Sardinia – and officials are trying to protect it.
Image: Blualghero Sardinia.

A study by Rome’s Central Institute for Marine Research found damage caused by visitors had weakened La Pelosa's natural defences and allowed winter storms to carry away whole areas of sand.

Saving tourist hotspots

As a result, the beach is now smaller than it was when large-scale tourism arrived in the area in the 1970s. The study recommends creating natural windbreaks to prevent sand erosion and limiting numbers of visitors.

Mayor Antonio Diana says the money raised will be use to restore the beach. A smoking ban has also been implemented, and tourists will be banned from bringing beach bags in case they unwittingly remove sand.

Charging to protect sensitive tourist hotspots is nothing new. Venice, currently battling its worst-ever winter flooding, is planning a $5.50 “landing charge” for day-trippers starting next year. Tourists staying overnight already pay a tourist tax, which varies according to the star rating of their hotel.

Civita di Bagnoregio
Civita di Bagnoregio is charging tourists an entry fee to fund historic preservation.
Image: Port of Civitavecchia

Visitors to the tiny hilltop town of Civita di Bagnoregio in Italy’s Lazio region are charged $5.50 a day. Surrounded by ravines and vulnerable to earthquakes, the town uses the money raised by the entry charge to conserve its historic buildings.

A study by beach equipment supplier We Are Promotional found Renaissance Island, Aruba, is the world’s most expensive beach, when factoring in the cost of access charges and beach activities. Hiquan Bathing Beach in China is the world's cheapest beach.