5 Places That Have Closed to Tourists in 2019

Discoveries

As travelers, we must remember we have a huge responsibility to the beautiful places we are lucky enough to visit. Traveling responsibly and respecting the people and landmarks of the destinations is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, popular tourist destinations around the world are being forced to limit visitors, or even close completely, due to mass tourism, littering, deterioration and effects from climate change.

If you’re visiting a popular travel destination this year, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at any new restrictions or rules for 2019. Dubrovnik, Venice and Machu Picchu are all enacting new policies to limit the number of travelers allowed in this year to protect the areas from damage. Hopefully, raising awareness and promoting respectful travel habits can help save other locations from closing in the future. Here are five spots that have closed this year to tourists.

Mt. Everest Base Camp

Tibet, China

Credit: R.M. Nunes/iStock

The world-famous Mount Everest base camp is officially closed to tourists. Local government decided in late 2018 to close the area for the foreseeable future, according to ABC News, in an effort to clean up massive amounts of trash left at the site by visitors. The Tibet Autonomous Region Sports Bureau reported that, last year, they collected 8.4 metric tons of waste from the camp. Moving forward, tourists can now only go as far as the Rongbuk Monastery, which is just a mile away from the famous base camp at the mountain.  

The closure is mostly targeting tourists, while mountaineers and researchers will still be allowed within the reserve. Serious hikers intent on attempting the summit hike may still access the mountain by applying for a permit. But only 300 passes will be issued yearly, and hiking is only allowed during the spring.

Maya Bay

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Credit: Vito_Elefante/iStock

Located in the Phi Phi Islands, Maya Bay was temporarily closed to tourists in June of 2018 and set to reopen in October 2018. But the site will now remain closed indefinitely, according to CNN. The delicate marine ecosystem on the island, Phi Phi Leh, has been decimated by foot traffic from tourists due to its popularity. The strikingly beautiful beach was made famous by the 2000 film The Beach and has suffered for its popularity over the years. Although Maya Bay and Phi Phi Leh island as a whole are closed, its much larger sister island, Phi Phi Don, remains open to tourists seeking Thai paradise.

This story does have a silver lining — the Thai government, owners of major resorts and marine biologists are working together to save the local ecosystem. Travelers can visit the new Marine Discovery Centre at Phi Phi Island Village to learn more about the local marine ecosystem and what is being done to protect the wildlife.

Boracay Island

Malay, Philippines

Credit: Chaodao Zhang/iStock

Add the beautiful island of Boracay to your list of destinations to avoid in 2019. The area is undergoing a massive rehabilitation project after years of visitors causing unnecessary damage to the island, according to the Daily Express. After being completely closed to tourists for six months, some parts of the island reopened to tourism in October 2018, but the number of visitors is significantly limited throughout 2019. There is also a long list of new restrictions for travelers on the island regarding partying, casinos and even sandcastle building, in an effort to keep traffic manageable in the future.

Even the locals hope to get the island completely reopened quickly, as tourism is a huge part of their economy — but it’s probably best to wait to visit until after 2019 when all the repairs are completed.

Uluru Rock Climbing

Northern Territory, Australia

Credit: Maurizio De Mattei/Shutterstock

Climbing the famed Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, in Australia is officially banned in 2019. This move was first announced in 2017 by the national park board, who asserted that the area is not an amusement park and that it has a profound cultural significance that needs to be preserved, according to ABC News. Although it was announced in 2017, the board gave hikers until 2019 to climb the rock one last time in an attempt to keep peace with tourists. The ban officially begins on October 26, 2019.

In an unexpected twist to this story’s ending, tourists are sending back “sorry rocks” to the park after learning of its climbing ban, according to Noted, New Zealand. The owners felt guilty for taking a piece of the rock and have returned the souvenirs back to the land.

Faroe Islands — Temporary Closure

Credit: Wild-Places/iStock

In an effort to avoid the same fate as other islands due to mass tourism, the Faroe Islands, a small island archipelago southeast of Iceland, is closing to tourists for one weekend in April 2019 for a mass cleanup of the area.  This group of 18 rocky, volcanic islands has quickly climbed in popularity over the past several years, and has noticed excess trash and damage since welcoming more visitors to its beautiful landscape. The local government decided to get ahead of the issue and close all major tourist attractions during the weekend of April 26-27 for a much-needed break, according to CNN.

If you must visit the Faroese countryside during the cleanup weekend, flights and hotels will still be open, and you're encouraged to sign up to help with one of the many conservation efforts around the islands.

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