In an effort to prevent congestion and encourage sustainable tourism, more and more regions throughout Spain are enacting limits on the number of visitors for some of its most well-known natural sites.
According to a survey by the Eco-union organisation, tourism in national parks has increased by 77 percent over the past 20 years, with around 16 million tourists per year.
During the Covid-19 epidemic, when both domestic and foreign tourists preferred to vacation to natural locations, away from people in the main cities, visitor numbers peaked.
Increased visitor traffic endangers natural environments by causing erosion, trampled plant species, and alarmed local fauna.
According to Pau Monasterio, a representative for Ecologists in Action, “Natural habitats need to be protected against enormous tourism that can destroy them, with legislation that allow their enjoyment but also guarantee conservation.”
There are restrictions on the number of visitors to places like As Catedrais Beach in Galicia, which is well-known for its spectacular rock formations, Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain, and Doana National Park, one of the most significant wetlands in Europe.
Which regions in Spain have imposed limits on the number of visitors?
For a number of years, Doana National Park has imposed restrictions on visitation. For instance, on the routes from Huelva to El Acebuche and El Roco, as well as on the riverside route to Sanlcar de Barrameda, only 886 persons are permitted per day.
The Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park in Aragon has visitor limits in place for a long time and plans to keep them in place.
The Covadonga Lakes, one of the most popular destinations in the Picos de Europa National Park, are subject to limits on the number of visitors in Asturias. Only buses or authorized taxis from the town of Cangas de Ons can access the lakes during the busiest seasons of the year.
the Balearic Islands
Limitations in the Balearic Islands have been extended to the Martimo-Terrestre de Cabrera National Park, which is home to 50% of Spain’s posidonia (seagrass) meadows. To enter the area by watercraft, special authorization is required.
The Balearic Islands’ government also employed environmental informants this summer to cruise the beaches and disseminate guidance and knowledge on the islands’ protected natural areas.
Country of Basque
The islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe has reopened to the public with a daily cap of 1,500 people after being deluged by Game of Thrones fans because it was the site for Dragonstone.
One of the most visited national parks in Spain is Tenerife’s Mount Teide National Park, which receives almost 15 million people annually. Only 200 persons per day are permitted on the final section of the path leading to Teide’s peak due to restrictions.
Timanfaya National Park on Lanzarote has also implemented restrictions by charging admission, and the number of cars that are permitted access to the laurel forests on La Gomera has been limited.
No-entry zones have been established on Maspalomas beach in Gran Canaria to safeguard the dunes’ natural reserve, while on Fuerteventura, a set number of people are permitted to visit the tiny islet of Lobos each day.
There have been suggested restrictions on how many people can visit the Chorreras del Cabriel waterfalls in Cuenca. Only 400 people per day should be permitted to enter the Biosphere Reserve, where eleven swimmers had to be rescued this summer due to mishaps, according to experts.
Access to a number of natural attractions in Extremadura, including as the Fuentes de León Cave in Badajoz and the Castaar Cave in Cáceres, has been restricted.
By requiring tourists to make a free online reservation in advance, the territory of Galicia has restricted access to the well-known Galician beach of As Catedrais.
Only a few designated natural places, such as Los Villares in the San Juan Reservoir and the beaches of Alberche and Las Presillas in Rascafra, are open to swimming in the capital district. The popular green pools of La Charca Verde de la Pedriza, one of the most popular sections of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, are likewise subject to restrictions on the number of visitors.
The amount of private vehicles that are allowed to pass through the regional natural parks of Calblanque, Monte de las Cenizas, and Pea del guila are restricted in Murcia.
There are limitations on the number of vehicles that are permitted at the Leurza and Orgi forest reservoirs in Navarra as well as the access to the river Urederra’s source in the Urbasa Natural Park, which has a daily limit of 500.
The number of vehicles that can enter the Serra d’Irta Natural Park during the summer has been controlled by Valencia. This road segment runs next to the d’Irta Marine Reserve. There is a limit on the number of visitors allowed at Peón de Ifach in Calpe and the cliffs of Cabo de San Antonio in Alicante, which are both protected areas of the Montgó Natural Park.