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10th Nov 2012 9:48am | By Editor
Nothing wrecks a holiday destination of your dreams faster than finding it overrun with other tourists.
If they’re not dripping ice cream over priceless monuments, their floppy sun hats are poking into the corners of your scenic snapshots or the sea of matching tour T-shirts is just ruining the aesthetic.
Inconvenience aside, there is a serious case to be made for certain popular hotspots taking steps to cut down on the amount of visitors they bring in each year.
Excessive tourist traffic can do permanent damage to everything from fragile eco-systems to long-standing cultural traditions.
In Dubrovnik, it’s the sheer numbers brought in by mega cruise ships that cause problems.
In peak season, the city’s popularity as a cruise port means five ships might dock in the morning, each bringing 10,000 tourists who all want to walk a circuit of the Old City walls, ride the cable car, see the Franciscan monastery and buy bags of candied lemon peel from the market stalls – all within a few hours.
Dubrovnik just isn’t big enough to comfortably host them all at once, and the result is overcrowding to the extent that officials have been forced to temporarily close down the Old Town entrances several times in recent years.
Local businesses say the day trippers don’t spend much in town either, eating on board the ship rather than in restaurants and often not bothering to buy any Croatian kuna at all.
From a tourist’s perspective, the experience is just unpleasant – prices rise, queues lengthen and the atmosphere of this beautiful city is ruined.
None of this should put you off going there altogether; you just need a game plan for getting the most out of Dubrovnik when you do go. First and most important rule, avoid July and August.
When you do go, check the Dubrovnik Port Authority’s website (portdubrovnik.hr), which has a colour-coded chart showing how many passengers will be in the city on any given day.
And whatever you do, don’t even think about booking a cruise holiday that stops here.
Everyone knows that Venice is fragile, with its buildings sinking and canals eroding.
But the big bad cruise ships (again) are making the problem worse.
Heritage groups say that as the cruise ships – at up to 1000ft-long and carrying 4000 passengers – move through the shallow Venetian waters, they damage the delicate canal and mudbanks.
This is one of Europe’s most awe-inspiring cities, so get there sooner rather than later in case it disappears ...