HOLIDAYMAKERS in the south of France will soon have to apply for a permit to visit nearby beaches, as local authorities struggle to cope with visitor numbers.
The Calanques National Park is an area of cliff-lined inlets and coves not far from Marseille that is very popular with tourists.
However, on June 26, July 3 and then every day from July 10 until August 21 this year, visitors will need to show proof of a reservation to visit one of the park's most famous locations, the Sugiton cove.
During the summer months, the number of people visiting the cove rockets, as people flock from all around to see its crystal clear waters.
Local chiefs are hoping to limit the impact that the thousands of tourists are having on the park's environment and are trialling the permit system at the cove this year.
Only 400 passes will be available per day, while one person is only allowed to book eight times over the summer season.
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A private security company has been hired to check the reservations at the site.
Permits are available for visitors up to three days in advance, via an online booking system, but they close at 6pm the night before a visit.
At the end of the summer, park officials will review the experiment before deciding whether or not to expand it to other areas of the park next year.
The booking system is not the first measure put in place to try and limit visitor numbers to the area.
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In previous years, the park's authorities installed signs that warned of cold water, difficult access and crowding, encouraging visitors to return in autumn or winter.
The park's official website states that: "The cove of Sugiton and Fallen Stones is the victim of a phenomenon of very marked soil erosion due to over-frequentation.
"This phenomenon threatens the landscapes we love so much and biodiversity.
"To protect the creek, the Calanques National Park limits the number of visitors on June 26, July 3, then every day from July 10 to August 21, 2022."
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Zacharie Bruyas, from the Parc national des Calanques, said: “We’ve marked areas to allow the regeneration of nature where the public is not allowed to enter.
“We have put a reservation system in place, to ensure that the development measures are respected.”
Visitors are not the only nature concern the park's authorities have had to put up with in recent years, with potentially dangerous thirsty wild boars descending on the coves.
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