To reduce the negative impact of tourism on Rome’s historic infrastructure, the city is banning tour buses in the popular city center. The measure took effect on January 1 and prohibits tour buses from conveying guests past the Colosseum, the Piazza Venezia, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, and other iconic sites.
Virginia Raggi, Rome’s mayor, said the move is “an important decision not only for the protection of our archeological and historic heritage but also to combat air and noise pollution.” The new rule mirrors similar steps taken recently by Venice, which enacted an entrance fee for all day-trippers to the city.
Restaurants, shops, and ticket sales to the attractions themselves may suffer from the bus ban, and unsurprisingly, tour operators are concerned that it will harm Rome’s tourism industry. To protest the ban, tour operators even gathered in the city center last month, parking coach busses around Rome’s Christmas tree in the Piazza Venezia. After all, bus tours represent the livelihood of thousands in the tourism industry. Cinzia Renzi, president of Rome’s tourism association, Assoviaggi Confesercenti, said, “From January 1st, many of us will be unemployed. We’ve already seen 10 percent of group tours booked for 2019 canceled.”
Exceptions to the ban will be made for buses carrying students, passengers with disabilities, and bus transfers for hotel guests.
Rome isn’t, however, trying to completely raze its own tourism industry. To compensate for the lack of available tour buses, the city plans to increase parking outside the city center to make it easier for visitors to park there and enter Rome on foot.