Ok, I’m being idiotically provocative with the title—the Cinque Terre isn’t really closing (yet)—but then again, my curiosity has been piqued by a post subtly titled The Cinque Terre is Closed, in which the degradation of Cinque Terre resources due to excessive usage prompts Jessica to propose that tourists apply for a limited number of permits to enter the vaunted crinkle on Italy’s coastline.
I don’t envy Jessica. She’s going to get a ton of those “You $*^*& liberal elite scum are always out to limit access to cool stuff to have it all for yourselves!”
Of course, this philosophy about unlimited access does not apply to health care in the US, evidently.
Digression aside, I always wonder why the free market never seems to work in these instances. For example, from the blog post I read that a resident of Vernazza complains:
Each winter, the walls have to be completely reconstructed, the paths renewed, and since they don’t traditionally use mortar (and are now prohibited from doing so by park policies), this is a painstaking task. An 8 ft by 8 ft piece of wall takes around two to three days to rebuild. And there are only a few guys who actually still know how to do it well.
Ok, so why doesn’t the price of hiking the trails increase until one of two things happens:
1. Some people don’t want or can’t pay that amount, and don’t go, therefore relieving pressure on the resource.
2. The Park that rakes in the money gets enough to hire apprentices who can earn barrels of money while learning to do a bang up job repairing trails day and night.
Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen? Well, I mean it used to happen when we learned back in the dark ages that the economy was built on the principles of supply and demand. Then the Reagan gang sorta crossed out demand and that was that.
Ok, blasphemy time: There’s too much demand for the 5 Terre. Raise prices till it hurts. What’s wrong with that? Isn’t it the free market at work? I mean people pay $1500 for a teensy seat on an airplane for the flight over, can’t they shell out enough to pay for the damage they do to a resource?
The reason I wonder is that when I’m in the US I live in a rural community. I have cable modem access to the internet. We have gone through 4 different cable internet services. Each have collapsed without raising prices. What’s up with that? I mean you’re headed down the chute fast, why not get some revenue and see if you can make it work? But not one of them did that. Odd.
The other half of the argument applies to what folks have started to call “the Rick Stevesification of the Cinque Terre.” You know, travel writers send folks off to the Cinque Terre en mass to enjoy the wonders of the Italian coast, which overburdens it until it dies a sad and crumbly death.
The problem is: I can send you to lots of really great places. Yeah, wine places like the Langhe, which only gets on the destination list of people who spend a fortune drinking wines that none of the rest of us can afford. The vineyard views aren’t so shabby, either, as you might be able to tell from the itty bitty picture over there (click it to see it in its full and glorious size). The wines of the Langhe are far better than the ones in the Cinque Terre.
But if I put up a spread of 30 pages on the Langhe with pictures and winery contacts and the best places to bed down for the night, will you go? Of course not. You won’t be able to find those pages in Google because you won’t even think of searching for them.
You want water and castles and great views? Ever heard of Bagnone? Well, that’s a picture over there on the right. It’s in Tuscany, the northern part called the Lunigiana. I like the Lunigiana so much I bought a house there. But you won’t go there either, because unless a critical mass of travelers starts hearing the word “Bagnone” in their sleep, they ain’t going to pay it no mind.
Unlike the government, I have to obey the dictates of supply and demand. I have to supply what you want in order to get enough money to supply you with what you want and supply myself with the means of getting it to you with a little left over for some wine and bread. You want the Cinque Terre. Here’s a Map of the Cinque Terre Hiking Trails
I gotta eat, too, ya know.
(End Notes: The astute reader who has some engineering background will recognize the problem here as positive feedback, which is a very bad thing. Why? See, you demand information on the Cinque Terre, I rush to meet the demand, which brings on more demand as more people read what I produce, which causes me to say, “Hey, that’s a hot topic, I must write more!” This is akin to a person yelling into a microphone, whereby his voice is amplified many times and is returned to the microphone and amplified many times more and pretty soon that awful screeching noise resulting from this positive feedback assaults your eardrums. A good engineer recognizes that negative feedback produces stable systems, and raising the price until there are just enough tourists to keep money flowing while doing little damage to the system is the only natural way to keep the Cinque Terre a desirable destination for years to come. We now return you to your regular programming.)