Rome banishes tourist buses from the city centre

A new ruling passed by Rome’s city council has banned tourist-buses from the historic centre. As of 1 January 2019, the heart of the capital rich with sites like the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia will be off-limits to the coaches that whisk hundreds of sightseers from attraction to attraction daily.

Travel News - Sightseeing Bus Passing The Colosseum in Rome

Tourist buses are now banned from the centre of Rome. Image by georgeclerk/Getty Images

Exceptions can be made for school buses and coaches carrying passengers with a disability; bus transfers for hotel guests are also exempt, but must first apply for a special permit.

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi has been a vocal supporter of the move, stating that it’s “an important decision not only for the protection of our archaeological and historic heritage, but also to combat air and noise pollution.” City locals also seem largely in favour of the ruling, which will thin out headache-inducing crowds and traffic.

Travel News - Italy, Rome, Tourists doing sightseeing tour in tour bus, passing Colosseum

Exceptions will be made for travellers with a disability and schoolchildren. Image by Westend61/Getty Images

Tour operators, meanwhile, fear it’ll leave a dent on the Eternal City’s booming tourism, impacting restaurants and shops clustered around the iconic attractions along with the paychecks of tour guides and drivers. The European Tourism Association agrees, arguing that the ruling is sure to “inflict a body blow” to Rome’s travel business. Earlier in the month, tour operators gathered en mass to protest the ban, bringing the city centre to a standstill, with coaches triple-parked around Rome’s Christmas tree in Piazza Venezia. "From January 1st, many of us will be unemployed," said president of tourism association Assoviaggi Confesercenti Cinzia Renzi. "We've already seen 10% of group tours booked for 2019 cancelled."

In an attempt to lessen the impact on tourists, the city council promises to arrange additional parking outside of the centre so passengers can access it by foot. 2018 has seen Rome implement a series of new rules, with drinking in the streets, pub crawls, and taking a dip in historic fountains now officially forbidden.