Published: Wed, August 21, 2019

Tourists face jail after trying to take 40kg of Sardinia's sand home

Tourists face jail after trying to take 40kg of Sardinia's sand home

In 1994, access to the renowned pink beach on Budelli island to the north-east of Sardinia was banned amid concerns about its future.

They face between one and six years in prison, according to media reports.

After a public outcry of tourists stealing the sand, authorities created a law in 2017 which said that anyone caught trading in shells or sand could be fined up to £2,750 or face a six year jail term.

The Italian island is famed for its pristine sandy beaches - and locals have long complained about their sand being smuggled off the island.

According to local media, two French tourists were charged last week with stealing almost 90 pounds of sand from Chia beach, on the southern coast of Sardinia.

Police found 14 plastic bottles filled with white beach sand-and weighing more than 90 pounds-in the trunk of their vehicle.

Sand theft has been a longstanding problem: According to The Local, more than ten tons of beachfront dirt has been confiscated in the last decade from suitcases on outgoing flights from Olbia Airport. Tourists bottle the sand up to then auction on online sites, BBC reports. Last year, authorities slapped a tourist visiting from the United Kingdom with a fine of more than 1,000 euros for taking sand. Officials do not believe the couple's claim they were unaware of the law, pointing out various signs posted in multiple languages that advise tourists the sand must stay on the beach.

The measure is just one way popular destinations are trying to counter the damage caused by crowds of tourists as the number of travelers around the globe increases and cities and attractions increasingly find themselves overwhelmed.

Pierluigi Cocco, an environmental scientist and Sardinian resident, told the BBC the theft of sand is one of the two main threats to the island.

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