European Cities Mull Tourism Limits In Face of Overcrowding

Aug 10, 2017

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With summer travel season in full swing, many cities across Europe are reporting an increase in numbers of tourists: Croatia saw a 31% jump in visitors in June from a year earlier, while the number of visitors to Spain increased 12% in the first half of 2017 to 36.4 million. But not everyone is happy with the boost in tourism. Overcrowding at some of Europe’s top attractions is fueling an angry backlash from locals, leading to protests and even physical intimidation.

Last month, Venice residents marched behind a “My future is Venice” banner and through a throng of visitors to protest against a tourist influx that they believe is growing out of hand.

“The city has completely lost its identity… Everyone should be able to come here but this invasion creates real problems,” said Venetian actor Alessandro Bressanello. The 68-year-old is part of the 25 April civil group that is pushing for stricter limits on tourist accommodation and flow management.

In Barcelona, angry locals have turned to graffiti to vent their frustration, including one of a shadowed figure with a crosshair at its head that reads, “Why call it tourist season if we can’t shoot them?”

Things also got physical on the island of Mallorca, where masked activists set off flares outside a tourist-packed restaurant and threw confetti at frightened diners. This backlash has sparked concerns among authorities, prompting them to act.

In the town of Dubrovnik on Croatia’s Adriatic coast, authorities are considering limiting the number of cruise ships — which brings in 5,000 cruise passengers each day — to cope with overcrowding at the UNESCO World Heritage site. Barcelona is also tackling its growing number of cruise vacationers by imposing a minimal tax for visitors staying less than 12 hours. Last year, 750 cruise ships docked near Barcelona.

Over in Italy, Venice has recently launched the #EnjoyRespectVenezia campaign to create a deterrent to tourists who do not “respect the city, urban decorum and public safety.” Rome also had its fair share of dealing with tourists, banning them from frolicking in the famous Trevi Fountain.

H/T Reuters

Featured image of Dubrovnik courtesy of Jeremy Woodhouse via Getty Images.

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