Wave of Anti-Tourism Protests Take Place in Some of Europe’s Most Popular Destinations
With the continent sweltering under a heatwave nicknamed Lucifer, tempers have been boiling over, too, as a wave of anti-tourism protests take place in some of Europe’s most popular destinations. Yet, as “tourism-phobia” becomes a feature of the summer, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has defended the sector, calling on local authorities to do more to manage growth in a sustainable manner, The Guardian.
The focal point for much of this has been Spain, which had a record 75.6 million tourists last year, including 17.8 million from the UK. In Barcelona, where tensions have been rising for years over the unchecked surge in visitors and impact of sites such as Airbnb on the local housing market, Arran, the youth wing of the radical CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy), have been filmed slashing the tyres of rental bicycles and a tour bus.
There have also been protests in Mallorca and San Sebastián, where an anti-tourism march is planned for 17 August, to coincide with Semana Grande – a major festival of Basque culture.
Other demonstrations have taken place across southern Europe. Last month in Venice – which sees more than 20 million visitors a year and has just 55,000 residents – 2,000 locals marched through the city, voicing anger at rising rents and the impact of huge cruise ships and the pollution they cause to the city’s delicate environment.
UNWTO recommends a number of proven methods for managing crowds in destinations, such as encouraging tourists to visit beyond the central sights, diversifying tourist activities, reducing seasonality and, importantly, addressing the needs of the local community. The focus should not be, it says, on simply stopping tourists arriving.
Earlier this year, Barcelona started cracking down on unlicensed Airbnb rentals, doubling the numbers of inspectors checking properties. Of around 16,000 holiday rentals in the city, 7,000 are believed to be unlicensed.
In Venice, the mayor’s office has also been attempting to tackle the problem. In June it said it would introduce a ban on new tourist accommodation in the city centre, and “people counters” have been installed at popular sites to monitor overcrowding.
Italy has also been cracking down on anti-social behaviour in other tourist hotspots. In Rome, this means a ban on people eating or paddling in the city’s fountains and drinking on the street at night. Similar measures have been put into place in Milan – which introduced a summer ban on everything from food trucks to selfie sticks in the Darsena neighbourhood.
In Dubrovnik, another city where cruise ships unload thousands of visitors at a time, the mayor has introduced cameras to monitor the number of visitors in its Unesco-listed old town, so that the flow of people entering can be slowed – or even stopped – once a certain number is reached. Meanwhile, the mayor ofpopular Croatian party island Hvar has pledged to put an end to debauchery by mostly British tourists by slapping them with huge fines.
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