Tourists not welcome: People living in Europe's hot spots are saying, 'Stay away'

Tourists not welcome: People living in Europe's hot spots are saying, 'Stay away'
Pictures shows a banner on La Barceloneta beach, reading in Catalan "Never again a summer like this" during a protest against "drunken tourism" called by the residents of La Barceloneta neighbourhood in Barcelona, on August 12, 2017.
PHOTO: AFP

August - or rather, Europe's peak summer vacation season - is when many head out of town in search of rest and relaxation.

But locals living in tourist hot spots can end up finding the opposite, with throngs of visitors bringing overcrowding and antisocial behaviour.

CNBC takes a look at some of the places in Europe where locals think tourists have become a problem.

VENICE, ITALY

Photo: Pixabay

In July roughly 2,000 Venetians protested against tourism ruining their city, the knock-on effects of which include rising rent and pollution from cruise ships.

Locals in the iconic waterborne city are leaving at a rate of 1,000 people per year, according to Carlo Beltrame, temporary spokesperson for the Gruppo 25 Aprile, the organisation behind the protest.

He deemed the depopulation a "social tragedy," which also risks turning the city into "Disneyland."

Beltrame said that locals are most concerned with property prices and rising rent, while the government was focused on tackling antisocial behaviour from tourists.

Recent measures put in place to tackle tourist overcrowding include a ban on new tourist accommodation in the city centre and people counters at popular sites.

Tourist numbers in Italy as a whole have been steadily rising in recent years according to the WTTC, up 3.2 per cent year on year in 2016 to 52.4 million.

"We wouldn't damage tourism, we would only control it," Beltrame said.

DUBROVNIK, CROATIA

Photo: Pixabay

Dubrovnik, on Croatia's Dalmatian Coast, has fallen victim to what Rochelle Turner, research director at WTTC, deemed "historic heritage cities constrained by the way they were built."

The city's role as a filming location for "Game of Thrones" has also highlighted it on the tourist map.

Measures have been taken to combat visitor overcrowding, with cameras installed in January of this year to help limit tourist numbers to 8,000 in the old town, in accordance with UNESCO advice.

Ana Rajcevic, a spokesperson for the city, told CNBC that the authorities were "determined not to have more than 4,000 cruise ship guests in the City at the same time."

ISLE OF SKYE, SCOTLAND

Photo: Pixabay

Meanwhile, the economic fallout of Brexit has affected tourist numbers to the UK A weaker pound has triggered more inbound travel from international visitors, while domestic tourists are also remaining in the country.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the May to March period in 2017 saw 10 per cent more visits to the UK in comparison to a year previously, with holiday visits specifically rising by 21 per cent.

One region which made headlines this summer due to tourist numbers is the Isle of Skye in Scotland, with newspapers reporting that police had advised visitors against visiting the island unless they had booked a room.

Lochaber and Skye Police later sent out a tweet saying that they did not want to turn people away, but instead "just want(ed) people to be prepared."

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN

Photo: Pixabay

San Sebastian, a picturesque tourist destination in northern Spain's Basque Country, has been plagued by anti-tourism protests this summer.

Organized by leftist youth group Ernai, one incident saw a tourist train stopped by demonstrators.

Tourism is worth 13 per cent to San Sebastian's economy, and the city was deemed 2016's European Capital of Culture.

Eneko Goia, the city's mayor, told CNBC that the protests were "clearly motivated by political reasons," and not representative of the views of most locals.

But, tourism in the city is being managed with a firmer hand.

San Sebastian will announce "much more restrictive" rules on tourist apartments in the coming weeks, which are blamed for pushing up rent prices, and have closed almost 100 illegal rentals in the past two years, Goia said.

BALEARIC ISLANDS, SPAIN

Photo: Pixabay

Another region of Spain which has seen pushback against the management of tourism is the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea.

Balearic Vice President and Minister for Tourism Gabriel Barcelo told CNBC via e-mail that a cap on the number of tourist beds on the islands was introduced on August 1 at approximately 623,600.

This is figure is set to reduce in coming years.

One of the reasons behind the cap was "the rise of privately owned rentals through platforms such as Airbnb," Barcelo said, "which is making suitably priced accommodation inaccessible to locals and seasonal workers."

The Balearic Islands also implemented a new law to prohibit such platforms from renting without a licence on August 1.

According to figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), visitor numbers are up for Spain by 9.3 per cent year on year in the first half of 2017.

In 2016, 75.6 million international visitors arrived in the country, in comparison to 52.7 million in 2010.

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