By Emma Mitchell •
Updated: 20 Nov 2023 • 12:27
Drunk and disorderly. Credit: Photo by thom masat on Unsplash
As reported in EWN, Malaga introduced a fine of €750 this year for inappropriate, or sexual attire, worn on the streets in an effort to crack down on rowdy stag and hen parties. Across Europe, popular tourist destinations are introducing measures to combat over-tourism and anti-social behaviour by tourists.
Over the last 10-15 years Europe has seen massive growth in tourism leading, in recent years, to growing concerns at top tourist destinations about over-tourism. Travelling to Europe has never been easier or cheaper; low-cost airlines like Ryanair and online marketplaces for accommodation such as Airbnb make overseas holidays more accessible to lower-income households.
A typical family holiday in the 1970s would likely involve a staycation, whereas in the 2020s a staycation often seems like the choice of last resort, with cheap foreign holidays and short city breaks becoming the most popular vacation choices.
Adding to low-cost flights and private apartment and holiday home rentals is the influence of Social Media, particularly visual platforms like Instagram. A never-ending feed of glamorous shots and fun selfies results in aspirational followers flocking to the same destinations as their influencers in a bid to capture the same photo shots for their own Social Media feeds.
All these elements have pushed popular destinations to take measures to calm the number of visitors descending on them at one time and to dissuade anti-social behaviour by tourists.
The World Tourism Organisation has coined the term Tourism Carrying Capacity (TCC) which it defines as “the maximum number of people that may visit a tourist destination at the same time, without causing destruction of the physical, economic and social environment.” A growing number of city and regional governments in popular tourist destinations are signalling that they have exceeded their Tourism Carrying Capacity and local residents agree, demonstrating their unhappiness through ever-increasing anti-tourism movements, demonstrations and guerilla actions.
Doxey’s Irritation Index is an academic theory that neatly describes how the sentiment of a local population towards tourists can change as the numbers grow. The theory describes four stages:
Stage 1 Euphoria: Locals are curious and interested in tourists, the tourists are welcome in the destination and locals are excited about their presence.
Stage 2 Apathy: As numbers grow, apathy sets in and tourists are taken for granted, the relationship between locals and tourists becomes more formal and locals are indifferent towards the tourists.
Stage 3 Irritation: As tourist numbers reach the maximum saturation level and are expected to be higher, locals worry about price rises, crime and their cultural life being interfered with by the tourists’ presence. The tourists are seen as an irritation or annoyance.
Stage 4 Hostility: Locals become antagonistic towards tourists, blaming them for everything bad about the local society and environment, they become hostile towards tourists and seek to take action to stop them.
For places that feel under siege by tourists, there are a few measures that are open to authorities. Caps on visitor numbers during a time period are a popular measure to quell excessive numbers of people at specific attractions, such as Greece has implemented for the Acropolis.
Increasing taxes and introducing fees for particularly popular areas is another choice, such as Venice introducing a daily tourist fee of €5 in 2024 or Amsterdam increasing tourist tax by 12% in 2023.
Local authorities sometimes opt to put development caps in place, either banning or reducing the number of new hotels and resorts being built. This can also be extended to limiting the number of private holiday rental accommodation.
There’s also how destinations market themselves, pivoting away from encouraging anyone and everyone to come to either marketing for a niche section of tourism or having campaigns which dissuade particular types of tourist or tourist behaviour.
Spain was the second most popular country in Europe to visit in 2022 after France, attracting 71.66 million visitors. Barcelona, receiving 12.4 million visitors in 2022, has been among the first cities in Europe to ban the development of new hotels in the city centre and restrict short-term room rentals, including shutting down around 8,000 unlicensed tourist apartments.
One of the Socialist candidates in the last elections told Expansion newspaper that, “Our priority is not quantity but quality. We propose zero growth in accommodation and holiday rental units.” Popular foodie destination, San Sebastian also plans to ban the construction of new hotels and vacation rentals from as early as 2023 whilst Alma de Mallorca became the first in Spain to ban Airbnb in 2018 in an effort to contain tourism.
In addition to measures against over-tourism, Spanish tourist hot spots are putting in increasingly robust rules aimed at curtailing nuisance tourism. Seville is seeking to establish laws to end antisocial behaviour in public places and has announced that people who wear inappropriate sexual outfits or underwear in public will be fined.
Authorities announced clothing “that may violate the moral or sexual integrity of another person” will also be banned, as well as “performing or inciting the performance of acts that violate sexual freedom […] or committing acts of obscene exhibitionism.”
The Mayor of Seville, Jose Luis Sanz has stated that Seville has no interest in the type of tourism that is related to bachelor and bachelorette parties that are ‘disrespectful’. “What we don’t view favourably are groups of people dressed as whatever, with brass bands behind them, disturbing the many residents of Seville – especially in areas of the historic centre – who also have the right to enjoy their city,” he is on record as saying.
Earlier this year, Amsterdam made worldwide headlines with a marketing campaign called ‘Stay Away’ aimed at stag night and hen party participants, warning that antisocial behaviour such as getting drunk and rowdy in public would result in an on-the-spot €140 fine. In order to dissuade that type of tourism, they also banned cannabis smoking on the streets and introduced earlier closing times on the bars and brothels of Amsterdam’s red-light district. They have also increased tourist tax by 12.5 per cent and moved against the number of cruise ships docking there.
Over in Portugal, new laws were put in place to curb antisocial behaviour on beaches with holidaymakers receiving fines between €200 and €36,000 for the use of sound equipment that maximises noise. They also banned activities and sports such as surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing outside designated areas and, in addition, camping in undesignated places and fishing in bathing areas.
In Italy, a tourist climbed the renowned 16th-century Fountain of Neptune in Florence causing damage by breaking off a marble segment, resulting in an estimated €5,000 worth of damages and this has led to measures against anti-social behaviour in some Italian tourist destinations.
Venice has opted to curb numbers by introducing a €5 a day tourist fee from 2024 for visiting the city. The city attracts around 60,000 visitors a day during peak season, completely swamping the 55,000 residents. Thirty years ago Venice was resident to 120,000 locals but the population has since been priced out, pushed out or simply moved to get away from the crowds and some demographers predict that by 2030 there will be no full-time residents in Venice.
Portofino, one of the most visited places in Italy, has also implemented measures at some of the sites that are most popular with tourists for taking selfies, with fines of up to €275 for bad behaviour. In the town centre, walking around barefoot, in a bikini or partially undressed is prohibited.
A number of other Italian cities issue fines for badly behaved tourists walking around towns without clothes, or too few clothes, swimming in canals or sitting on pavements and bridges causing blockages.
Tourists swamping locals is something the 800 residents of Hallstatt in Austria know all too well. Following a popular South Korean reality show featuring the pretty town, it receives over 10,000 visitors a day during peak season. Frustrated locals have staged several anti-tourist protests as a result, including blocking tunnels that give road access to the town.
Dubrovnik is one of the most visited cities in Europe and has now been forced to bring in measures against nuisance tourism that include a €260 fine for dragging wheeled suitcases through the cobbled streets in the historic centre. The number of souvenir stands has been reduced by 80 per cent and the number of restaurant tables and chairs by 30 per cent.
The city, along with other popular tourist destinations in Croatia, has also introduced on-the-spot fines for drinking alcohol in public, sleeping, urinating or vomiting in public places, walking through towns shirtless or in swimwear, wearing clothing that promotes drug usage and climbing on monuments. In addition, there are fines of up to €4,000 for fighting, verbal abuse, drunken behaviour and belittling or insulting the police or other public officials.
Increasingly the popular tourist destinations of Europe are signalling that they don’t want their area to be either inundated with tourists or associated with the type of tourism that’s centred on alcohol, partying and general rowdy, anti-social behaviour.
In an age where more people are travelling and travel is more accessible, tourist areas are choosing to change to a model where they receive fewer tourists who spend more money per head on activities that lean more towards cultural or outdoor sporting and fitness activities.
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Emma landed in journalism after nearly 30 years as an executive in the Internet industry. She lives in Bédar and her interests include raising one eyebrow, reckless thinking and talking to people randomly. If you have a great human interest story you can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org
I have had an apartment in Aldea Blanca for 40 years. There is a Cub NAO adjacent to us. In the season the behaviour of drunken & has sniffing people is disgusting. Their attire is crude, both male & female. Why do the Police turn a blind eye? We also have noisy motor vehicles showing off & causing a nuisance,., what can we do to stop these ASBOS???Please
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