- Tara Jessop
Recent weeks have seen a wave of anti-tourist protests erupting across Europe, from Spain to Croatia and beyond. As local residents voice their anger at rising housing costs, overcrowded streets and a sense that the tourist boom benefits some more than others, here are some of the places you may want to steer clear of this summer if you want to avoid confrontation.
Protests kicked off back in July in the Italian city of Venice, where some 20 million visitors a year are added to the 55,000 residents who live here all year round. The protests saw around 2,000 locals take to the streets to denounce, among other things, the environmental impact of tourism on the city, with tourist buses and boats swamping the city in peak season, as well as the rising cost of renting property in the city.
While there have not so far been any official protests against tourism in Milan this summer, the local council has had to deal with growing discontent on the subject from local residents. As a result, the council has introduced a ban on selfie sticks, food trucks and littering, in an attempt to curb what it describes as ‘antisocial behaviour’. Glass bottles and fireworks are some other banned items, as they are seen as adding to the litter problem.
Tackling similar issues to those described in Milan, Rome‘s local council has introduced a ban on a number of items and actions that it believes are affecting the quality of life of local residents. Stricter regulations have been imposed for drinking on the streets of Rome at night, as well as a ban on paddling in public fountains. Tourists have been asked to stop littering by throwing leftover food and wrappers on the ground, and to be more considerate of street cleanliness.
The Catalan capital has seen waves of anti-tourist protests, with graffiti saying ‘tourists go home’ and ‘tourism kills’ popping up across the city. Worse cases of vandalism have involved a tourist bus that had its tyres slashed and its windows spray-painted, and tourist bikes being targeted. Local residents are angry at rising rent costs, with certain neighbourhoods, such as the Gothic Quarter, having more beds available for tourists than for permanent residents.
Palma de Mallorca
The island of Mallorca has seen anti-tourist demonstrations and graffiti across the city of Palma de Mallorca, as well as smoke flares being set off in front of diners in a popular tourist area. Residents fear that tourism is turning the town into a theme park, where locals can no longer afford to live. Last August saw a record two million visitors in one day across the Balearic Islands, nearly doubling the normal population size.
The northern Spanish city of Bilbao is another place where locals have voiced anger at the impact of tourism in their area. Activists spray-painted the Basque Country tourist board in Bilbao earlier in August, as locals voiced their frustration at the changing face of the city. Attractions such as the Guggenheim Bilbao museum and the Old Town of Bilbao make Bilbao one of the biggest tourist sites in the Basque Country.
Mostly known for its world-famous gastronomic scene, San Sebastian made the headlines recently for a number of anti-tourism protests. The next large protest is set for August 17, during the height of the Semana Grande (‘Big Week’) public celebrations – a popular attraction for visitors to the Basque Country.
The Croatian city of Dubrovnik has been one of the latest tourist destinations to introduce measures to appease angry local residents. Plans have been introduced to regulate the number of tourists in the Old Town of Dubrovnik, as well as to restrict the number of cruise ships entering the port from five a day to two. Up to 5,000 cruise-ship guests enter the city each day, with 10.5% more tourists visiting the city in July 2016 compared to the same month last year.
In recent years Hvar has become famous for being one of the biggest party islands in Europe, rivalling the likes of Ibiza. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by local residents, who have voiced their discontent at the antisocial behaviour of the party-goers. The local council has introduced huge fines for drinking in public (€700), wearing swimsuits in the historic town centre (€600) and not wearing a top in the town (€500).
The Netherlands saw their own anti-tourist protests this summer, with activists squatting the apartment building of the CEO of holiday-booking website Booking.com in Amsterdam. Locals have seen a surge in rental prices and dangerous overcrowding in certain areas. There has also been a rise in anti-tourist graffiti, with slogans such as ‘stop mass tourism’ popping up on walls of what are believed to be illegal rental properties.
Defecating in the open air, stealing road signs and even stealing a young lamb to be cooked on a barbecue are just some of the actions of tourists that have angered locals in Iceland. Tourism here has boomed since the 2008 financial crisis practically destroyed the local economy, yet recently, local residents in cities such as Reykjavik have struggled to cope with the social and environmental impact of the industry.