Tourism triggers social unrest

In Venice, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca activists are demonstrating against growing numbers of tourists. The problems connected with mass tourism such as rent hikes, pollution and noise are driving the activists to come up with creative ideas, but also to vandalism. Not all commentators agree with the complaints.

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Dnevnik (SI) /

Tourist bashing is the new xenophobia

First the refugees were the enemy and now it's the tourists - Dnevnik is having déjà-vu:

“They create crowds, they are loud, they only speak English or other incomprehensible languages, they have a different culture, and they don't respect ours, they are stingy and inappropriately dressed. This is what people are saying about tourists now. With the refugees and migrants at least people could relieve themselves by saying: Go back to where you came from. … You knew that there were just one million of them and they all wanted to go to Germany… But there are more than 300 million tourists in Europe and they all want to go south. Without the work-seeking migrants it won't be possible to provide for the hated do-nothings, who just expect to be served all day.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

We need an international policy

Agriculture professor Louise Fresco calls in the NRC Handelsblad for a regulation on mass tourism:

“Tourism is a sector that we cannot allow to grow unregulated. Just as we have learned over the past 25 years that the liberalisation of global trade needs regulating to guarantee working conditions, food safety and environmental protection, so we will need to establish measures for tourism. This will not be popular, but I think that an international agreement on tourism is unavoidable.”

Kapital Daily (BG) /

Minister understeps his competences

Bulgaria’s deputy prime minister Valeri Simeonov has declared war on loud music at tourist resorts on the Black Sea. At the height of the holiday season he is checking up on restaurants, bars and discotheques accompanied by police officers. That’s not his job, Kapital Daily complains:

“It’s not the deputy prime minister’s job to go round the pubs at night. If he thinks people will only obey the regulations if he is personally present, then he hasn’t understood how the state functions. Public order results from systematic, continual and impartial control. The law applies to everyone regardless of whether Valeri Simeonov happens to be there or not.”

Haniotika Nea (GR) /

Don't abandon Crete to the tourists

The Cretan regional newspaper Haniotika Nea stresses that something urgently needs to be done about the hordes of tourists descending on the Cretan city of Chania too:

“There is a danger that the old town will lose its character, for example if new hotels are built at monumental sites like Kastelli Hill. On the beaches of Balos, Elafonissi and Kedrodasos people are asking how long these amazing natural paradises will be able to survive if no environmental management plan is implemented. … In Chania we have not grasped that the cultural heritage monuments and natural eco-systems are the economic, social and cultural wealth of the native population. Other European cities are making last-minute attempts to preserve their unique features. What are we doing?”

Pravda (SK) /

Bratislava is losing its charm

Author Silvia Ruppeldtová complains in a guest commentary for Pravda about how much the Slovakian capital is losing its original character:

“It's been a long time since I felt good in my home town. Bratislava, like many remote tourist destinations, has succumbed to the disease of decadent prosperity. … As in the West, here too, the unique local places and authentic way of life are disappearing. Instead of gypsy music all we hear now is sterile 'entertainment' music. Our city centres may look like jewellery boxes, but more and more they lack the 'smell of life'.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Tourism forcing its way into residential areas

Budapest is also a victim of mass tourism, especially with the rise of apartment rental site Airbnb, laments Magyar Nemzet:

“It is becoming an increasingly common part of Budapest life that locals cannot sleep because of the noise made by tourists. Since the rise of the so-called apartment hotels which owners rent out via Airbnb, tourists are also descending upon the residential areas of the city. ... Because so many young, party-mad tourists are pouring into trendy party capital Budapest, the situation has reached boiling point and something needs to be done about it immediately. ... Airbnb is also putting pressure on the housing market and driving up rental prices – much to the chagrin of the locals.”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

Crazed anti-tourists

Diário de Notícias observes the protest actions with incredulity:

“Tourist busses are being attacked, tires slashed, and posters and grafitti are spreading anti-tourist slogans. The Europeans are crazy! Tourism phobia is gaining traction - and smacks of the typical blindness of people with nothing better to do. ... How else to explain the fact that so many people who otherwise defend freedom, democratic values and human rights now want to prevent people from travelling wherever they want? That suddenly the democratisation of tourism is seen as a plague? ... The only thing missing now is for people to start getting nostalgic about the days when travel was only available to the few”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Travellers seeking only Facebook fodder

We need to rediscover travel, Lola García, deputy editor-in-chief of La Vanguardia recommends:

“Travel has become a consumer habit in a society that is as hyperactive as it is bored to death. … While Marco Polo travelled to open up commercial routes, my generation was still able to use holidays as a time to reflect, for example on whether it was time to break up with one's partner. But today's tourists flit from one destination to another demanding powerful experiences that they can add to their Facebook accounts. … Travel doesn't make us immune to intolerance anymore. For that we would have to relearn how to travel and remember that, as [Scottish novelist Robert Louis] Stevenson put it: 'There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.'”

Delo (SI) /

Too cowardly for caps

Slovenia also needs to start thinking about a long-term strategy for tourism in the country, Delo warns, not ruling out the idea of capping tourist numbers:

“It is important to evaluate tourist numbers so that the state can take in the revenues to which it is entitled, making it easier to maintain and develop the infrastructure. But above all an evaluation is important because it will help the tourist industry to determine when maximum capacity has been reached. … Will the people in the community of Piran [on Slovenia's coast] decide that it makes sense to limit the number of tourists? No, because they lack a strategy for doing this. They don't know what kind of tourists should be given priority, or what services to offer them.”

Trends-Tendances (BE) /

Year after year

It won't just be this summer that tensions run high over mass tourism, Trends-Tendances predicts:

“It seems likely that the anti-tourism rhetoric will only increase in volume. Why? In Spain and also in Italy, Greece and Croatia tourism is developing very rapidly because holidaymakers are no longer travelling to Egypt, Tunisia or Turkey for security reasons. This explains the success of southern Europe, which is being reinforced by low-budget airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair. The subject threatens to become a chestnut tree, as [French-speaking] journalists say, and it will blossom at the same every year. Just like back pain or the start of a new school year.”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

Watch out for the golden goose

The leader of the Portuguese leftist block Bloco de Esquerda, Pedro Filipe Soares, warns in Diário de Notícias against naively aspiring to attract ever more tourists:

“In Portugal tourism is seen as the golden goose at the moment. ... But this is a reckless pursuit for which we will pay dearly. ... By pushing tourism to the limit we will destroy everything that makes us unique and attractive. ... It is high time we started thinking about our cities as places for the people who live in them and not for the tourists; that we came up with a housing policy to ensure that there won't be an exodus from the city centres – and that we mustered the courage to curb tourism, not just for the future of the industry but for the future of our cities. ”

ABC (ES) /

Stickers on rental cars are not harmless

Left-wing activists in Mallorca are plastering rental cars with stickers saying "This car is too much." ABC warns that symbolic threats can turn into real violence:

“This is about intimidating people with a sign that may be just a sticker or graffiti today but may tomorrow become a target, because this extreme left is violent and anti-democratic. … The authorities and public opinion shouldn't let themselves be fooled by the ability of these groups to dress up their strategies of urban violence as social causes. The common goal of these groups is to damage Spain's fundamental interests - whether those interests are social peace or the national economy.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Tourism eats its own children

Once celebrated as the main source of foreign currency, today mass tourism does more damage than good, finds Večernji list:

“It is becoming increasingly clear that modern tourism is a pretty aggressive sector which massively pollutes the environment, destroys nature, increases greenhouse gases and above all destroys the lifestyle of the inhabitants of the cities and places that become the destinations of modern nomads. There have been protests and rebellions. Some peaceful, as in Venice, others more aggressive, as in Barcelona. … In short, tourism is destroying the very foundations on which it was built. It is only a matter of time before the natives organise themselves and drive out the invaders.” (ES) /

Permanent residents lose out

More than anything else the rising rents make it clear that the problems caused by mass tourism can't be left for the market alone to resolve, warns

“This is an unequal battle in which money is the weapon. It means that those who rent out holiday flats and their customers always have the upper hand. The naïve who simply want to live normally in such places inevitably lose out. … This phenomenon is at its most extreme on the Balearic Islands. Doctors, police officers and other officials, and even hotel staff can't find places to live that are affordable on Ibiza. Rooms and even balconies are rented out for absurd prices. Vacancies in the health sector or on the police force go unfilled for lack of applicants. This is a social problem that is being ignored by those who only talk of the advantages of tourism.”

Expresso (PT) /

Just extras in our own cities

Tourism must not be allowed to harm more people than it benefits, Expresso demands:

“We must not allow residents to be driven out of city centres, as has already occurred in many cities that have essentially been turned into hotels. … Nor can we allow Lisbon and Porto to lose their character and end up as theme parks. Why? Well, firstly to ensure the sustainability of tourism itself - but also to ensure that we don't end up as extras in our own cities. … We need multifunctional cities, not 'postcard cities' from which all ugly establishments have been banned, however necessary they may be for the local population. … We need tourism to survive. But in order to ensure that tourism doesn't end up hurting more people than it benefits, the politicians need to finally start thinking long-term. ”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

State shuts its eyes to exploitation

Cyprus is also expecting a record number of tourists this year. Phileleftheros points to the downside for people working in tourism:

“Our hoteliers are very happy that we are having a good season as regards tourist numbers. … [But] the more tourism grows, the more intensive the exploitation of employees is in the tourist industry. And the state turns a blind eye. Unfortunately we still see people working from morning to night at seaside resorts and tolerating violations of their collective agreements and working hours.”