Barcelona tackles overtourism with city centre restrictions

Authorities in Barcelona have introduced new measures to tackle problems with large tour groups in one of Spain’s most popular destinations.

The Catalonian city is bringing in stricter controls on guided tours amid a nationwide crackdown on tourist behaviour.

The latest rules will see noise restrictions, number caps and one-way systems for tours in the historic centre including around Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Battló and FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou.

As visitor numbers return to pre-pandemic levels, the regulations aim to reduce the pressure on local residents.

What are the new rules for guided tours in Barcelona?

Barcelona’s new measures are focused on curbing the disruption caused by large tour groups in the city centre.

Tour guides will have to forgo megaphones and adopt headsets and earpieces instead, or speak at a normal volume.

Tour operators are required to plot walking routes that “minimise inconvenience.” Tours must also adhere to a one-way system and routes are limited to 24 streets and squares.

During the tour, leaders have been asked to choose stops where there is plenty of space in order to avoid becoming an obstacle for other pedestrians.

Groups are capped at a maximum of 30 people, which drops to 15 in the very narrow streets of the Ciutat Vella, the city’s oldest neighbourhood. Some historic sights will only permit groups of three to eight visitors at a time.

Tour companies have also been asked to encourage visitors to pre-book tours in advance instead of touting for bookings in the city streets.

What are the new rules for tourists in Spain?

Barcelona’s restrictions come as the country clamps down on undesirable tourist behaviour.

In Playa de Palma, one of Mallorca’s most popular party districts, business owners have coordinated to launch a dress code at certain bars and restaurants.

Visitors will be refused entry if they are wearing swimsuits, football kits and any accessories bought from street stalls such as umbrella hats or gold chains. The bar and restaurant proprietors hope the new measures will help combat the area’s so-called “drunken tourism.”

Spain’s authorities have also introduced a “six drinks a day” rule for all-inclusive holidays at certain resorts. Holidaymakers must pay extra if they want additional drinks.

In May, Barcelona announced a plan to curb tourist crime over the summer. “Operation summer” will see 12 per cent more police officers in the city’s busiest areas and harsher sentences against repeat offenders.

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