Another European city is sick of tourists flocking in the summer to take a selfie and eat a waffle. Will restrictions be introduced to bring back the comfort of living for residents? Be sure to read.
A few months ago, before the holiday season, we reported that this year’s summer in Europe will look a bit different than before. Many regions and cities – incl. in Italy – announced that it would introduce limits for tourists. This applies, for example, to visits to Florence or visits to certain beaches. All this to ensure the quality of life of local residents, as well as to take care of the environment.
It seems that another European region – this time located in Belgium – may decide on a similar solution. Local residents are fed up with tourists and openly say that they have reached the “red line”.
Bruges fights with tourists
Thinking about gingerbread houses, canals and traditional European bars, the only place that comes to mind is Bruges. Located in Flanders, Belgium, the site has enjoyed city status since the 12th century. And it has long been very popular among visitors. The interest, however, is local.
“We don’t need more tourists!” – say the locals who live in Bruges. The Belgian city experiences a real siege every summer. No wonder – it is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe.
The inhabitants of Bruges are convinced that summer tourism has reached its limits. Arnout Goegebuer, a 55-year-old architect, stated that now the city has really reached the “red line”. It is not enough that there is no need for more visitors here, everyone is thinking about how to reduce their number.
People don’t want more visitors
Eight million tourists visit Bruges annually, most of whom come for day trips in the summer. Locals are not against tourism as it generates income, prestige and employment. However, they argue that it must be balanced so that the city does not turn into a Disney heritage park.
Kurt Van Der Pieter, a 62-year-old retiree who has lived in the city all his life, says tourism in Bruges is returning to pre-pandemic levels. This also applies to cruise ships mooring in the neighboring port of Zeebrugge and kicking off tourists who only stay there for a few hours. As a result, the inhabitants face many problems.
“The people of Bruges say it’s too much. And on some days, even way too much,” he says.
The situation is not exclusive to Bruges. Other leading European canal cities, such as Venice and Amsterdam, have taken steps to curb the number of visitors. For example, they did not allow cruise ships to dock in their ports.
In 2019, Bruges implemented a five-year strategy to increase overnight stays, spread the number of tourists geographically and yearly, and lure visitors more interested in culture and gastronomy than selfies and waffles.
“Our goal is not to get more visitors, it’s not the number that matters, but the type of visitors,” said Anne De Meerleer, a spokeswoman for Visit Bruges.
What do you think?