TORREVIEJA – As soon as the tourists come, the number of street vendors in Spain increases. Usually, it is Africans without a residence permit who display their merchandise on rugs and are therefore called ‘top mantas’. Manta means blanket in Spanish.
The ‘manteros’ otherwise known as “lookie lookie guys” often sell imitations of famous brand products such as trainers, bags, sunglasses and watches. To protect local shopkeepers from this unfair competition, the municipality of Torrevieja recently launched a campaign to inform people about the introduction of fines of €200 for those buying products from street vendors on the boulevard.
This measure is included in the latest amendment to the regulation on the use of public spaces. “This is a further step in our fight against street vending,” Federico Alarcón, Councillor for Police, Security and Emergency, explained to NIUS. “We used to go after the street vendor exclusively with the local police or the Guardia Civil and confiscate the counterfeit objects. We also had police presence in the area to prevent this practice, a problem in all tourist towns on the coast, he adds.
Discouraging the demand
In Torrevieja, the population increases fivefold in the summer. Therefore, they felt it was important to “address not only the supply but also the demand.” For this reason, an ordinance has been passed whereby anyone who buys something from street vendors will be fined. “And part of the job is to be able to inform the citizen. Especially the tourist, who may not be aware,” Alarcón assures. They should know that buying products from sellers without a license is punishable by law.
The municipal strategy is being widely disseminated through both Spanish and English language advertisements on social media, advertising on LED screens, and is also present in local shops.
Other municipalities that issue fines
Other municipalities in Spain preceded Torrevieja. For example, Barcelona issues fines of up to €500 for those who buy products from a street vendor. Castelldefels is trying to discourage trade with fines of up to €750. If you are caught buying a top manta in Palma de Mallorca, you can expect a fine of €150. For Salou, a fine of €300 applies and in Peñíscola it concerns fines of up to €750. If caught again in the latter place, the fine can even amount to €1,500.