Santiago bans new souvenir shops

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souvenir shops

The city council of Santiago de Compostela has decided to suspend the establishment of new souvenir shops for a year. This measure aims to protect traditional commerce and retain the population in the old city.

The temporary suspension of new tourist shops, such as souvenir shops and backpack storage facilities, is intended to help restore the balance between tourism and local commerce.

Closure of 600 holiday rentals

In addition to the restriction on new tourist shops, the city will also close 600 illegal holiday rentals. These properties operated without the proper municipal permits, contributing to rising rental prices and a shortage of available housing for residents. The city council hopes this measure will ease the pressure on the local housing market and improve livability for the inhabitants.

Tourist tax back on the agenda

The city council is also reconsidering the introduction of a tourist tax, an idea that has been proposed before but never implemented. The tax is intended to cover the costs associated with mass tourism and invest in the preservation of the city. Although the regional government of Galicia is hesitant, the discussion about this measure continues.

Plan for sustainable tourism

During a press conference, the city council emphasised the importance of a sustainable tourism policy. The current measures are only a first step in a broader plan to better regulate the city and balance tourist activities with the needs of the local population. This also includes limiting the conversion of commercial spaces to residential use in the old city.

Tourism in Santiago

In 2023, Santiago de Compostela welcomed nearly 1 million tourists, with a population of just under 100,000 residents. Almost half of the tourists were from countries other than Spain. The number of foreign tourists in the city surpassed that of 2022 by 21%. Since 2013, this number has increased by 70%. Most foreign tourists visit Santiago as pilgrims after completing the Camino de Santiago.

Anti-tourism sentiments

Anti-tourism sentiments have been growing among residents of islands such as Mallorca, Ibiza, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote. In cities like Barcelona and Seville, locals also feel increasing pressure from tourists. In Santiago, more and more residents are becoming annoyed by the crowds of tourists in their city centre. Statistics confirm the growing perception that tourism is overwhelming the small city in northwestern Spain. According to data from the statistics agency INE, the city received 95,691 visitors in June last year alone, nearly as many as the city’s population, explaining the pressure on the pilgrimage city.

Residents face issues such as overcrowded streets, the disappearance of traditional shops in favour of tourist businesses like souvenir shops, and rising rental prices due to the increase in tourist accommodations. Additionally, waste accumulation and changes in the hospitality offerings cause inconvenience. Neighbourhood associations complain that the city model does not contribute to their daily lives and experience a general rejection of pilgrims and tourists.

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