What travellers should avoid doing in Spain, according to British media

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street vendors

The New York Times has recently named one of the coves in Cabo de Gata (Almería) as one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. Additionally, National Geographic has highlighted Menorca as the best destination to visit this summer and Vejer de la Frontera as the most charming village to visit in June.

With these national and international accolades, it’s no wonder that travellers choose Spain’s many stunning landscapes for their summer vacations. However, not all the news about visiting Spain is positive.

Avoid street vendors

British newspaper, the Daily Mirror, has issued a serious warning to travellers heading to Spain about an activity that is punishable by law and can result in a fine of up to €200. The warning does not concern crimes like fraud, theft, illicit parties, or inappropriate behaviour but rather a more specific practice: illegal street vending. In an article published on Sunday, the Daily Mirror states: “The popular holiday destination is cracking down on illegal street vendors, who sell everything from trainers and sunglasses to fake designer bags and watches.”

The article further alerts readers to the presence of “undercover police” patrolling some of the most touristy areas, such as the Costa Blanca. “Tourists are often attracted by the bargain prices, but those who buy these cheap souvenirs could now be £170 poorer,” the article adds. However, the amount of the fine depends on the specific municipality and the seriousness of the violation.

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Crackdown on “top manta” vendors

The article also mentions the “manteros” or “top manta” vendors, warning that they often sell counterfeit goods illegally without a license. These sellers often display their products on large rugs. As soon as they see the police, they quickly fold their rugs and run away. “In the Costa del Sol, southern Spain, there have been calls for stricter penalties against buyers who purchase from the so-called ‘lookie lookie men,'” the report points out. Entrepreneurs consider it unfair competition since the manteros do not pay taxes or high rents to sell their merchandise.

The complex issue of illegal street vendors in Spain

Tackling illegal street vending by the police in Spain is a complex issue. There are several reasons why it is sometimes difficult to completely eradicate this practice. First, the number of illegal street vendors is often large and they are spread across busy areas. It is difficult for the police to control and arrest everyone. Additionally, many illegal street vendors are migrants without legal status. They try to survive by selling goods on the street.

The police are faced with a dilemma: on the one hand they have to enforce the law, but on the other hand they do not want to further disadvantage people in a vulnerable position. The authorities also know well behind the scenes there are often organised networks that facilitate illegal street sales, so they focus more on those networks. The individual vendors often do not have a lot of choice and are dependant on these criminal organisations. 

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