Bruges has announced new regulations to cut back on visitor numbers after the mayor said it was turning into “Disneyland”.
It might look straight out of a fairytale, but the vast number of tourists is turning the small city into a busy nightmare. With over 8.3 million visitors in 2018 alone, officials are now introducing new rules for tourists. Bruges has a population of just over 19,500 locals, with tourists outnumbering residents three-to-one.
According to Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Bruges mayor Dirk De fauw said: “We have to control the influx more if we don’t want it to become a complete Disneyland here.”
New regulations include a cap on the number of cruise ships allowed in the port. Another rule will ban advertising campaigns that encourage day trippers to Bruges. The problem, says De fauw, is that visitors are only spending a day in the city. This means that they all flock to the same areas and shops are catering only to tourists.
“The inhabitants of Bruges don’t recognise their own city,” said De fauw. “They see no clothes shops, butchers, bakers. Only chocolate and beer.”
“We have to aim for quality tourism, people who stay here for a few days, eat well, visit museums,” he added.
This isn’t the first time that Bruges made an effort to cut back on overtourism. Previously, the city put a ban on new hotel builds and locals renting out homes to tourists.