DUBROVNIK: Slowly but surely the overtourism debate is heating up in Europe, where cities like Barcelona, and now Dubrovnik, are looking at ways of reducing the number of tourists that flock to the destinations on a daily basis, sometimes outnumbering locals.
Dubrovnik is drastically cutting the number of visitors allowed into its historical town centre, as well as looking at stripping back cruise allowances to help lighten the load.
The Croatian city is going beyond UNESCO’s recommendation of permitting 8000 people per day inside the mediaeval walls, instead dropping it to just 4000.
“We don’t want to go with the maximum, we want to go lower than that,” Dubrovnik’s Mayor, Mato Franković, told Telegraph Travel.
He said the move was instigated in order to preserve the quality of tourist’s experiences in Dubrovnik, which was not a previous priority, as seen by UNESCO’s warning that the city could lose its world heritage status if they continued at this pace.
Now new measures are being introduced, such as new CCTV cameras to help monitor and even block tourists from passing through the city’s three gates. But this isn’t enough, Franković said, and next on his radar are the cruise ships.
He is also targeting cruise ships arrival times as well, with hopes of moving them outside of peak times, especially the weekends.
“I am not here to make people happy but to make the quality of life in the city better,” he told
“Some of the cruise lines will disagree with what I’m saying but my main goal is to ensure quality for tourists and I cannot do it by keeping the situation as it is.
“We will lose money in the next two years – a million euros maybe by cutting the number of tourists – but in the future we will gain much more. We deserve to be a top quality destination.”
In 2016, 529 ships called at the Dubrovnik port just over three kilometres from the Old Town, bringing almost 800,000 passengers.
And in August last year, over 10,000 visitors bought tickets to walk through Dubrovnik’s key attractions in just one day, a record which is expected to be easily beaten this summer.
The number of residents permanently living in the town, meanwhile, has slipped from 5000 in 1991 to just over 1000.
“Currently we have a problem with Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Those three days are complicated for us. We cannot have from 8am to 2pm, six cruise ships, then after 2pm, nothing at all,” Franković said.
Franković explained to Telegraph Travel that he would cut the number of ships arriving in these peak times, and attempt to move them to weekdays, as well as imposing limits on tour operators running day trips in the city.
“It was something that was not controlled and not planned,” he admitted.
“Forbidding a bigger number coming into the city at the same time will gain a quality. I am 100 per cent sure the cruise ship passengers will be happy with that.”
The Old Town has gained wild success thanks to the popular Game of Thrones TV series, and before this, Star Wars and Robin Hood were also partly filmed in the city.
Dubrovnik was also listed in one of the top eight cities worldwide that quite loathe tourism of this veracity, with these measures set to come in over Franković’s four-year, starting next year with more to follow in 2019.
“I guarantee that Dubrovnik will change,” he said.
Tourism is growing fast in places like Spain, where the fight against overtourism is strongest, as campaigners step up their intimidation tactics against tourists.
“Tourism is making the cities too expensive to live in as people rent out their flats to tourists and residents are forced out. It is forcing people to work in an industry where they are exploited with low wages for long hours.
“A small group of businessmen are making a lot of money out of this but it is not benefiting the majority. It is destroying the Catalan lands.”
On its Twitter account, Arran claims that its actions aim to “curb the mass tourism that is destroying Mallorca and condemning the working classes of the Països Catalans to miserable living conditions”.