SHARE
COPY LINK

TOURISM

Barcelona to hand out €3,000 fines to tour guides with groups of more than 15

Barcelona City Council has approved new rules to limit the size of tour groups in the Old Town to just 15 people, in a bid to stop the overcrowding caused by tourists in the Catalan capital's city centre.

Barcelona tourists
Tour group sizes in Barcelona's Old Town will be limited to 15. Photo: LLUIS GENE / AFP

The Old Town or Ciutat Vella is one of the most-visited areas of Barcelona and includes well-known tourist areas such as the Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas and El Born. Here, it’s not uncommon to see large tour groups, blocking up the narrow streets and stopping the flow of pedestrians.

The new restrictions were announced by the councillor of the Ciutat Vella district, Jordi Rabassa, and the councillor for Tourism and Creative Industries, Xavier Marcé and are to be put on public display to ensure all potential disagreements can be solved before the rules come into force, which could be as early as the end of July 2022.

While groups will be limited to 15 people within the Ciutat Vella, in the city’s other neighbourhoods, where streets are slightly wider and it’s not so crowded, up to 30 people will be allowed per group.

Barcelona City Council has also introduced restrictions on the number of tour groups that can enter certain areas at one time. For example, a maximum of eight tour groups will be allowed in the central Plaça Sant Jaume, where the Ayuntamiento is located, five groups will be permitted to enter the colonnaded Plaça Reial, while a limit of three groups can visit the squares around the old Santa María del Mar church in El Born.

This restriction will affect 13 different areas throughout the city.

The new rules will also introduce 24 one-way pedestrianised areas, where the concentration of tourists is even greater, in a bid to stop a bottleneck of people.

The aim is to make sure that streets are not clogged up by tourists, preventing locals from going about their daily life and accessing areas where they live, work, socialise and run errands. 

Those tour guides who do not comply with the new rules will be faced with fines of between €1,500 and €3,000.

Other rules which will apply to tour groups across the whole city include banning the use of megaphones and making sure that at least 50 percent of the street is left free for others to use.

Barcelona suffered from over-tourism before the Covid-19 pandemic began and in 2019 received a record number of visitors of almost 12 million. This summer has seen a huge increase in tourists after numbers dropped dramatically in 2020 and 2021, and hotel occupation is already at 100 percent for July and August. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

TRAVEL NEWS

EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Two major changes that were due to come into force in 2022 for travellers entering the EU - an enhanced passport scanning system and the introduction of a €7 visa for tourists - have been delayed for a year.

EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Although both the EES and ETIAS schemes are still due to be introduced in the European Commission has pushed back the start dates for both until 2023.

It comes amid a chaotic summer for travel in Europe, with airports struggling with staff shortages and strikes while some crossings from the UK to France have been hit by long delays as extra post-Brexit checks are performed during the peak holiday season. 

The two separate changes to travel in the EU and Schengen zone were originally due to come into effect in 2020, but were delayed because of the pandemic. Now the EES system is expected to come into effect in May 2023, while ETIAS will come into effect in November 2023. 

The EES – Entry and Exit System – is essentially enhanced passport scanning at the EU’s borders and means passports will not only be checked for ID and security, but also for entry and exit dates, in effect tightening up enforcement of the ’90 day rule’ that limits the amount of time non-EU citizens can spend in the Bloc without having a visa.

It will not affect non-EU citizens who live in an EU country with a residency permit or visa.

There have been concerns that the longer checks will make transiting the EU’s external borders slower, a particular problem at the UK port of Dover, where the infrastructure is already struggling to cope with enhanced post-Brexit checks of people travelling to France.

You can read a full explanation of EES, what it is and who is affects HERE.

The ETIAS system will apply to all non-EU visitors to an EU country – eg tourists, second-home owners, those making family visits and people doing short-term work.

It will involve visitors registering in advance for a visa and paying a €7 fee. The visa will be valid for three years and can be used for multiple trips – essentially the system is very similar to the ESTA visa required for visitors to the USA. 

Residents of an EU country who have a residency card or visa will not need one.

You can read the full details on ETIAS, how it works and who it affects HERE.

Both systems will apply only to people who do not have citizenship of an EU country – for example Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians – and will be used only at external EU/Schengen borders, so it won’t be required when travelling between France and Germany, for example. 

SHOW COMMENTS