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Bruges Fights Back 'Disneyfication' With Overtourism Measures

Brugge Sustainability News
by Eben Diskin Jun 18, 2019

It may look like it’s straight out of a fairy tale, but Dirk De fauw, the mayor of Bruges, is afraid that his small city, an incredibly popular tourist destination, is turning into actual Disneyland.

To remedy the situation, the Flemish city is now implementing new regulations to curb overtourism, such as a cap on the number of cruise ships allowed in the port and a ban on all advertising campaigns that encourage daytrippers. Now, only two ships will be allowed to dock at a time — compared to the previous five — and only on weekdays to prevent weekend overcrowding.

Mayor Dirk De fauw said, “We have to control the influx more if we don’t want it to become a complete Disneyland here. We have to aim for quality tourism, people who stay here for a few days, eat well, visit museums.” According to The Guardian, “Bruges is visited by 8.3 million people a year […] and yet just 2.5 million of those spend a night.”

During peak tourism days, visitors to the small city can outnumber the 120,000 residents three to one, and it’s easy to understand why. The historic center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 200, and is considered to be one of the best examples of a preserved medieval town in Europe.

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