“It’s worse than migration,” says an Arran spokesperson, “they are destroying our neighbourhoods and culture!” Arran is the radical anti-tourist movement in Spain.
In Barcelona, Rome and Venice, protest marches have turned violent, and travel advisories have been issued by British and American authorities.
Tensions between hordes of foreign tourists and nationalist locals have been escalating for the past two years, and are now boiling over. Share bikes and Uber cars have had their tyres slashed, and bricks have been hurled through Airbnb windows.
Many historical cities on the Mediterranean coastline are complaining that cruise ships are disgorging floods of tourists that clog the streets and stress the aging and inadequate infrastructure. “Even without meaning to, they trash the city and damage the ancient cobblestones,” says the mayor of Dubrovnik. “There aren’t even enough toilets for all these visitors, so we are restricting cruises this season.”
This is arguably a short-sighted approach, as many tourist hot-spots depend on the annual influx to boost their stagnant economies, but local sentiment is unforgiving. “If we allow this to carry on,” says one old Italian grandpa, “there’ll be nothing left to see! It’s worse than the Allied invasion during the war.”
And many local residents are bitter that the seasonal jobs like waiting on tables or driving Ubers have all been taken by migrants and refugees, so there is little incentive to open their cities – and their hearts – to tourists. “The British and Americans are bad enough,” grumbles an unemployed youth in Croatia, “but these days it’s like the whole town has been teleported to China!”
If you’re looking for a city break this summer, it’s best to check TripAdvisor for a peaceful destination that’s far from the crowds. And remember to smile at the locals!