FURIOUS tourism experts have claimed that new laws limiting the number of visitors to a group of Spanish islands could end up “killing” them.
The protected marine islands of Cíes, Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada make up the so-called Atlantic Islands of the Galicia National Park and offer some of the best beaches in the world because of the turquoise water and white sand.
Strict environmental rules are already in force to protect the environment but the Galician government wants to tighten them up even more with tougher restrictions on tourist numbers.
During the high season – Easter and between May 15 and September 15 – Ons will only be able to take 1,300 people per day.
The limit for Cíes will be 1,800 people.
In the low season, the maximum number of visitors goes down to 450 per day, while in Sálvora and Cortegada, the daily limit will be 250 all year round.
The Galician government also intends to ban a regular boat service to the islands as another way of keeping visitor numbers down.
Tourism companies operating on the islands have slammed the new restrictions as “ridiculous and out of touch”.
They said in a joint statement: “It is a serious mistake.
“The new rules don’t meet the reality of the demand or interest these destinations are receiving at international tourism fairs.
“They don’t respond to any conservation objective and hurt those companies direct or indirectly linked to travel, lodgings or the hotel industry.”
The businesses say the government should be looking at other ways to promote awareness of the beauty of the islands, not with a blanket ban on visitor numbers.
Ons, they point out, currently receives 1,600 to 1,800 visitors per day in August but it is planned to slash this to 1,300 in the high season and 450 at other times.
One beach in Spain, As Catedrais in Lugo, has a limit of 4,812 people a day yet it only covers eight hectares.
Protesters said: “The Xunta of Galicia has drawn up this document in a hasty way, without consulting local people.
“It leaves many pending questions about the preservation and conservation of this tourist archipelago, including the displacement of its inhabitants or the establishment of a overnight stay in rental houses, pensions, hostels or tourist rooms.
“It’s going to harm the tourist interests of Galicia and the economic activity of the islands.”
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It isn’t the first restrictions placed on tourists in Spain – early this year, a Canary Island announced that it was looking to make holidaymakers request written permission before their visit.
Benidorm recently announced the ban of mobility scooters, segways and hoverboards after a spate of incidents on pedestrian paths.
Anyone caught flouting the rules will have to pay up to £430 in fines.
Happy hours and 2-4-1 drinking deals are also banned with fines up to £2,500.