Taking new steps to combat overtourism and reduce noise pollution, Barcelona has limited the size of tour groups and banned the use of megaphones on tours.
The new rules come as travel demand and tourism numbers continue to rise after two extra years of restrictions on Covid.
Tour groups are no longer allowed to exceed 30 people on tours conducted in Barcelona city center, known as District One, where tourist density levels are the highest. Neighborhoods in that district include the Gothic Quarter; Sant Pere, Santa Caterina and La Ribera; at La Barceloneta.
Tour groups in smaller areas are limited to 15 people.
One-way directions will be implemented on 24 streets and squares, such as Paradise Street and Placa Sant Felip Neri square, in an effort to maintain traffic flow. The breaks that tour guides take to explain a location or attraction history need to be kept short on crowded days.
The use of megaphones on guided tours of the city is no longer allowed. Instead, the city wants tour guides to use radio-based equipment or whisper devices to communicate with visitors on tours in public spaces and while on public transportation.
Travel Corporation – the parent of several tour brands, including Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Contiki – has said its tour operators in Barcelona will adapt to the new rules as they have done in the past.
“TTC Tour Brands stays up to date and works closely with local guides and suppliers in all regions to adapt to local restrictions as they continue to evolve,” said Melissa da Silva, president of TTC Tour Brands. “Brands are already using whisper devices to ensure that noise levels do not disturb those not on tour. Travel directors are working diligently to ensure that group size limits are adhered to while not affecting the long. -daily travel activities. “
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid and has battled overtourism issues for years, with its most recent focus on banning short -term rentals. In 2021, Barcelona will become the first major city in Europe to ban short -term room rentals of less than 30 days.
Elizabeth Becker, author of “Overbooked: the Exploding Travel and Tourism Business,” said Barcelona mayor Ada Colau “won the election on promises to tame tourism, and she delivers.” Colau was first elected in 2015 and is in his second term as mayor.
“The ordinance to limit the size of tour groups has recent restrictions on short -term rentals,” Becker said, adding that Colau’s tourism plans are “extensive” and include less car traffic and tour-bus in the city.