Barcelona limits tour group sizes in latest move to tackle overtourism: Travel Weekly
Taking new steps to tackle overtourism and reduce noise pollution, Barcelona has capped tour party sizes and banned the use of megaphones during tours.
The new rules come as travel demand and tourist numbers continue to rise after more than two years of Covid restrictions.
Tour groups are no longer allowed to exceed 30 people on tours in downtown Barcelona, known as District One, where levels of tourist density are highest. Neighborhoods within this district include the Gothic Quarter; Sant Pere, Santa Caterina and La Ribera; and La Barceloneta.
Tour groups in smaller areas will be limited to 15 people.
One-way directions will be enforced in 24 streets and squares, such as Paradise Street and Plaça Sant Felip Neri Square, with the aim of keeping pedestrian traffic flowing. The breaks that tour guides take to explain the history of a place or attraction should be brief on busy days.
The use of megaphones during city tours is no longer permitted. Instead, the city wants tour guides to use radio equipment or whispering devices to communicate with guests during tours in public spaces and on public transportation.
The Travel Corporation, parent company of several tour operators including Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Contiki, 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 constantly change,” said Melissa da Silva, President of TTC Tour Brands. “Brands are already using whisper devices to ensure noise levels do not disturb those not on tour. Travel directors have worked diligently to ensure group size limits are adhered to without affecting daily activities while travelling.”
Barcelona is Spain’s second-largest city after Madrid and has struggled with overtourism issues for years, with its most recent aim to ban short-term rentals. In 2021, Barcelona became the first major European city to ban short-term room rentals of less than 30 days.
Elizabeth Becker, author of “Overbooked: the Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism,” said Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau “won the election on promises to tame tourism, and she is delivering on that promise.” Colau was first elected in 2015 and is in her second term as mayor.
“The order to limit tour group sizes is accompanied by recent restrictions on short-term rentals,” Becker said, adding that Colau’s tourism plans are “expansive” and include fewer cars and buses. tourist in the city.