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Barcelona regulates walking tours: under 30 people, no speakers, and one-way streets

Legislation to sanction guides not respecting rules with fines of up to €3,000

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23 June 2022 01:46 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Barcelona has regulated walking tours around the city, but more specifically in the Ciutat Vella neighborhood. New measures will limit attendees to less than 30 people per tour group and even fewer in certain areas, ban speakers, and establish 24 one-way streets in the city center.

The new decree was published on Thursday and could sanction guides who do not follow the rules with fines ranging from €1,500 to €3,000. The law is expected to come into effect around July 23, after the public exhibition and appeals timeframe.

Once officially in place, tour guides will have to use audio guides and confirm they will not use speakers in order to reduce noise pollution. 

Other measures include ensuring safe and accessible tours, as well as setting up start, finish and break stops. All these will have to be clearly marked in the tour’s predicted route. Other good practices expect not getting new tourists along the way, promoting scheduled visits, buying monument tickets in advance, and planning a new mobility plan to give enough capacity for passengers to hop on and off of the buses.

Strict measures in the center

All of the new regulations mentioned above will be in place across the city, however, the city center will have specific and more strict measures. 

The Ciutat Vella neighborhood, with areas such as the Gothic Quarter, Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera, and Barceloneta’s site with several beaches, will see a limit of less than 15 people per group. 

In this case, audio guides will be mandatory and there will be 24 one-way streets and squares.

Tours will have to do shorter explanations in several monumental hotspots, especially when crowded days. For example, Sant Jaume square, with the city council and the Catalan government HQs buildings, but also in the Fossar de les Moreres, literally "Grave of the Mulberries," a memorial square honoring those dead while defending the city during the Spanish Succession war in 1714.

Other places that will have extra limits are the plaça de Sant Felip Neri square, a small beautiful space in the city, the Palau de la Música music hall, or the Lluís Millet square, right in front of the hall, named after the founder of the Orfeó Català choral society. 

To allow other passersby, tours will have to leave half of the street when walking in one of the one-way streets. In addition, groups will walk in a line of two people maximum

The neighborhood councilor, Jordi Rabassa, says they agree with tourists visiting the city, but in some areas, tourism must be regulated for locals not to be affected. 

"Tourism in Ciutat Vella does not regulate itself, it needs measures, and the new decree allows [the city council] to get rid of the bad practices," Jordi Rabassa said. 

1.85 million travelers

After the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of people are visiting Catalonia. Only in May, 1.85 million travelers visited the territory, triple the data registered in the same period last year, when 555,768 came.

The figure, however, is still 7.2% low compared to 2019 levels, according to data released by the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE) on Thursday. 

The number rose in May pushed by the arrival of overseas tourists, 1.16 million. In 2021, only 180,053 international visitors came to Catalonia.

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  • A tour guide in front of Barcelona's cathedral on October 11, 2021 (by Jordi Bataller)

  • A tour guide in front of Barcelona's cathedral on October 11, 2021 (by Jordi Bataller)

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