Police decided to prevent troubles at the hands of drunk tourists at Lloret de Mar
Lloret de Mar is one of the most popular tourist destinations along the Costa Brava yet some tourists themselves are tearing this beach resort apart. Clashes with police, particularly over the last month, have sparked calls for greater security and a crack-down on the drinking culture that has fostered in the town.
Barcelona (ACN). \u2013 The town of Lloret de Mar, on the Costa Brava has attracted foreign tourists for the last sixty years for its rich culture and beautiful coastline. Known for its accessibility and good value for money it has become ever more popular. However, its reputation has soured with the realisation that it has increasingly attracted the wrong crowd. This summer saw a season of young, foreign and typically drunk tourists taking over the town\u2019s nights in waves of criminality. This has escalated over the last month, when clashes with police spiralled into violent fights, multiple arrests and even the murder of a 15 year old boy. Anger over the quality of tourism and the impact that this has had on Lloret de Mar is rising within the local community along with fears over the future of the town\u2019s tourism industry, upon which Lloret relies. To combat this, co-operative policing, between different police departments, will be in operation throughout the summer to monitor public behaviour and safety. The Mayor of Lloret de Mar, Romà Codina, has said that he plans to introduce measures such as more surveillance and a ban on drinks promotions in nightclubs, in an attempt to curb violent actions and restore the reputation of Lloret de Mar as a fun but peaceful beach resort once more.
The Mediterranean town Lloret de Mar, situated on the Catalan coast just 1 hour drive North of Barcelona, has been gaining in popularity over the past decade as one of the most cost effective resorts along the Costa Brava. Being only 70 km from Barcelona and 34 km from Girona, it is easily accessible to European tourists. For French citizens living near the border, Lloret de Mar can be reached in one and a half hours, using the AP-7 highway which connects Catalonia with Southern France. With 7 kilometres of sandy beaches, which have consistently won the Blue Flag eco-award, as well as many and varied recreational activities, Lloret de Mar, had, until recently, a reputation as a safe, family destination.
In recent times however, its appeal has attracted 18-30s package holiday groups. Lloret de Mar is increasingly marketed by external travel agents as a wild party destination, with sun, sea, and and, of course, cheap alcohol. The high concentration of tourists during the summer, combined with a binge-drinking attitude has, according to police, produced an extreme form of criminal behaviour that would not be expected of the local population.
Serious crime in Lloret de Mar
Wednesday night marked the latest criminal spree, with six people being arrested and forty two identified by the police for illegal activity. This was part of a joint operation between the Catalan Police, Local Police and the Spanish Police. Those arrested were of multiple nationalities and age groups. Three were arrested red-handed for stealing valuables from vehicles, one was arrested for a crime against public health and two for causing injury. In addition, forty two people were identified by the police, seven of whom were involved in prostitution. As a result twenty five people have been moved to police headquarters under national immigration laws with deportation proceedings being initiated in five cases already. In a crackdown the police shut down two vendors selling drinks in public despite prohibition by law. They also investigated thirteen local establishments only to discover that there was a dangerous lack of private security within them.
This news comes as the Court of Appeal of Lyon, France, has approved the extradition of two French men, Remi Romai A. and Jeremy P, both 21, on suspicion of murdering a 15 year old boy on July 17th in Lloret de Mar following an argument. The boy was a resident of Lloret de Mar, whose British parents owned a restaurant in the town. He died following a stab wound to the chest. The extradition is not expected to be immediate, as the decision is likely to be appealed. The men were arrested in the town of Isle d'Abeau close to Lyon a month after the event but have not yet stood trial. The case remains under a secret indictment, although the City Council of Lloret de Mar has announced that it will act as a private prosecutor in the case.
Far from being isolated or individual incidents, the back catalogue of criminality in Lloret stretches as far back as the tourist season. Two weeks ago, twenty tourists were arrested following a riot at a nightclub. And before that Spanish police encountered violence from a crowd of 400 drunk tourists who refused to leave the city centre once the nightclubs closed in the early hours of the morning. The police fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
Quality versus quantity when it comes to tourism
Examples of such violence are not unfamiliar to the residents of Lloret de Mar who have been desperately calling for action. The insecurity in the area, particularly at night stands at odds to the picturesque image that the official tourist board promotes to tourists. Highlighting some of the towns beautiful attractions, such as the Gothic Church of Sant Romà, the Medieval Castle of Sant Joan, the beaches, the shops and the multiple children's activities, Lloret de Mar tries to cover over the cracks and project an image of its potential as a holiday destination.
While foreign tourists was only properly introduced into the town in the 1950s, according to the authors, Joan Domènech Moner and Miquel Badia in the book 'Lloret de Mar', its easy transport links with France and the rest of Europe have made it one of the most important tourist destinations of the Costa Brava over the last twenty years. During the month of June alone, the tourist board of Lloret de Mar announced that, respective to June of last year, tourism had increased by 23%.
Unsurprisingly, this has not been widely celebrated. With Lloret de Mar capturing attention for all of the wrong reasons, many are now in agreement that it is the quality of the tourism and not the mere number of tourists which make a successful holiday location for the local industry. Mayor Romà Codina has publicly stated his intention to put a stop to the "tourism binge" which, he fears could hard the revenue that the town generates from family and sports related tourism.
Saving Lloret de Mar
Taking into consideration the criminality that has occurred and the anger of the local people, politicians have been stepping up to offer solutions. The Catalan Minister of the Interior, Felip Puig, has announced that the Catalan Police will act with increasing strength to tourists who do not respect the laws and authorities of Lloret de Mar. The Mayor, Romà Codina, has focused his criticism on the type of night life which is enticing people to the city. He says he wants to put an end to drinks promotions in nightclubs and prevent travel companies from organising tours of the local bars and clubs. He was especially critical of underage drinking in the town. In terms of security, police operations are heightened in intensity and frequency at this time, with checkpoints at the entrance to the city to ensure that no one is entering with illegal materials. There are also plans to introduce more video surveillance in the town.