New ordinances passed in cities that are popular tourist spots are targeting what locals say is travelers’ bad behavior and inappropriate dress.
The rules are prompting renewed discussions of responsible tourism among industry professionals and what it means to be a “good tourist.”
Wearing bikinis and going shirtless may be fine when sunbathing at the beach, but it’s a no-no when walking the streets of Sorrento, Italy, and could cost offenders.
Mayor Massimo Coppola signed an ordinance on July 6 prohibiting people from appearing in public bare-chested or in revealing swimwear with fines as high as 500 euros.
“No more indecent behavior,” Coppola said in a Facebook post about the ordinance. “Sorrento is increasingly recognized in the world as the capital of tourism and high-quality hospitality, and these behaviors can cause an element of discomfort for Sorrento and for residents and tourists.”
In Spain, “antisocial” tourist behavior is top of mind for business owners and residents of popular party town Playa de Palma, where the hospitality industry has taken matters into its own hands.
Eleven restaurants imposed a dress code in June banning customers wearing football jerseys or going shirtless. Palma Beach, an association of hotel and restaurants in Playa de Palma, has been vocal about the openly drunken behavior of tourists.
The Balearic Islands government passed a decree in 2020 banning “tourism of excesses,” prohibiting disorderly tourist behavior such as taking drinks outside of hotels, and “balconing” — jumping into pools from balconies or climbing from one balcony to the next.
Adding to the ire is that two years of the pandemic meant that popular destinations typically overrun with tourists did not have to deal with the usual problems associated with their presence. Now that tourists have returned in full force, their behavior and appearance is more noticeable.
Operators weigh in
While the new rules are aimed at individual tourists who are rarely part of organized tours, companies that offer tours in those areas agree that the manner in which one dresses and behaves is part of responsible tourism.
“When traveling to another destination whether domestic or abroad, it’s important to make sure we’re respecting those who call the destination home,” said Melissa DaSilva, president of TTC Tour Brands.
Jeff Roy, executive vice president of Collette, said that “As we’re out on the road designing a new tour or evaluating our existing range of products, we always consider whether the travel experience we offer is a responsible one.”
Intrepid Travel, long an advocate of sustainable tourism, even has a page on its website that offers tips on being a responsible traveler — and dresser.
“These places existed well before tourism was a major factor, and how they perceive visitors interact with the locals is going to be the deciding factor if they will continue welcoming travelers or not,” said Matt Berna, president of Intrepid Travel North America. “For a lot of smaller destinations, money is not everything.”
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