Home Entertainment Furious residents of picture-perfect Menorcan village dubbed the ‘Spanish Mykonos’ have denied...

Furious residents of picture-perfect Menorcan village dubbed the ‘Spanish Mykonos’ have denied declaring ‘war’ on tourists by chaining up their streets at night in latest battle with Brit holidaymakers

16
0


The residents of a Menorcan village dubbed the ‘Spanish Mykonos’ have denied declaring ‘war’ on tourists by chaining up their streets at night – as British holidaymakers said the ‘anti-tourist’ measures made them feel unwelcome and would make them think twice about visiting the Balearics again.

Since May 1, locals in a picture-perfect fishing village nestled in southern Menorca, in the Balearic islands, have said they do not want any visitors before 11am or after 8pm in a bid to stop selfie-hunting tourists trampling through their private properties.

Outside these hours, residents chain off the 22 entrances to their private community, which is iconic for its narrow cobbled alleys meandering through its whitewashed houses.

Locals insist tourists who visit the village do so in silence – as seen on the many signs dotted throughout the pretty enclave.

There are even chains to stop tourists sitting on certain walls and signs in the flower beds ordering visitors not to touch.

The residents of a Menorcan village dubbed the 'Spanish Mykonos' have denied declaring 'war' on tourists by chaining up their streets at night. A caretaker fixing the chains across the lanes

The residents of a Menorcan village dubbed the ‘Spanish Mykonos’ have denied declaring ‘war’ on tourists by chaining up their streets at night. A caretaker fixing the chains across the lanes

A hoard of tourists are pictured crowding a small alley in the village to take photos in front of the quaint white stone houses

A hoard of tourists are pictured crowding a small alley in the village to take photos in front of the quaint white stone houses

Tourists Fred and Hannah Preddle with their son George by a restricted lane

Tourists Fred and Hannah Preddle with their son George by a restricted lane

Jhonathan and Jessica with sons Samual and Jonathan by a chain installed in the village

Jhonathan and Jessica with sons Samual and Jonathan by a chain installed in the village

British holidaymakers said the 'anti-tourist' measures made them feel unwelcome and would make them think twice about visiting the Balearics again

British holidaymakers said the ‘anti-tourist’ measures made them feel unwelcome and would make them think twice about visiting the Balearics again

Since May 1, locals in the picture-perfect fishing village nestled in southern Menorca have said they do not want any visitors before 11am or after 8pm

Since May 1, locals in the picture-perfect fishing village nestled in southern Menorca have said they do not want any visitors before 11am or after 8pm

Signs tell visitors to be quiet and only visit in certain hours

Signs tell visitors to be quiet and only visit in certain hours

Local resident Maita, 63, who splits her time between the village and Barcelona, told MailOnline how big groups of noisy tourists have caused chaos in the village

Local resident Maita, 63, who splits her time between the village and Barcelona, told MailOnline how big groups of noisy tourists have caused chaos in the village

Pictured is the village of Binibeca Vell, dubbed the 'Spanish Mykonos'

Pictured is the village of Binibeca Vell, dubbed the ‘Spanish Mykonos’

Residents have long complained how hordes of rowdy tourists overrun the village during the summer season and ruin their peace and privacy in search of an Instagram-worthy holiday snap.

On the village website, fed-up locals have taken to sharing photographs of tourists disrespecting their private homes, with one shown splayed out on a stairwell and another having scaled a balcony.

Online, visitors are urged to ‘avoid uncivic attitudes’ by refraining from ‘entering the houses or climbing stairs or balconies’ and to help keep the village clean by ‘using the bins and keeping the walls white’.

In August, its 195 homeowners are set to vote on whether to continue the same regime or completely ban all tourists from the village, which is visited by around 800,000 holidaymakers a year.

But worried business owners warn a total ban would be disastrous for them as they rely heavily on the trade from tourists visiting the village.

Oscar Monge, President of the Community of Property Owners in Binibeca Vell, has insisted tourists are welcome in the village and the new rules are not designed to wreck anyone’s livelihood.

Residents have long complained how hordes of rowdy tourists overrun the village

Residents have long complained how hordes of rowdy tourists overrun the village

In August, its 195 homeowners are set to vote on whether to continue the same regime or completely ban all tourists from the village, which is visited by 800,000 holidaymakers a year

In August, its 195 homeowners are set to vote on whether to continue the same regime or completely ban all tourists from the village, which is visited by 800,000 holidaymakers a year

A young woman poses for a photograph on private property in the village

A young woman poses for a photograph on private property in the village

Pictured is a broken restriction chain across a path in the village

Pictured is a broken restriction chain across a path in the village

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, he said most villagers backed the new rules as a ‘question of common sense’.

He claimed that last year there was a municipal deal in place that allowed tourists into Binibeca Vell from midday to 9pm but accused the island council of scuppering it by failing to properly regulate the bus loads of tourists arriving in the village and withdrawing a €15,000 subsidy to help clean up rubbish left by holidaymakers .

Mr Monge added: ‘I think the measures are having the desired effects as far as homeowners here are concerned with regards to the amount of people during the hours of rest.

‘The regulation of the tourist coaches is improving and there seems to be a better understanding of the situation among tour operators who operate them.

‘We are really happy that tourists come to Binibeca Vell.

‘But it’s not normal that the island council is charging [up to €4 per person for tourist tax] and doesn’t want to help an iconic tourist destination like our village, where five of the photos you see from Menorca are from here and then takes away the €15,000 grant we were getting to pay a private company to remove visitors’ rubbish.

‘Things reach a stage where people say ‘enough is enough’ and that’s what’s happened.

‘Tourists are welcome during the permitted timetable, they can visit Binibeca Vell free of charge and outside of that timetable they can visit the restaurants which are all outside the area that’s chained off after 8pm.

‘We don’t get any help to keep our community looking the way it is.

‘It costs us around €100,000 a year to keep the houses as white as they are because the facades get blackened with people putting their hands on the walls.

‘If we weren’t getting 800,000 visitors a year, we’d probably have to paint only every two or possibly every three years.

Visitors are urged to 'avoid uncivic attitudes' by refraining from 'entering the houses or climbing stairs or balconies' and to help keep the village clean by 'using the bins and keeping the walls white'

Visitors are urged to ‘avoid uncivic attitudes’ by refraining from ‘entering the houses or climbing stairs or balconies’ and to help keep the village clean by ‘using the bins and keeping the walls white’

A woman sits on a bench beneath a sign on the wall asking for silence

A woman sits on a bench beneath a sign on the wall asking for silence

Worried business owners warn a total ban would be disastrous for them as they rely heavily on the trade from tourists visiting the village

Worried business owners warn a total ban would be disastrous for them as they rely heavily on the trade from tourists visiting the village

Local woman Maita told MailOnline 'the streets are very close together and we like the silence'

Local woman Maita told MailOnline ‘the streets are very close together and we like the silence’

‘If we’re not getting any help from anyone, the homeowners eventually put their hands up and say what benefits are we receiving?’

When MailOnline visited the village this week, small groups of tourists arrived in the village ahead of the 11am opening time before a worker was seen removing the chains off the streets shortly after 11.15am.

It was not long before a group of tourists was seen posing for photographs on the steps of a private home while its occupants were trying to enjoy a quiet breakfast on their balcony.

Elsewhere, a young man was seen perching on the steps of a home as his female companion posed for the camera.

At the entrance to Binibeca Vell, a sign showing a map of the village and the previous visiting hours appeared to have been defaced, but it was unclear why or by whom.

Resident Maita, 63, who splits her time between the village and Barcelona, told MailOnline how big groups of noisy tourists have caused chaos in the village and disrespected locals’ homes.

She said: ‘The town is very small, the streets are very close together and we really like the silence.

‘If a few people come, there is no problem because the people are very respectful.

‘But when there are many people there is a lot of noise, a lot of dirt, and they don’t respect our houses.

‘They sit at our tables…and it bothers them that you kick them out.

‘Last week, there was a couple sitting here [at my table] and I came down from upstairs and said ‘hey, what are you doing?’

‘But nothing happens afterwards.’

British holidaymakers greeted the measures with a mixture of understanding and indignation

British holidaymakers greeted the measures with a mixture of understanding and indignation

Pictured are visitors exploring restricted lanes in the village

Pictured are visitors exploring restricted lanes in the village

Tourists flock to the beautiful village for the views, landscape and buildings

Tourists flock to the beautiful village for the views, landscape and buildings

Pictured is a defaced sign indicating restricted access to the lanes

Pictured is a defaced sign indicating restricted access to the lanes

Some told Mailonline the new measures did not make them feel very welcome in the village

Some told Mailonline the new measures did not make them feel very welcome in the village

And British holidaymakers greeted the new measures with a mixture of understanding and indignation.

Married couple Hannah and Fred Priddle, both 45, from East Surrey, who were visiting Menorca for the first time, with their son, George, 7, said they understood the need for the new visiting rules but that there needed to be a balance between ‘tolerance’ for tourists and respect for locals’ peace and quiet.

Mr Priddle, who works in logistics, told MailOnline the situation was a ‘double-edged sword’, adding: ‘It’s understandable, but the problem is this village was built as a replica of a fishing village, as a tourist attraction, so now it’s kind of turning against the tourists a bit.

‘It’s understandable because people who have moved in over the years and made it their home, they want a bit of peace and quiet.’

‘But I think the natural reaction is, ‘Well, it’s a tourist attraction, share it’.

‘It [the restrictions] doesn’t make me feel welcome, but you have to see it from their [the residents’] perspective as well.’

He said they had researched the new rules before visiting but that tour operators should warn holidaymakers about them ahead of time ‘so people are aware of it before they come out and it sets their expectations’ to avoid any disappointment.

The couple said they took a land train, costing roughly €4.00-a-head, from their nearby hotel to Binibeca Vell, but said there was little to no information about the village and the new rules.

‘Quite a few people got off the same train as us and said ‘what do we do’ when it all seemed quite blocked off,’ Mrs Priddle, who works in design, added.

She said the behaviour of selfie-hunting tourists was ‘not respectful’ to homeowners but called for clarity over whether tourists are welcome: ‘Do they want tourists or not? Don’t put on buses and day trips here if they don’t want people to visit.’

Asked if more tourist restrictions in the Balearics would put them off visiting, most said yes

Asked if more tourist restrictions in the Balearics would put them off visiting, most said yes

The village's business owners were reluctant to speak out publicly about their views on the new rules for fear of upsetting the 'sensitive' situation with residents

The village’s business owners were reluctant to speak out publicly about their views on the new rules for fear of upsetting the ‘sensitive’ situation with residents

Twins Tom and Joe Harvey, 17, were visiting the village for the second time with mother Lisa, 54, and grandmother, Carol, 76, and said they were 'sad' to see the chained-up streets

Twins Tom and Joe Harvey, 17, were visiting the village for the second time with mother Lisa, 54, and grandmother, Carol, 76, and said they were ‘sad’ to see the chained-up streets 

One shop owner, who declined to be identified, warned her business faced total ruin if the village banned tourists completely. Pictured, are visitors exploring the streets

One shop owner, who declined to be identified, warned her business faced total ruin if the village banned tourists completely. Pictured, are visitors exploring the streets

Twins Tom and Joe Harvey, 17, from Oxford were visiting the idyllic village for the second time with their mother Lisa, 54, and grandmother, Carol, 76, and said they were ‘sad’ to see the chained-up streets.

The youngsters told MailOnline the new measures did not make them feel very welcome in the village, adding: ‘It’s just a bit sad really, as you kind of want to have a look around because the Old Town is so beautiful, and see how they all live.’

Asked if more tourist restrictions in the Balearics would put them off visiting, they said: ‘Yes, it does as it means you can’t really have the full experience because you can’t actually access everything, or you can’t see what you’re hoping to see, so it really kind of restricts what you can do, see and learn on your holiday.’

The teenagers said they were sympathetic to the residents’ plight, adding: ‘…But if we’re just coming over and taking over the town a bit, you can see why they want to keep it as traditional as they can without trying to annoy us too much or stopping us from doing things.’

They accepted British tourists ‘have a bit of a reputation for drinking ourselves under the table, so I can see why, at night, they would want to keep people away from there, cause I can see how you could have a few pints and get drawn into going all in there and all about.’

Spanish couple Jhonathan, 37, and wife Jessica, 35 were visiting Binibeca with sons Samuel, three and Jonathan, five.

Jhonathan told MailOnline: ‘It seems like a very nice town to me, and I understand that some people have no respect for the people who live here, so they have taken these measures recently.’

But the village’s business owners were reluctant to speak out publicly about their views on the new rules for fear of upsetting the ‘sensitive’ situation with residents.

One shop owner, who declined to be identified, warned her business faced total ruin if the village banned tourists completely.

She told MailOnline: ‘People come here to see the village, if they cannot see village, they will not come here, I mean, it would be our death for sure.

‘But I actually think it’s worse for restaurants. People come here during the day, they buy something here, but when they visit the town, they visit until 9, and then they go to have dinner, so if they cannot visit until 9, what do the restaurants do.’

Maita said she even found tourists sitting at the table outside of her home

Maita said she even found tourists sitting at the table outside of her home 

The aim of chaining up the streets was to stop masses of tourists flooding into residents' private homes outside the new visiting hours, locals say

The aim of chaining up the streets was to stop masses of tourists flooding into residents’ private homes outside the new visiting hours, locals say

Tourists crowd into the narrow streets to take photographs for social media

Tourists crowd into the narrow streets to take photographs for social media

She added: ‘On the one hand, we understand them [the new rules], we have known these families for years, they are good friends of ours.

‘Here, during the months of June, July and August, it’s awful. There are so many tourists.

‘They are so impolite, they get inside the peoples’ houses to make pictures because they are so ‘cute’.

‘It’s obvious they had to take measures, we understand it, but at the same time, we hope they don’t close permanently because it would be a disaster for us.’

A restaurant worker, who did not want to be named, warned the restrictions ‘will affect us a lot’.

She added: ‘The people who used to come late in the evening will stop coming.

‘If people are banned from the main attraction [the village] people will not come here.’

Mr Monge said as restaurants sit outside ‘what would be called the village’ in a public street, tourists would still be able to access restaurants while the private community is closed.

‘We have no intention of ruining anyone’s livelihood,’ he insisted.

The 51-year-old, who has restaurants in Menorca and in Catalunya on the Spanish mainland is involved in real estate said the village will resist calls from the authorities to start charging tourists to visit.

He added: ‘It’s impossible. We have 22 entrances. What are we going to do? Police 22 entrances?

‘And it’s not our objective. The homeowners here don’t want to do that.’

Mr Monge called on the island council to do more to control the number of tourist buses arriving at certain times to ‘reduce tourist overcrowding’ and ensure guides ‘know they’re bringing holidaymakers into a private residential area and know those visits should take place in silence or with the least amount of noise possible’.

One of the signs in the village pleading with visitors to be quiet

One of the signs in the village pleading with visitors to be quiet

A group of tourists stop to take photographs in front of a private property sign

A group of tourists stop to take photographs in front of a private property sign

Chains have been introduced across pathways to stop visitors intruding in private spaces

Chains have been introduced across pathways to stop visitors intruding in private spaces

‘I don’t think we’re asking for that much,’ he said.

On the issue of tourist overcrowding in Menorca and protests of the sort that have occurred in Majorca and Ibiza, he said: ‘In an island where 90 per cent of people live from tourism, do you think we can enjoy that sort of luxury!! It’s absurd.’Menorca, thank God, is not Majorca or Ibiza. Here we have a more family-orientated tourism which is more interested in natural spaces.

‘We don’t have that tourist massification they have in Ibiza and Majorca but politicians are encouraging the protests with their inaction and their failure to address issues like the one we have in Binibeca Vell.’

In a message to British tourists visiting Binibeca Vell, he said: ‘Keep on coming within the permitted timetables, respect our community when you come and enjoy.

‘You will always be welcome.’

Mr Monge insisted the aim of chaining up the streets was to stop masses of tourists flooding into residents’ private homes outside the new visiting hours.

‘What this definitely isn’t though is a war between us and the tourists,’ he added.

Begoña Mercadal, head of tourism for Menorca previously told the El Diario newspaper that residents would be able to close their village to tourists if they wished.

She said: ‘We fully acknowledge that it is private property and, therefore, if they want to close it, that is their right.’

The move in the village comes after major anti-tourist protests elsewhere in the Balearics, with locals pushing back against soaring numbers of holidaymakers and their impact on the housing market.

On Saturday, scores of people attended a protest in the capital of Majorca, Palma, organised by the group Banc de Temps de Sencelles.

Last week, a group under the slogan ‘Més turisme, menys vida’, which translates to ‘More tourism, less life’ said it intended to cause chaos at Palma Airport over the coming weekend.



Source link

Previous articleRevealed: How more than 450 Londoners have been hurt by bus MIRRORS since 2018 – despite capital’s bus fleet shrinking
Next articleUK’s ‘slug invasion’: Pesky slugs and snails are awash in sodden gardens and stripping plants bare after weeks of downpours – as expert reveals how frogs and toads can help

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here