Spanish Town Disappears from Map Apps to Combat Over-Tourism

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.17 - 2024 10:30 AM CET

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Residents of a town in Spain are celebrating a move to wipe themselves off the map because of an influx of foreigners.

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To combat overtourism, the small town of La Salut near Barcelona has successfully had a crucial bus route removed from digital map services. This initiative aims to alleviate the pressure excessive tourism has placed on local transportation and the community's daily life.

Local Residents Reclaim Their Space

La Salut, a town that draws crowds mainly to visit the enchanting Park Guell, designed by Antoni Gaudí, has seen its residents struggle with overcrowding for years.

The local bus, particularly the No116 route, which operated with only 20-seater minibuses, became notoriously difficult for residents to access due to the influx of nearly nine million visitors each year.

Local resident César Sánchez, who has advocated for the town's digital removal for eight years, expressed his relief to LBC: “The next thing we need to do is to get the whole of Park Güell removed from Google Maps.”

Another resident, Luz López, 75, highlighted the extent of the issue: “Before, the bus was so full even people with walking sticks couldn’t get on.”

After the city council's intervention, Google complied by removing the bus route from its services. A Google spokesperson stated that they would not typically remove a bus route unless specifically requested by a local authority.

Wider Anti-Tourist Sentiments in Spain

This action in La Salut is part of a broader trend across Spain where localities are taking measures to limit the impacts of tourism.

Recently, a new rule was introduced requiring tourists to prove they possess at least £97 in disposable cash for each day of their visit to Spain, affecting popular destinations like the Canary and Balearic Islands. This has sparked outrage among British tourists, some of whom are calling for a boycott.

“If the country would stand together and boycott Spain in favor of other Mediterranean countries, within three months they would be begging us to come back,” one disgruntled tourist suggested.

"17 million visitors is a lot of money to the Spanish economy."

"Another Mediterranean country tried to move away from tourism. They forgot how much tourism contributed to the economy," a second tourist added.

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