Earlier this year Seville announced plans to manage tourist numbers in the charming, winding and often hot and bustling streets of its historic centre using WiFi, optical sensors and mobile phone antennae data to monitor in real time the numbers of passers-by. As well as effectively rationing time in the centre and encouraging tourists to explore attractions beyond it, police could be alerted to disperse crowds as needed.
The latest measure is less high-tech.
Sexist and obscene
Targeting stag and hen parties that descend upon the city bringing large groups of high-spirited young men and women in various states of dress and inebriation, the southern Spanish city’s new mayor, José Luis Sanz, has announced that items of clothing with “sexist elements or messages” or “that may violate the moral or sexual integrity of another person” will be prohibited, as will wearing only underwear in public.
Attire is not the only aspect of the new regulations though. Behaviour matters too, with an emphasis on reducing sexualised harassment and a new veto on “performing or inciting the performance of acts that violate sexual freedom […] or committing acts of obscene exhibitionism.”
Spanish Mayor of #Seville – José Luis Sanz – had enough of drunken Brits with rowdy stag/hen parties.— Mr Pål Christiansen (@TheNorskaPaul) October 4, 2023
The city council plans to ban groups from wearing underwear in public & engaging in ‘obscene acts’ as he declared Seville has ‘no interest whatsoever’ in party tourism.🇪🇸🍊 pic.twitter.com/RvcbpkWYvu
Penalties to pay
With media reporting locals complaining of “disgust” at “shameful” partying by visitors, the goal of the new rules is to “preserve the public space as a place of meeting, coexistence and civility”, Sanz said. He confirmed that failure to comply with the expectations will result in a fine. While no price has been put on the penalties yet, when Malaga brought in a similar policy last year, it applied a €750 fine for wearing underwear in public or carrying an inflatable doll.
Managing tourism’s impact
The move comes amid questions in destinations around the world about overtourism, as well as tourist behaviour and how to achieve the sort of offer that does not negatively impact locals. A recent report by Intrepid notes that “leave no trace” travel is rising in popularity. Ensuring local communities have a voice in and feel the benefits of their hospitality industry, the report suggests, is a vital change the industry must tackle.
Andalusia’s tourist numbers only returned to pre-pandemic levels in mid-2023, but Seville has seen a huge increase in visitors, with a rise of 284 per cent last year compared with 2021. It is the third most popular Spanish city for British tourists after Barcelona and Madrid.
Not an outright ban
Sanz said that the city “has no interest whatsoever” in the kind of tourism that some stag and hen parties bring to Seville, reports The Times. Still, he was at pains to say the city is not banning stag and hen dos altogether.
“Anyone can celebrate their bachelor party in Seville”, he said. “What we don’t view favourably are groups of people dressed as whatever, with brass bands behind them, disturbing the many residents of Seville – especially in areas of the historic centre – who also have the right to enjoy their city.”