Tourism is an important source of income for any country to support the local economy, but it comes with inconvenience for the local population. Although a tourist might not mind spending some money for a certain period of time until he returns to his country, the high prices remain throughout the year, which make the people of the city suffer. This issue has become a matter of concern in places like Italy and Spain. These two countries are known for being preferred destinations for people around the globe, including the Arab world.
Some countries are trying to attract more tourists to benefit their economy, which is acceptable, but several European cities have recently been looking for a suitable way to control the number of visitors while making good profits. According to the French Le Pen newspaper, Venice in Italy is preparing a draft law to impose a levy on every tourist entering the city during the peak tourist season. The idea was introduced into the Italian finance law in December at the request of the city’s mayor Ligi Brugnaro.
This proposal came after claims of residents that their lives are “no longer bearable” due to tourists’ noise, property rentals, commodity prices and neighborhood hygiene, while they used to enjoy a quiet life in the past. Of course, imposing a fee on visitors in Venice will play an important economic role and generate between 40 and 50 million euros a year, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which said this money will contribute to cleaning the city that is visited by one million people every year.
The residents of the Italian city are not the only ones being harassed. In Spain too, there have been some angry voices in Barcelona amid calls for restrictions on the construction of new tourist facilities due to high rent values. Angry Spaniards say that the influx of tourists has inflamed prices in the city center, so many people are moving to the suburbs to rent houses at affordable prices.
Park Guell in Barcelona has imposed a fee on visitors, and the current system allows only a certain number of visitors to enter the famous touristic site. I think they are right, because in 1984, Park Guell was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s really worth visiting.
I like to go to Dubai several times a year, but I find the prices are too high. I wonder how people can afford to live with the high prices there, but I know from some that despite what they spend, they enjoy a good lifestyle and various entertainments. They don’t object to spending large amounts of money for a good meal and a fun time.
I think that people today have many pressures in life, so paying some money for entertainment is not difficult, especially for Arabs, because they are paying for their own amusement. But I think it is necessary to define policies to deal with the high prices that affect people living there throughout the year.
We in Kuwait do not rely on tourism, and most visitors are from the region. Prices at hotels and restaurants are still high however for the average income. I believe that the United Nations organizations concerned with tourism should take this issue seriously and ensure that the high touristic prices benefit the population and not only the country’s economy, through policies and decisions that take into account the conditions of residents.
By Muna Al-Fuzai