Bruges, the beautiful canal city, is in the midst of tourist “control” following fears from authorities its sheer popularity will leave it “a complete Disneyland”. Worries of the tourist saturation, amid the comparison to the enchanting cartoon character resort, will see restrictions on both footfall and cruise ship moorings. Up to 1.8 million British nationals visit Belgium every year, with Bruges particularly accessible courtesy of the Eurostar link from London to Brussels, followed by a change to Bruges itself. The stark warning over the UNESCO World Heritage Site came from Dirk De Fauw, the elected mayor of Bruges since 2018.
As reported in Local newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad, he said: “We have to control the influx more if we don’t want it to become a complete Disneyland here.”
He added: “We have to aim for quality tourism, people who stay here for a few days, eat well, visit museums.”
On the ground, this will mean significant changes, many of which will impact Britons.
Cruise ships, which dock at Zeebrugge port, can accommodate five vessels at a time, yet now this will be limited to one or two per day.
Firms may also be forced to switch up their sailing schedules so they moor in the week, as opposed to weekends, to spread out the crowds.
Meanwhile the number of day trippers from nearby Paris and Brussels is hoped to be contained by the cull of local advertising campaigns.
The thought behind this in particular, is day trippers do not require hotel stays, meaning local businesses lose out.
The Flemish capital is popular all-year round with tourists, many of whom come to visit its 470 castles and for strolls along the canal.
The region is also famous for its lace products as well as chocolate.
Markets at Christmas time add enchanting festive sparkle, while summer offers the chance for romantic boat rides on the waterways.
Additionally, in similar cruise ship fears, Express.co.uk recently reported how Venice residents had called for ship controls in the stunning canal town.
It came after a vessel plunged into a tow boat before crashing into its mooring, leaving passengers injured.
Afterwards, the Cruise Lines International Association told Express.co.uk: “CLIA cruise lines welcome the statements by the Mayor of Venice demanding an urgent solution that would allow cruise vessels to enter Venice cruise terminal via an alternative route to the Giudecca Canal.
“CLIA Cruise Lines recognise his views are supported by many locally in the region, and in national government.
“The member lines of CLIA have been actively engaged in discussion about using the Vittoria Emmanuelle Canal as a solution for a considerable time, and have been cooperative in simulations and studies that resulted in the Comitatone recommendation.
“CLIA urges all parties in Venice to reach a conclusion to start the preparation work to dredge the Vittoria Emmanuelle Canal to begin to reroute larger ships.
Adam Goldstein, chairman of Cruise Lines International Association, added: “The cruise industry has worked diligently with the Mayor of Venice, the Veneto Region, the Port Authority and many others, to find viable solutions to allow larger cruise ships to access the Marittima berths without transiting the Giudecca Canal.
“We are in agreement with the solution developed by Comitatone in 2018 to utilise the Vittorio Emanuele Canal as the best and most prudent means to move larger cruise ships away from the Giudecca. CLIA cruise lines welcome and will support the urgent implementation of this solution.”