New ordinances enacted in cities that are popular tourist attractions target what locals describe as misconduct and inappropriate traveler clothing.
The rules are fueling renewed debate among industry professionals about responsible tourism and what it means to be a “good tourist”.
Wearing bikinis and shirtless may be fine when sunbathing on the beach, but it’s taboo when walking the streets of Sorrento, Italy, and could cost offenders.
Mayor Massimo Coppola signed an ordinance on July 6 banning people from appearing in public shirtless or in revealing swimwear, with fines of up to 500 euros.
“No more lewd behavior,” Coppola said in a Facebook post about the regulation. “Sorrento is increasingly recognized in the world as the capital of tourism and quality hospitality, and this behavior can cause some uneasiness for Sorrento and for residents and tourists alike.”
In Spain, “anti-social” tourist behavior is of paramount concern to business owners and residents of the popular party town of Playa de Palma, where the hospitality industry has taken matters into its own hands.
Eleven restaurants imposed a dress code in June, prohibiting customers from wearing football shirts or going shirtless. Palma Beach, an association of hotels and restaurants on Playa de Palma, has been vocal about the openly drunk behavior of tourists.
The Balearic Islands government issued a decree in 2020 that bans “tourism of excesses”, disorderly behavior by tourists such as taking drinks outside of hotels and “balconying” – jumping into pools from balconies or climbing from a balcony to next – prohibited.
Adding to that, two years of the pandemic meant that popular tourist destinations, which are normally overrun by tourists, didn’t have to deal with the usual problems that come with their presence. Now that the tourists have returned in full force, their behavior and appearance are more conspicuous.
Operators weigh in
While the new rules are aimed at individual tourists who rarely take part in organized tours, companies offering tours in these areas agree that the way one dresses and behaves is part of responsible tourism.
“When traveling to another destination, whether domestic or international, it’s important to ensure we respect those who call the destination home,” said Melissa DaSilva, President of TTC Tour Brands.
Jeff Roy, Collette’s Executive Vice President, said, “When we’re traveling to design a new tour or to evaluate our existing product line, we always consider whether the travel experience we’re offering is responsible.”
Intrepid Travel, a longtime advocate for sustainable tourism, even has a page on its website offering tips on how to travel – and dress – responsibly.
“These places existed long before tourism was a major factor, and how they perceive visitors’ interaction with locals will be the determining factor in whether or not they continue to welcome travelers,” said Matt Berna, President of Intrepid Travel North America. “For many smaller destinations, money is not everything.”