Radio 2

Bruges bans new tourist shops

Tourist magnet Bruges is taking drastic action to protect its appearance.  In the city centre no new shops selling souvenirs, chocolates or beer for tourists will be permitted to open.  The city authorities want to make sure that shopping in Bruges is ‘fun and surprising’ and are seeking greater diversity in the city’s commercial offerings.  The city is highly reliant on the tourist trade and has been hit hard by the economic impact of the pandemic.

The Bruges city authorities want to ensure a diverse selection of stores that includes more than shops targeting the tourist trade. Under a new shopping plan the West Flemish capital is divided up into five zones, where different rules apply about what is and what isn’t permitted. 

New stores targeting the tourist trade will not be permitted.  “More and more stores targeting tourists are opening.  Since the corona crisis they have even appeared in the main shopping streets.  We can’t permit it” says alderman Frank Dermon. “Several premises ended up empty and were turned into tourist shops.  Our shopping plan is geared to creating more diversity: shopping in Bruges must become a voyage of discovery from one shop window to another.”

Fashion is scheduled to dominate in the main shopping arteries.  No new supermarkets, food stores, bars or restaurants will be allowed there.  More will be possible in side streets.  Bars and restaurants will be encouraged on squares.  The city authorities intend to put their new regulations into a bylaw to ensure it can be enforced.

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