Menorca village chains off alleyways to keep out tourists

The Menorcan town has restricted access to its alleys before 11am  (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Menorcan town has restricted access to its alleys before 11am (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A Spanish town has chained off its picturesque streets to deter holidaymakers from visiting in the escalating battle against overtourism on the Balearic Islands.

The 195 homeowners in Menorcan village Binibeca Vell have put up ropes and chains with keep-out imagery to stop a parade of tourists from crossing the line into private properties.

This month, tourists were asked to only stop off in Binibeca between the hours of 11am and 8pm to reduce noise and respect residents.

The whitewashed walls and cobbled streets of the town known as ‘Spanish Mykonos’ were developed in 1964 in the image of the Greek islands.

Messages on the Binibeca Vell Community Owners website warn tourists “we are a private property” with designated visiting hours in the interior streets, and to “visit us in silence”.

The area in southern Menorca is a private property condominium organised as a Community of Owners with €25,000 (£21,286) a year given to the residents’ association by the local authorities for upkeep of the white facades and to remove rubbish.

For this deal to be renewed, the residents’ association is asking for more financial support to sustainably manage the area.

Previously, locals have had problems with tourists climbing up stairs and balconies, blocking doorways and littering as they search for the best selfie spot.

In August, the 500 permanent residents are due to vote on whether to ban tourists from Binibeca Vell altogether – an estimated 800,000 holidaymakers visit the Spanish village annually.

For now, locals are calling for the Menorcan authorities to do more to regulate high visitor numbers.

Oscar Monge, president of the residents’ association, said: “Binibeca is promoted by the administration and tourism companies, but what benefit do we get out of it?

“We pay dearly for being the most potent tourist attraction in Menorca.”

Mr Monge added: “It’s outrageous that the politicians who run local tourism are telling us that the only alternatives we have to keep the place clean are to close it, privatise it or start charging.”

The concern surrounding excessive tourist footfall comes amid a string of protests on Spanish islands, including Tenerife and Mallorca.

On Saturday, thousands of furious locals blocked streets in Palma de Mallorca as fury over mass tourism intensified on the most popular Balearic Islands.