As tourist shops selling chocolate and souvenirs have started expanding to the city's main shopping streets, Bruges' city council wants to ban new such shops from opening in many locations. In this way, the Belgian city wants to safeguard the diversity of its store range.
As the Covid crisis led to stores closing and rent prices dropping, ever more shops targeting tourists have found themselves a place in the city's most important shopping streets. The city council, however, is afraid this may endanger the atmosphere in these streets and is working on a plan to ban new tourist shops in several areas.
The new plan divides the inner city centre in five zones and clearly defines which kind of stores are allowed there, Belgian newspaper De Standaard has learnt. In the main shopping streets, focus has to be on fashion: apart from tourist shops, also food stores, supermarkets, bars and restaurants will be banned - with certain exceptions that do deliver the right experience in the view of the city council, such as brand stores of the likes of Nespresso.
In the neighbouring streets and squares, rules will be a lot more relaxed... but not for tourist shops, which will be banned from the whole tourist centre. Alderman Franky Demon does stress though, that this is only about the opening of new such stores: current stores that have a proper licence will be entitled to stay open. The plan should become legally enforceable in 2022.