Lisbon, like most popular holiday destinations that are also fully functional cities, has a love-hate relationship with the tourists. For the most part, we like the energy visiting foreigners bring to the city. Many businesses, from restaurants to art galleries, welcome the money. Hell, tourism rescued the Portuguese economy, and the government wants even more of it.
But of course it’s not so simple.
There’s a lot not to like even if you’re tolerant. Most Lisboetas welcomed the tuk-tuks when they first arrived in 2012 or so, but when they found out that the humble Southeast Asian cart costs four times more to hire than a German-made taxi, they started looking at tuk-tuks differently. Everyone likes tram no. 28, but most locals haven’t been able to board the thing in years because it’s always packed.
We don’t know why you pay money to go up an old elevator, and that’s your choice, but getting out of the way of people getting to work seems obvious. Bachelor parties peeing en mass in public, loud chanting and profanity, destruction of historic landmarks — the list goes on. You can explain it away with clichés like boys will be boys, or what happens in Lisbon stays in Lisbon, but some people are tired of sweeping their concerns under the rug.
Lisbon Does Not Love is an online campaign made up of locals who have just about had it. Instead of bitching and moaning, they’re doing something about it, and it just might work. Our contact at the organization, Paul, tells us all about it.
What is “Lisbon Does Not Love” and who is it made up of?
LDNL was born out of the realization that most of the inhabitants of the old districts are appalled by the excesses of mass tourism but unable to be heard (they are mostly old people without support). A group of younger people, living in those districts (mostly Alfama and Mouraria), sensitive to their arguments, and internet-skilled, developed a website a year and a half ago so as to throw more light on the phenomenon.
How are you getting your message out?
Through internet (social networks and forums), our website, media (radio/tv interviews, newspaper articles, etc.), a few partners, and posters in the streets (we are waiting to print new ones). We mostly hope to raise awareness among the tourists themselves, which is why we translated the website into various languages.
Have you seen changes since you began the group?
It’s impossible to measure whether the creation of LDNL changed anything in the behavior of tourists, they are so numerous. Overall, what we see and feel is the growing discontent of the Lisboetas, and we are happy to advertise it as it has to be known by the tourists.
What are your recommendations for responsible tourism?
The whole industry has to be strongly regulated. In regards to advice for the tourists, everything is written on the website!
(LDNL’s website carries stickers available for PDF download that highlight the organization’s main turn-offs: gas-powered tuk-tuks, cruise ships, large tour groups, go-cars, Segways, “tourist dedicated structures” such as those that promote Fado nights and blatant rudeness — think nudity, for example.)
In terms of our pet peeves, there isn’t one in particular: overall, we can’t stand the ultra-liberalism of the CML, that is, the lack of regulation that should prevent all the excesses of mass tourism.
What can we (the readers) do to help? How can we get involved?
Readers already send us articles, photos, videos. If you know a native English-speaker, we’ve got a few lines we need help translating. Apart from that, anyone can always suggest more ideas to touch the tourists.
Whether you live in Lisbon or you’re just visiting, responsible tourism is something we should all pay attention to. A good rule of thumb, according to LDNL is, “Be respectful and act with dignity just as you would do at home.” Or at least pretend!
Want to help?
Follow LDNL on facebook and send over your ideas.