Home Lifestyle UK tourists buying bargains in Spain could be hit with hefty fines

UK tourists buying bargains in Spain could be hit with hefty fines

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Police officers will be on patrol (Picture: Ramon Costa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

If exploring the local shopping scene is your first go-to when holidaying abroad, you’ll know that there’s nothing better than snapping up a bargain or two.

However, tourists looking to do so in the Costa Blanca region of southeastern Spain have been warned that they could be hit with hefty fines.

We’ve all street vendors displaying their products on a blanket, whether that be toys, bags or sunglasses.

Those ‘Prada’ shades might not be quite as they seem, but tourists regularly purchase from the so-called unlicensed ‘manteros’ or ‘top mantas’, as they’re known locally in Spain. (The Spanish word for blanket is ‘manta’.)

While buying counterfeit goods in the UK is not illegal, it is in Spain, and police will now be patrolling the streets. Those caught in the act of buying will be given an immediate fine of €200 – which equates to around £170 and could significantly eat into your holiday budget.

The mayor of Torrevieja, one of the region’s cities, has even called for more police officers over the summer to enforce the rules.

The Spanish region of Costa Blanca is popular with tourists (Picture: Getty Images)

This isn’t just a problem in the Costa Blanca region: it’s seen in various places across Europe, both cities and coastal resorts.

In Costa Blanca specifically, it’s impacting the revenue that local shop owners are able to take, with those in Benalmadena losing between 20 and 30% of profits to unlicensed vendors, according to reports by the Daily Mail.

Elsewhere, one famous beach destination in Italy has also warned tourists that they could be fined, but for a different reason – taking sand home with them.

In an effort to protect its 2,000km-long stretch of coastline, Sardinia announced last month that visitors to its beaches could risk a €3,000 (£2,500) fine if they’re caught taking sand, shingle or pebbles home with them.

No, we’re not talking about the buckets of sand that’ll inevitably find their way into your pockets (and just about everywhere else) after a day on the beach: we’re talking about the people who deliberately swipe it, whether to decorate their gardens or as a holiday souvenir.

The sand theft situation is so severe in Italy that advocacy group Sardegna Rubata e Depredata (Sardinia Robbed and Plundered) estimates that, in 2021, six tonnes of sand went missing from the beach. For perspective, that’s roughly the weight of three cars.

So, if you ever find yourself sunbathing in this region and tempted by the sand (or a pebble or two), maybe think twice.

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