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Mayor of 'doomed village' urges tourists to stop visiting Doel
Doel, part of the municipality of Beveren, is a 700-year-old village across the Schelde River from Antwerp, known for its nuclear power plant, and has been famous for decades as a "doomed village" after the authorities decided to demolish the entire town to expand the port of Antwerp.
In a campaign to save their town, the local authorities encouraged street artists to use the whole village as a canvas for their art and the place became a tourist attraction.
Now the pandemic and the way it has changed tourism has brought too many visitors.
Mayor Marc Van de Vijver is inviting tourists to "go on their way. Due to the large number of tourists, security can simply no longer be guaranteed and the numerous visitors cause inconvenience to the inhabitants of the village."
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, many Belgians have practiced tourism locally, as due to health restrictions, it is very difficult to go abroad. It seems that many of them have set their sights on the village of Doel, especially following a television report about a visit to the village.
"We fully understand that people want to go out," said Van de Vijver. "The weather is ideal for this and during coronavirus, being outdoors is safer than being indoors.
"But every place has a saturation point and Doel has reached it. The Waasland North police district and the municipality are asking everyone to avoid the village. Due to the large number of tourists, security simply cannot be guaranteed and the large number of visitors is causing problems for the village inhabitants. We are also seeing numerous breaches of measures related to the coronavirus, leading to a different kind of insecurity.
"Visitors are of course always welcome in Beveren, but we ask you to respect the tranquility of the inhabitants of Doel and not to approach it."
Police chief Leo Mares added: "Right now our population is faced with an endless stream of visitors. This is why we have decided, in consultation with the mayor, to close the village if there is too much traffic."