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No more souvenir shops, says Bruges city councillor
Bruges’s city council and many local merchants are in agreement: something needs to be done about the incoming flow of cheap souvenir shops.
Although the shops are popular with tourists, they offer cheap products, often made in China. The shops are proliferating as Bruges continues to pull in the most tourists in the country – some seven million a year.
One of the greatest concerns is that the shops are selling “Belgian chocolate” that isn’t really Belgian. “They’re selling T-shirts, beer and chocolate, but they’re ruining the market,” one chocolatier told VRT.
Mercedes Van Volcem, Bruges city councillor in charge of urban planning, said that existing shops need not worry, but that she wants to put the brakes on any new souvenir shops because they all sell the same thing. There needs to be “diversity in the shopping available, which lends to a more liveable city for the residents but is also better for the tourists”.
The city council is looking into the matter, which could lead to refusing licenses to more souvenir shops.