Spain is the next to crack down on people who save spots on beaches

It's not always easy finding a patch of sand on Spain's popular beaches but authorities are getting wise to tourists' tricks. Photo / Getty Images
It's not always easy finding a patch of sand on Spain's popular beaches but authorities are getting wise to tourists' tricks. Photo / Getty Images

A crackdown on sand-hoggers is sweeping across Europe as Spanish authorities follow their Italian counterparts in fining tourists who reserve spots on the beach for their mates.

Earlier this month, authorities in popular Italian beach destinations started issuing fines and confiscating beach chairs and lounges from greedy beachgoers reserving prime spots on the busy coastlines.

Now, authorities in Spain are following suit, fining tourists up to a whopping €720, or $1115, for the same infuriating behaviour.

In what has been dubbed the "Umbrellas Wars" in the local media, beachgoers at a number of Spanish resorts have been using umbrellas, deck chairs and other beach furniture to stake their claim on the beach early in the morning and then disappear for hours.

And it's happening in a growing number of Spanish resorts.

Local authorities are passing new laws as the volume of complaints by locals and tourists rise.

In Gandia, near Valencia, a local councillor told Spanish newspaper El Pais enough was enough.

"We've decided to go one step further and have local police remove these objects, which are turning a public space into a private space in the earliest hours of the morning," councillor José Manuel Prieto said.

A fed-up local, Carlos Peiró, told the newspaper: "I take a walk here every morning, and I see a lot of older people coming and basically setting up fences, all at the very front by the water. And I don't think it's right."

Tourists are reportedly getting in early to reserve spots on Spain's beaches and then disappearing for hours, leaving little space for other beach goers. Photo / Getty Images
Tourists are reportedly getting in early to reserve spots on Spain's beaches and then disappearing for hours, leaving little space for other beach goers. Photo / Getty Images

News of the fines alone has reportedly prompted all the offending umbrellas to disappear from the beach in Gandia, a town that attracts as many as 300,000 sun-seeking tourists in the peak summer months.

Not every part of Spain has welcomed the crackdown, however. In Torrox, on Spain's southern coast, where it costs €30 ($48) to recover a confiscated umbrella, authorities have struggled to gain the public's support.

"The last time we enforced the rule, there were people yelling insults at police from the balconies," local police officer Paolo Escobar told El Pais.

It's been a problem in parts of Italy, too. Photo / Getty Images
It's been a problem in parts of Italy, too. Photo / Getty Images

But Escobar is resolute: "There are people that go to eat around midday and leave their things on the beach, or cool off with a nap in their house and come back around 6pm or 7pm. And we're taking action."

This month, authorities in the Italian port city of Livorno reportedly seized 37 deck chairs, 30 umbrellas, a cot, several towels and even a few cossies - all used to reserve prime sun-soaking spots - over a 100 metre space of beach.

Further south, in Roseta Capo Spulico, more than 200 umbrellas and chairs were removed following complaints.

Italian authorities said the sand-hogging phenomenon was a "widespread malpractice".

- news.com.au

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