Car restriction in Cap de Creus: "For the locals it's great, but for businesses it's a load of rubbish"
Some visitors criticise the price of the shuttle bus and restaurateurs regret that they have not been taken into account
Cadaqués"For the locals it's great, but for businesses it's a load of rubbish. We are a tourist town, whether we like it or not, and if we don't let people come... I don't know what they will live on!" This is how Cisco, a resident of Cadaqués, sums up the new restrictions on access to Cap de Creus by car or motorbike. Since 11 June, you can only enter on foot, by bike or with the shuttle bus, about which there have already been many complaints about the service: the timetables are not clear and it costs 8 euros per adult. The town council admits that there are aspects that need to be improved, such as signposting, but they believe that the measure is essential to preserve the natural park and avoid images like those of last year, with peaks of 1,500 cars parked in every corner of the area.
A few years ago, a ban on cars in the Cap de Creus was considered, but the proposal raised such a stir that it was left in a drawer... Until the coronavirus arrived. After lockdown, natural areas such as the Alt Empordà suffered the massive arrival of visitors, which led the Government to regulate and limit motorised access to natural parks this summer. And although everyone, including opponents, believe that it is important to manage and regulate the number of vehicles, there have been some complaints, such as the shuttle bus service.
"There are no timetables or shade to wait for it, the children are desperate, and we are afraid to go to fetch water and then the bus arrives and we miss it", lamented Griselda. She expressed two of the main criticisms: they say that it runs every 20 minutes, but it is not clear if it is on the way there or back, nor when they start counting; and there is no space protected from the sun at any of the three stops of the shuttle. Now, the biggest discomfort is with the price: 8 euros round trip for adults, and 5 euros for children between 3 and 12 years old. "It is not affordable for most families to have to pay 31 euros for a bus that runs only a few meters. It is incomprehensible that a T-10, with ten trips around Barcelona, costs 11 euros and this bus costs 8 euros", lamented Oliver, who was travelling with his wife and three children.
On the other hand, other visitors like Marta and Laura, from Girona, welcomed the restrictions: "Last year it was horrible, you couldn't get anywhere and it was very dangerous because neither ambulances nor firemen could get through". Marc, who is a cyclist and from Begur, is very happy that you can access on foot or by bike without limitations: "It's a very good way to preserve this spectacular landscape and also to encourage physical exercise".
"It is harming us a lot"
Now, the main victims of the ban are the two restaurants located next to the lighthouse: the Sa Freu and the Cap de Creus. The two managers are in favor of all measures that help to preserve the space, but believe that the method chosen is not ideal: "It's been a year and a half without us hardly working and now the city council is imposing this restriction without taking us into account. It's really hurting us: work has gone down a lot and our tourist season is very short, not even two months".
In addition to the drop in customers, the two establishments have found that the restrictions mean a workload that no one compensates them for. First of all, because they have to write down the license plates of customers who have booked a table with them and then send them to the City Council, to avoid being fined. And, in addition, they have to inform them of the schedules and the price of the bus, because there is no poster or leaflet that specifies them. "Many customers are angry because they did not know they could not come up by car, and others have told us that they will not return, especially older people who came from France", workers lamented in Sa Freu. "For years we have been working hard to make the restaurant for everyone, with dishes for all budgets, but with this measure they want to turn the natural park into an elitist space, like a new Marseille", they add in Cap de Creus.
The mayoress of Cadaqués, Pia Serinyà, admits that there is still some room for improvement but reminds that it is a pilot test and that everything can be discussed. In fact, she makes a very good assessment of the first two weeks of operation: "During the San Juan bank holiday we had almost the same visitors as last year, but the number of cars fell sharply. Therefore, we have met our goal". However, she says that they are working to improve the signage because many people do not see that it is forbidden to go up by car and realise once they are at the top.
The restaurateurs and the City Council will meet this week to try to reach an agreement that allows establishments to take advantage of the tourist season and, at the same time, to preserve and conserve the entire natural area.