In an effort to mitigate overtourism, Dubrovnik is considering a move that would mean an effective ban of all new restaurants.

People sitting outside a Dubrovnik restaurant
Most restaurants in Dubrovnik have outdoor seating © Paul Prescott/Shutterstock

The council of the Croatian port will vote in December on a measure prohibiting the installation of any new outdoor chairs and tables in the Old Town for the next five years. This will mean that new restaurants will effectively be unable to open because almost all of the existing restaurants are built into the city walls. This makes indoor seating space extremely limited, so the eateries all rely on having their tables and chairs outside.

An outside terrace in a Dubrovnik restaurant
Most Dubrovnik restaurants rely on having their tables and chairs outside © Vesna Celebic/Lonely Planet

And even at that, the council has already reduced the number of tables and chairs outside restaurants by 20%. The problem for the city is that outdoor seating encroaches on the room pedestrians have for walking through, and Dubrovnik is experiencing an increase in popularity thanks to its starring role in Games of Thrones.

A cruise ship passing behind the waterfront of Dubrovnik
The number of cruise ships that are permitted to dock in Dubrovnik's ports have been limited © Pixelchrome Inc/Getty Images

The council has already taken a number of measures to counteract overtourism, including limiting the number of cruise ships that are permitted to dock in its ports and banning four in five souvenir stalls. The way it will work is that while new restaurants can open if they choose, they will be forced to seat their customers indoors. Even if an existing restaurant closes, other businesses will not be able to take over the space, and the council hopes that this will help address the overcrowding issue.

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