BARCELONA, April 30, 2011 (AFP) - Tourists in Barcelona who wander off the beach onto the streets in just their swimming costumes -- or even less -- will now face stiff fines.
The city hall voted on Friday to ban "nudity or virtual nudity in public places" and limit swimming costumes to swimming pools, beaches, adjacent roads and beach walks.
Nudists who stray off their designated areas of the beach will be subject to fines of 300 to 500 euros ($450 to 750).
Those who wander into the streets in bikinis, swimming trunks or swimsuits face fines of 120 to 300 euros.
Authorities in the city, where the port and the beach areas are adjacent to the historic old town, earlier this year put up posters discouraging such behaviour.
They showed a couple in swimming costumes with a red line across it next to another couple dressed normally but without the red line.
With the new regulations, city authorities hope to "ensure coexistence between citizens in public areas," but denied that they are "telling people how they should dress," said the city councillor in charge of security, Assumpta Escarp.
The owners of some tourist shops welcomed the move, but defenders of nudism were outraged.
"It's a ban that goes beyond laws that decriminalised nudity 22 years ago," said Jacit Ribas i Deix, the head of an association for the defence of nudity and who became well known in Barcelona for walking and cycling naked through the city.
But Egidio Pagliotta, 68, a ice-cream salesman, said "there was a lot of permissiveness and (the new regulation) will be better for everyone."
Rajich Monarni, a 38-year-old Indian who sells shirts in the old town, was also pleased.
"They were more and more of them in the streets. I approve of the fact that they can now be booked."
The beaches and cultural attractions of the capital of Spain's northeastern Catalonia region draw millions of foreign visitors each year.