LISBON (Reuters) – Whispering “Hashish? Cocaine?”, street sellers are offering unsuspecting tourists in Lisbon’s center “drugs” which police say are often bay leaves, flour or ground paracetamol.
Locals in Lisbon’s historic Santa Maria Maior district say the fake drugs phenomenon is getting worse, worrying police and business owners who fear tourists could start to steer clear of the Portuguese capital’s bustling center.
“Everyone on my tours gets asked if they want drugs,” Maarten, a Belgian tour guide working in Lisbon, said. “Some just laugh, but others don’t like it at all.”
Portugal, which has long been popular for its beaches, historic sites and golf courses, has become reliant on tourism in recent years after government and businesses looked to it to drive growth after the 2011-14 debt crisis.
Preliminary figures released at the end of last year showed Portugal welcomed a record of 26 million tourists in 2019, with around a third visiting Lisbon. Data…
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