Lillo, a tiny village of just 35 permanent inhabitants, used to be one of the most peaceful places in Belgium. But that was before the Pokemon Go phenomenon happened. Today the seven streets that make up the village are packed to the brink with Pokemon trainers looking to catch the many virtual critters that can be found here.
For some reason, Niantic, the the Nintendo subsidiary that created Pokemon Go, decided that the quaint village of Lillo would be a great place to hide a great deal of collectible Pokemon, but it wasn’t long before avid players discovered its hidden treasures, and now the place is teeming with people roaming the streets with their eyes fixed on their handhelds. The old military fort located near the port of Antwerp has become a sort of Mecca for Belgian Pokemon Go players who travel here by the thousands every single day.
The huge influx of visitors has been a godsend for local business owners like Marleen De Deyne, who runs a small cafe. “Usually this place looks deserted, but now, thousands of people pass through here every day, whatever the weather,” she told Belgian newspaper Lesoir. But even though locals initially found the invasion amusing, they’re now struggling to cope with its effects. The streets are crowded all through the day and late into the night, available parking spaces are a rare sight, the quiet that defined Lillo has been replaced by constant noise and, last but not least, there’s a lot of littering.
News of Lillo being THE place to go for Pokemon Go players has been circulating on Belgian social media for weeks, with people posting photos and videos showing the crowds of hunters at work, but now that its transformation from a quiet village to a bustling tourist destination has made international headlines, the flow of Pokemon Go enthusiasts is only expected to increase.