Barcelona could die of success: Why a Spanish city is b

Barcelona could die of success: Why a Spanish city is break down on tourism



Barcelona has had its fill of tourists.

After decades of promoting itself as a top tourist destination following the success of the 1992 Olympic Games, Spain's second-biggest city, one of Europe's most popular tourist hubs — is cracking down on visitors.

Two months ago, council approved a ban on all new hostels, hotels, and tourist apartments in the city center.

It awaits to go even further today with the Strategic Tourism Plan, which will manage all aspects of tourism, from working conditions in the sector to the way tourists use public space.

The problem is that the 30 million people who travel Barcelona. The city's left-wing government wants to keep away from the fate of Venice — which many see as a theme park by day, a ghost town by night.


Balancing act

But trying to scale back tourism without immolating its benefits is a tricky balancing act.

The Strategic Tourism Plan to be presented today send back that dilemma. The plan trumpets principles that appeal to everyone, like sustainability, quality. But its concrete measures have raised a storm of dispute.

extent in the pipeline incorporates taxes on tourist apartments by classifying them as businesses rather than residential ownership— to the annoyance of owners, who complain they are unfairly targeted.

Freeze on tourist beds

two months after Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau spearheaded a plan that freezes the number of tourist housing spots at 158,384 and seeks to slowly redistribute them away from the city center.

Hospitality commerce unions and tourist apartment owners are fuming.

Manel Casals, president of the hotel guild, feels the plan unfairly targets his sector.

He feels that legal tourist housing is being punished, while what he think about the real culprit — about 6,000 unlicensed tourist apartments — get away without paying taxes.

In January, she committed to multiplying the number of inspectors who track down illegal rentals, but it's turned out to be an uphill battle.

City priority

Her promise to rein in tourism and center on locals aid her win the 2015 municipal election and these goals remain for her government.

She has lots of support. The Angry resident's debate that mass tourism solemn affects their quality of life.

Barbara Nicolau, who lives in the El Born neighborhood, in just three years, her structure went from having four residential apartments to just her own: the rest are now holiday rentals.

Local shops disappear

A group of children held a banner that read: I want to grow up and also play in the Barceloneta — something that has become more difficult as the old fishermen's neighborhood has become a tourist mecca.

Local shops that have been helping residents for a lifetime have been enforced to make way for pricey, tourist-oriented emporiums, says Agustin Cócola, a Cardiff University geographer studying the effects of tourism in Barcelona.

Nicolau lives on a street where there used to be lots of these family-run shops.

Every year, as the summer months approach, 10 or 12 commences fall and another type of businesses open, these are for tourists, she says.

Although the new strategic plan aims to regulate tourism more tightly, activists doubt it's radical enough to reverse the trend of the past two decades. 

They say strong hotel lobbies have the upper hand, benefiting from tourism at the expense of broader society, which pays for the true cost of tourism.


Share Story

You might also like

We want to hear your thoughts
Join the discussion!

Recommended by us