Spanish city overrun by predictable tourists who arrive and ‘visit all the same spots’ | World | News by StuffsEarth

Estimated read time 11 min read

One of Spain’s most popular cities has become overrun by tourists who have been slammed for “visiting all the same spots” making them a nightmare to navigate. Barcelona in Catalonia sees about 32 million tourists each year which smothers the 1.6 million who call the city home with the words “tourist go home” scrawled on the walls of some of its most popular locations.

Responsible Travel, an activist travel company which urges tourists to be mindful of their surroundings while on holiday, says overtourism in Barcelona is a “relatively new phenomenon.

It says the 1992 Olympic Games put the city on the map for travellers with tourist numbers increasing rapidly each year leading to Barcelona’s port being named the most polluted in Europe in 2019 due to the high number of cruise ships.

The group said the main issue with tourism in Barcelona was not the numbers but the fact that most of them all turned up at once during the summer months and often visiting for only a day.

Tourism expert Dr Harold Goodwin, in his 2016 paper on managing tourism in the city, described the arrival of visitors as like “a tidal wave” when “there are as many as 35,000 people arriving on foot at the Mirador de Colon, to walk up La Rambla” before getting on ships and moving on.

Responsible Tourism says little money is spent outside of tourist bars and cafes with local residents hardly benefitting from travel to the city.

It said “congestion is unpleasant for both residents and other tourists” but added that the high tourism rate had resulted in an influx of buildings becoming legal and illegal hotels leaving locals with little accommodation of their own.

In 2017, it was reported that there were 125,000 legally registered beds in hotels and tourist apartments and 50,000 illegal beds.

High demand for tourist accommodation, coupled with the opportunity to rent out rooms and apartments via sites such as Airbnb, has caused rents to soar and residents are struggling to afford the increases.

Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau says overtourism is “affecting not only residents’ quality of life but their very ability to live in the area”.

Although tourism brings substantial revenue into the city, currently comprising around 12 percent of Barcelona’s economy, the city has seen “poor redistribution of the wealth generated and poor quality jobs” a 2015 consultation found.

As a result, Catalans have staged a number of protests over the years with signs around the city abusing tourists.

In July 2017, masked protesters attacked a tour bus, slashing the tyres and scrawling the words ‘El Turisme Mata Els Barris’ meaning ‘Tourism Kills Neighbourhoods’ on the windscreen.

Tourist bikes have also had their tyres punctured and the streets and plazas have been filled with placard-heavy marches and rallies.

However many of the protesters see their battle as being with the authorities rather than tourists themselves, blaming them for a lack of regulation.

Measures to curb overtourism in busy areas have now been introduced from segregating tourists and residents to tightly controlling visitor numbers.

The local government is not currently issuing any new licences for tourist accommodation and new regulations have been introduced to reduce the number of short-term private lets, which would effectively prevent these from being used by tourists.

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