While most cities around the world are keen to have more tourists, Barcelona has had enough of them. Barcelona’s new tourism plan will curb tourism and reclaim the city for its inhabitants.
When it comes to Barcelona, probably the only thing that most Indians know about the city is that its home to ‘FC Barcelona’, the professional football club (although tourists from India to Spain have increased after Dil Dhadakne Do was filmed there).
However, what many don’t know is that the city attracts millions of visitors every year.
Barcelona has a population of 1.6 million, but receives tourists several times over…every year.
Now that the numbers are in front of you, you can anticipate the problems too.
While Tourism accounts for a significant chunk of the city’s economy, the inflow millions of tourists is causing several problems to the local residents in Barcelona.
Here are just a few issues that the city is facing:
- The tourism industry pushes out local stores in the city center to make room for bland bars and tourist-trap shopping.
- Local businesses like dry cleaners and hardware stores are suffering as those catering to tourists are taking over.
- Employment has become seasonal and casual (Spain has unemployment rates over 40% for young people)
- Property prices keep rising, along with rental costs, making it nearly impossible for residents to find affordable housing.
Watch: Why Barcelona wants to curb mass tourism. Investigators hunt for flats who illegally let out flats to tourists, without taking appropriate licenses, and make black market money.
Also Read: Bollywood films shot in Spain.
So in order to manage these issues, the mayor has come up with a new plan.
A tourism plan presented by Mayor Ada Colau lays out several measures, designed to dissuade tourists from entering Barcelona. The proposals include:
- Blocking licenses for new vacation apartments and taxing those that already exist at the highest property tax rate.
- Banning new hotel construction in the city center
- Regulate room rentals at hostels, B&Bs, and other accommodations.
- Increase parking fees for tourist buses.
Other measures are likely to affect local residents as well: There are plans to limit the use of Segways and electric scooters in the more touristic parts of the city (such as seafront), to relocate the terraces of bars and restaurants (which usually take over public spaces).
Although Tourism is be a big money maker (looking at the number of tourists), the measures taken seem suggests that Barcelona is serious about curbing tourism, and wants to create an economy that can benefit a larger section of the local community.
The tourism sector in Barcelona isn’t happy, of course.