Tourism Caps Coming to Barcelona
Beautiful beaches, world-class museums, incredible architecture, all-night parties - there are seemingly endless reasons to visit Barcelona. Which results in seemingly endless tourists, especially in the warm summer months. That's something that the city's new mayor is hoping to slow down.
Newly-elected Barcelona mayor Ada Colau has announced she will not issue licenses for new tourist accommodation for an entire year. Meanwhile, the government will be developing a strategy to better deal with Barcelona's surge of visitors.
You'd think that the still-struggling Spanish economy might welcome any source of income. It's true that Barcelona receives a big chunk of change from tourists; about 14% of its economy is due to tourism, according to a 2013 study.
Every year more and more visitors flock to see what this Barna business is all about. It's now the third most-visited city in Europe (after London and Paris).
But popularity sometimes comes at a price, and the city's star status has become an issue for some locals. While sprawling London and Paris stretch out over miles, little Barcelona is home to just 1.6 million residents. Throw in nearly 8 million tourists each year (that's the most recent figure from 2013), and some residents feel like they're getting squeezed out by the visitors.
Others see city traditions, like the flowers stalls on the Ramblas, being pushed out of the way to make space for more souvenir stands. Recently the famous Boqueria market felt forced to ban tour groups of over 15 people from the market at certain hours to give locals a chance to shop.
It's not just the sheer number of visitors though. Last year a surge of anti-tourist protests were sparked partly thanks to some particularly badly-behaved tourists. For example, a photo of three Italian tourists running naked through the old fisherman's quarter of Barceloneta made headlines across the city.
Of course, at Barcelona Life we love that visitors come to see our city. So fingers crossed the powers that be can work out a plan to help mass tourism and the city's daily life co-exist harmoniously. And for visitors, please do remember to keep your clothes on while you're enjoying the city's many charms. (Well, at least in public anyway).