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Barcelona City Council starts to shut down illegal holiday rental flats

Barcelona has become one of the main European tourist destinations and, probably, the hottest low-cost tourism hub. It attracts millions of foreigners each year, many of whom show up in the city mainly for the beach and partying. The Barceloneta neighbourhood is one of several hotspots affected most severly by the tourism boom. It is near the beach and has become the preferred housing spot for holidaymakers. However, some visitors' unruly attitudes on the street – such as urinating, getting fully naked or singing loudly – have become a problem. Several neighbourhood protests against the so-called "drunken tourism" and illegal holiday apartments have been held in the past two weeks in the Barceloneta area. As a response, the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, declared ''war'' on the illegal tourist accommodation and promised to bring an end to the disturbances caused by wild tourism. As a start, the City Council has begun to shut down tourist flats without license.

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28 August 2014 05:57 PM

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ACN / Neringa Sinkeviciute

Barcelona (ACN).- In recent years, the capital of Catalonia has become one of the main European tourist destinations and, probably, the hottest low-cost tourism hub, attracting millions of foreigners, many of whom show up in the city mainly for the beach, booze and crazy parties. The Barceloneta neighbourhood is one of the several hotspots affected most severely by the tourism boom. Located near the beach, it has become the preferred housing spot for innumerable holidaymakers. However, some visitors' unruly attitudes on the street – such as urinating, getting fully naked or singing loudly – have become a problem and have created quarrels with the local community. Several neighbourhood protests against the so-called "drunken tourism" and illegal holiday apartments have been held over the past two weeks in the Barceloneta area. They are being organised by the Barcelona Neighbourhood Association and gathered up to one thousand people each time. As a response, the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, declared ''war'' on the illegal tourist accommodation in Barceloneta and in other spots of the city. He also promised to bring an end to the disturbances caused by wild tourism. On Tuesday evening Trias met with a representative of the Barceloneta neighbours and he pledged to close a high number of illegal flats in Barceloneta, to meet the locals every month, and to ensure that the district Councilwoman would monitor the situation via weekly meetings. By Wednesday, the local police had already issued a closing warrant against 24 illegal flats.


While Barcelona trumpets its record-breaking tourism numbers for 2013 and 2014, with the highest number of international visitors ever and the highest spending ever registered, the Barceloneta neighbourhood is one of several hotspots affected most severely by the tourism boom. The old fishermen's and sailors' quarter has dramatically transformed due to low-cost tourism and has become the preferred housing spot for foreigners, many of whom come with the intention of cheap partying. Airbnb, the world's leading international flat rental site, offers nearly 500 rooms and apartments in the small Barceloneta quarter, up to seven times more than those officially registered at Barcelona's Town Hall for this neighbourhood.  

Neighbours are fed up with people urinating and shouting in the streets

Several nightly protests against the so-called "drunken tourism" and illegal holiday apartments have been held in the past two weeks. Locals claim that the Barceloneta neighbourhood has become a ''nightmare'' due to the increasing number of tourists staying in this district with the intention of  partying wildly and who have little respect for locals. The President of the Barceloneta Neighbourhood Association, Oriol Casabella, told CNA that ''locals are fed up with the day-to-day realities of alcohol-and-drugs-related disorder, such as public drinking, public urination, vomiting in the streets, anti-social behaviour and unbearable noise.''

In addition, residents claim that ''illegal tourist rental apartments pose a threat to affordable housing.'' According to one of the local protesters, María Blanco Blanco, ''the rent prices are gradually increasing in this area due to illegal tourist accommodation'' and many local residents have already been asked to leave their flats as the owners prefer to rent it to tourists who pay much more. ''We want illegal holiday apartments to finally be banned, it would definitely solve the problem,'' stated one of the participants in a protest held last week.

New steps to stamp out booze tourism

In the meeting held on Tuesday evening with local residents, the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, promised to react immediately and close a high number of illegal flats in Barceloneta. The Mayor wants to monitor the evolution of the situation and vowed to meet local residents every month and to hold weekly meetings with the Ciutat Vella district Councillor in order to monitor the situation. The City Council has inspected over 150 properties between Monday and Tuesday and the local police had already issued a closing warrant against 24 illegal flats by Wednesday.

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  • Officers from the Barcelona Local Police and the City Council looking for illegal tourist flats (by ACN)

  • Officers from the Barcelona Local Police and the City Council looking for illegal tourist flats (by ACN)