Government and Barcelona council consider capping daily cruise ships in city port

Mayor Ada Colau proposes setting limit of three vessels per day, as Catalan cabinet considering options

Aida Nova cruise in Barcelona port on January 20, 2022 (by Port de Barcelona via ACN)
Aida Nova cruise in Barcelona port on January 20, 2022 (by Port de Barcelona via ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 2, 2022 07:16 PM

The Catalan government and the Barcelona city council agreed on Thursday to study new regulation for cruise ships and their touristic and environmental impact. The decision was made during a joint committee between both administrations that will, in the future, also include Port authorities and Spanish government officials.

The proposal to regulate the vessels comes after Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau requested similar legislation to the one in place in the Balearic Islands. Colau had sent letters to Catalan president Pere Aragonès, director of the Port Damià Calvet, and Spanish transports minister Raquel Sánchez, explaining the proposal.

She urged to limit the number of cruises to three boats per day in the port of Barcelona. Future meetings will tackle this request and look for ways to reduce the environmental impact and mass tourism from cruises.

"Tourism is a positive thing for the city and the country but mass tourism creates problems and an imbalance," Ada Colau said during a press conference after the meeting. 

On a similar note, the Catalan presidency minister, Laura Vilagrà, said that the government understands the situation. 

"We share the problem and the worries from those effects produced by cruises in Barcelona," she said. "It is obvious that tourism generates positive but also negative effects on the city," Vilagrà added.

However, the minister did not talk about regulating or limiting the number of vessels as it cannot be "no to everything" but neither an "unsustainable" growth.

Tourism, as the local government claims, generates problems for residents and especially those living in the Ciutat Vella neighborhood, one of the most centric areas in the Catalan capital. 

One of the most problematic activities is cruises as they have "a low economic impact return," as around 40% of travelers spend only around four hours in Barcelona.

Despite the agreement reached on Thursday, the working table does not have any date set yet, but Colau hopes it happens as soon as possible. 

Forbidding bici-taxis

This will be the first time the negotiation team meets since June 2021. Some of the other topics they will discuss include public transport and Barcelona’s problematic situation with the ‘bici-taxis’, a small illegal carriage made of a tricycle with a big seat for two people driving around the city.

"We want to celebrate that the Catalan government has greenlighted to create the committee to forbid the ‘bici-taxis’ in Barcelona," Jaume Collboni, deputy mayor, said during the same press conference. 

"It will allow us to forbid this activity in a reasonable time as it has nothing to relate with the touristic quality model we are looking for," he added.

Until the prohibition is not in force, the city council will create a decree to restrict the mobility of these vehicles in some areas. Police patrols will also be increased to control the illegal business.