Barcelona to protest against effects of tourism set for May 12

Catalan capital to join other European cities in condemning “insufficient” response from authorities

Citizens and tourists in Plaça Catalunya, in Barcelona (by Josep Ramon Torné)
Citizens and tourists in Plaça Catalunya, in Barcelona (by Josep Ramon Torné) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

May 3, 2018 06:54 PM

As Barcelona gears up for the summer, many residents in the Catalan capital are preparing for an influx of millions of visitors with a protest against the effects of tourism planned for May 12. Yet, a spokesman for 'La Barceloneta says enough' (La Barceloneta diu prou) association insists that the demonstration “is not against tourism, but rather the city’s tourism model.”

The aim is to above all protest against property companies that, according to a spokeswoman for a tenants association, means that local residents are “permanently threatened with expulsion.” Barcelona’s federation of local residents’ associations, the FAVB, says that the demonstration will begin at 6pm in the Jardinets de Gràcia.

Similar protests will take place in other cities in southern Europe that also attract large numbers of tourists, such as Madrid, Valencia, Naples and Lisbon. The FAVB identifies two “culprits” in creating the situation it considers unsatisfactory: the current legislation for tourist apartments and rising rents, as well as an influx of property speculators from abroad.

According to 'La Barceloneta says enough', “each time there is a new tourist apartment, it means another family is put out on the street,” something the association claims contributes to further raising rents. The association is calling for more action from the authorities, as “the Catalan government has done nothing about it,” while the response of the city council “is insufficient,” they claim.

Over 30 million visitors a year

While Barcelona is home to 1.6 million residents, estimates put the number of annual visitors to the city at over 30 million, about half of whom are day-trippers. The city currently has 75,000 hotel beds available, with about another 50,000 beds in legal tourist apartments, and an estimated 50,000 beds in illegal holiday flats. Residents surveyed by the council last year put tourism second only to unemployment as the city’s biggest problem.