Photo: Jocey K
Tourism is a double-edged sword for Spain. The country’s economy depends upon overseas visitors for revenue, especially in a time when Spain is still rebuilding from the recession.
A record 65 million tourists visited Spain last year, according to the UN World Tourism Organization, while figures from the INE show that tourist spending was up 9.5 per cent in January 2015 year-on-year.
For Spain’s second city, though, tourism is also a growing problem. Last year, more than 7.5 million international tourists visited Barcelona, over four times its population, while the number of rooms available has risen to roughly 70,000.
At the same time, sites such as Airbnb have encouraged private homeowners to sub-let out their rooms to visitors too. In Barcelona, those hoping to offer private tourist housing must register for a licence, following a negative impact upon Spain’s hotels and official tourism accommodation industry.
Now, though, Barcelona has decided that it needs to bring the whole approval process to a halt, not just for Airbnb applicants, but for apartments, hotels and hostels too. Indeed, some locals are concerned about the pricing out of domestic buyers from the property market, while others have complained about the disruption and damage to the city’s character that mass tourism can bring.
The decision was announced this week by the newly elected left-wing mayor, Ada Colau, who said that the city needed to “begin a process of participatory reflection instead of going around putting out fires”.
“Up to now, tourist policy has been handled with patches,” she is quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal.
While the freeze, which could last up to a year, continues, the town hall will study existing accommodation capacity and implement a public consultation on a sustainable plan for the future.
Source:: The Movechannel