Barcelona’s anti-tourist protests

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BARCELONA’S beachfront neighbourhood of La Barceloneta was alive with protests yesterday when around 300 people joined together to demonstrate against tourism in the area.

Locals feel that the current model of tourism that Barcelona city council is promoting is not compatible with the daily life of those who have lived in the area for years.

This latest protest saw demands made regularly of late, including the imposition of greater controls over unlicensed tourist B&Bs, a greater police presence during the evenings, and the promotion of traditional shops.

Sergio Arnas, a spokesman for the movement and speaking to El País, said: “We have been a very tolerant neighbourhood, but this situation is too much. We want tourists in hotels and locals in their houses.”

Rented apartments mixed in amongst family housing in the area’s apartment blocks means that some residents see new neighbours move in to their building every couple of days, leaving them feeling unsafe and lacking a sense of community. All the local stores have been replaced by touristy souvenir shops, and residents complain of having to travel into the centre to buy essential goods.

This is not the first time that the neighbourhood has seen demonstrations. Last Tuesday, 100 people took to the streets to express their anger over unscrupulous B&B owners, hosting all manner of guests who drunkenly make noise throughout the night and leave the streets covered in vomit and urine by morning.

The town council responded to the first protest by increasing the police presence on the streets in an aim to discourage rowdy visitors. Now, the acting-mayoress of Barcelona, MaiteFandos, has promised to work towards regularising the area’s B&Bs before the end of the year. Her intention is to concentrate guesthouses together, thereby separating them from residential areas and limiting their contact with locals.

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