Barcelona Is Really Serious About Its War On Tourism
February 27, 2017 10:19 AM   Subscribe

A new strategic plan from Mayor Ada Colau to ease the swarm of tourists in the city will raise property taxes on short-term rentals and increase costs for day trippers.
posted by hippybear (33 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
War on poor tourist, or at least those not wealthy enough to be able to disregard these costs when planning their travel.

Which could then distribute travelers to other regions around Barcelona, which I'm sure the surrounding cities wouldn't mind at all.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:28 AM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


It sounds like a good idea to me. Sure, gatekeeping by way of financial privilege sucks, but how else are you going to do it? A lottery system?

Barcelona has too many tourists. It's a shame as it is a beautiful city, and I remember our family tourist excursion there fondly, but if they don't want tourists, I'd say they have the right to say so.
posted by YAMWAK at 10:42 AM on February 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


Maybe just turn even more of a blind eye to the rampant pickpockets and scammers than they already do? That should make the place sufficiently inhospitable.
posted by Buck Alec at 10:43 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Maybe just turn even more of a blind eye to the rampant pickpockets and scammers than they already do? That should make the place sufficiently inhospitable.

That approach isn't working for Naples.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:45 AM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


Tried to tax her, she only rented one-night stays
Tried to tax her, she only rented one-night stays now
She hosted day trippers, a short-term renter yeah
It took me so long to find out, and I found out
posted by Sangermaine at 11:18 AM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


As someone who lives in a city going through the same problems (and the "european destination of the year" can kiss my ass), I applaud this decision: tourist buses and fucking tuk-tuks have made going to certain parts a living hell, and parts the bus used to make under 5 minutes can now take three times that because they park and merge wherever. While some parts of downtown are being revived, they're doing it at the expense of who lives there (and can't afford the price hike of the new owners, who are less interested in monthly renters and more with charging 1/10th of that for a single night in AirBnB), and of the rest of the city - there's a cut-off point north of the city that is slowly rotting away in part because most construction/renovation is aimed at BnBs downtown. Trad commerce that has been very weakened by the recession has been further priced out by gourmet bullshit and tourist traps.

I applaud Barcelona's decision to retake their city, although more likely than not, they're going to make our situation worse, because our mayor applauds a Hard Rock café opening while a shopping mall songs were written about (well, a shop assistant) rots away half empty.

#MakePortoPodreAgain.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:30 AM on February 27, 2017 [13 favorites]


Maybe the tourists could come to Baltimore? We too have a World Trade Center and an Aquarium, and many of the same letters in our name! And we're on the water, too, sort of.
posted by ubiquity at 11:56 AM on February 27, 2017 [17 favorites]


Which could then distribute travelers to other regions around Barcelona,

Let's go near Barcelona this year!

No, I want to go near Paris...

Luckily EasyJet has the perfect flights for you.
posted by Segundus at 12:01 PM on February 27, 2017 [17 favorites]


Have they contemplated facism? Recently?

Perhaps the US is default-tourist-standard at its core or something; I can't remember a major city here ever expressing anything other than the highest love and admiration for tourists and their dollars. If you want to be isolationist here you gotta go someplace isolationist and maybe slightly weird. (All bets are off with Hawaii because Its Complicated).

When the tourist thing falls apart, the mess it leaves behind is a unique brand of horror. There is no better urbex then former-tourist center urbex. Its just unrepurposeable.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:09 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


the mess it leaves behind is a unique brand of horror.
....lookin' at you, Reno.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:10 PM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Good for them. Now lets do it in NYC please, starting with giant taxes on AirB&B.

....lookin' at you, Reno.

I love Reno, in part because of it's former-tourist center urbex. I've never seen so many awesome untouched 40s-vintage motels in one place.
posted by overhauser at 12:19 PM on February 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


I love living in Boston because while we haven't quite ramped this up, our citizens understand that tourism helps certain businesses, and not the city as a whole. We reject things like the Olympics, much to the chagrin of leeches wearing three-piece suits.
posted by explosion at 12:27 PM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Tourist destinations often have those who live there or earn their money from tourists, clamoring for them to come in order to proper from their visits, but disdaining them as annoying outsiders at the same time. They plan here to make them pay for their "annoying presence" while taxing them for visits as a form of punishment. Tax too much and fewer will visit, so the "fine" must be enough to pay for the "inconvenience," but not too high as to keep the swarms of annoying tourists away.
posted by Postroad at 12:57 PM on February 27, 2017


Good for them. Now lets do it in NYC please, starting with giant taxes on AirB&B.

The city's done you one better
posted by Itaxpica at 12:59 PM on February 27, 2017


Damn. I've heard great things from people who visited Barcelona. Guess they'd prefer if we don't.

I do have some sympathy with the problem. I used to work close to our city's waterfront, which could be a zoo in the summer... but it wasn't an insurmountable problem.

What cities do manage tourism well, and what does it look like? Do they confine the bulk of tourism to a specific area?
posted by Artful Codger at 1:06 PM on February 27, 2017


This is a great move and I hope more cities take note.

Of course, tourism is a good thing but there do not exist enough brakes to keep tourism from overwhelming a city and turning it into nothing more than a tourist Disneyland - by and for tourists only.

I am seeing it happen to Lisbon. Real estate prices hiking up because of all the tourists in Airbnbs. People being pushed out to the suburbs because that is the only place they can afford to live. Old mom and pop shops closing that can no longer afford the high rent. The narrow medieval streets filled with the pollution and noise of endless tuk-tuks. All these things are killing off the very charm that tourists have ostensibly come to see.

A city has a right to protect itself from this mass invasion. Public transport is still cheap. The museums are relatively inexpensive. So is most food and drink. Walking the scenic streets is free as well. But the city should make it dear to push out actual city residents which is what tourists are doing.
posted by vacapinta at 1:21 PM on February 27, 2017 [19 favorites]


Guess they'd prefer if we don't.
At least here , while this is true for some people, most people are fine with tourist and tourism. It's a completely different matter when said tourism at a point was being done by and for people that forget other people actually live and work here.
posted by lmfsilva at 1:58 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I want to go to the David Bowie Is... exhibition, though. It's in Barcelona at the end of May. What should I do? It's not guaranteed to tour elsewhere, is it?
posted by droplet at 3:53 PM on February 27, 2017


I want to go to the David Bowie Is... exhibition, though. It's in Barcelona at the end of May. What should I do? It's not guaranteed to tour elsewhere, is it?

If you can afford to go, go. Barcelona's a wonderful city; the last time I went (five years ago – yikes!) it was perfectly bearable if you avoided the Ramblas and the crowds around the Sagrada Familia.
posted by mushhushshu at 4:14 PM on February 27, 2017


Barcelona is a great city to fly in or out of and spend a small number of nights in while you go see the big things you just gotta see while you're transiting through that town. But I'm so glad we rented a car in Spain and drove north. The rest of Spain is gorgeous, has awesome food, and is cheaper than any major U.S. city to stay in. Also: the geology! We did not expect the geology. We took a detour through the Pyrenees on a complete whim because we were tired of highway driving and suddenly we were driving through breathtaking country on a road marked as a multi-kilometer cheese-focused bicycle touring route with town-by-town cheese stops.

I may not be a Barcelona expert, but you ain't finding that there.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:29 PM on February 27, 2017 [10 favorites]


Like seriously: it was a Pilgrim's Way for cheese. And bicycles.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:30 PM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


Ok, technically we were in France but only barely. We crossed over the border a couple times I think: Route du Fromage.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:31 PM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


War on poor tourist, or at least those not wealthy enough to be able to disregard these costs when planning their travel.

This is the weirdest comment, have you been to Barcelona? Cost is hardly a huge hurdle in getting to or around it from anywhere in Europe.
posted by fshgrl at 8:37 PM on February 27, 2017


I was there last year and tourism is destroying the place even as it bolsters its economy.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:17 PM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Barcelona has indeed a problem with mass tourism. I lived in Barcelona in the mid-80s: at that time, one could just stroll around the city to visit the tourist places. Today, it's necessary to book tickets in advance and choose a date and an hour. For instance, not only there's an entrance fee for the Monumental Zone of the Parque Güell but there's a limit of 400 people per half hour. Note that the "32 million visitors" figure in the article is a typo, as the cited source gives a more reasonable figure of 7 million visitors. This is high, but Barcelona is not even in the top 20 of the most visited cities, so why cannot Barcelona accomodate 7 million tourists when other cities can deal with much larger numbers? I wonder if part of the problem is that Barcelona has relatively (to other cities) few tourist hotspots so everybody congregates in the same areas.
posted by elgilito at 12:56 AM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


You fill your city with striking buildings and pleasant avenues; you create excellent beaches with the best infrastructure in the Mediterranean, and what happens? Fuckers visit the place.
posted by Segundus at 2:22 AM on February 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


And when too many of them visit the place, it metastasizes into a simulacrum of what it was when it began drawing them in the first place, a hyperreal Baudrillardian Disney-Spain. And then they stop coming. And then you're left with the plastic facades, empty theme restaurants, and a fading memory of what your culture was before it was fetishized into a caricature of itself.

And fifty years later, hopefully, someone comes along and says "I love Reno!" and that's the best you can hope for.

Tourism, like everything related to capitalism, has to be managed if you don't want it to metastasize into a fatal tumor.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:44 AM on February 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Seems reasonable. A city doesn't have to accept unlimited or intolerable tourism. I think poor communities are particularly vulnerable to boorish tourism that destroys the quality of life yet tells locals they can't complain as long as the tourists are bringing money. Vang Vieng in Laos springs to mind.

Many shareholders are now caught in a classic tourism catch-22. They've become too dependent on the income tubing generates to stop the business, but they're paying a much higher price than they expected for its success. ... "Our traditional way of life has been eaten alive," he says. "The noise pollution, the nudity, the rude behaviour, and now we have problems with our own youth stealing from tourists and getting addicted to alcohol and drugs." Frichitthavong's 12 years abroad have helped him develop a nuanced view of Vang Vieng's ruination. "It's a complicated dynamic. Rural life is hard. Everyone wants the economic benefits of tourism – of course we do. But we shouldn't sell our souls to get it."

I think any plan that helps communities manage tourism in a way that works for them are good.
posted by Emily's Fist at 7:10 AM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


You fill your city with striking buildings and pleasant avenues; you create excellent beaches with the best infrastructure in the Mediterranean readily available HAM CONES and what happens? Fuckers visit the place.
posted by ftm at 7:41 AM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Wow, that Vang Vieng article is seriously something. Tourists can be so awfully disrespectful.
posted by scruffy-looking nerfherder at 9:03 AM on February 28, 2017


It was a bit disheartening to find "Tourists go home" graffiti on Güell Park and people with signs that read "We're drowning in tourists!" Especially since, unsurprisingly, I found Barcelona to have the best customer service culture of all the places we visited in Spain. I don't like traveling due to anxiety issues and one of the worst aspects is not feeling welcome in a place unless you're there to spend money, and Spain had surprised us with plenty of interactions that ranged from blunt to hostile from people we were trying to buy stuff from. So when I met kind and smiling shopkeepers in Barcelona I almost broke down in tears and bought way more stuff than we needed, I was so grateful.

Later on a Spaniard acquaintance told me this perceived rudeness is actually how they show they are comfortable to be their true selves around you. Unfiltered, I guess. They might want to rethink that approach in relation to tourism.
posted by infinitelives at 11:26 AM on February 28, 2017


Anyone who would like to know more about how tourism has affected the daily lives of those who live in Barcelona might enjoy this documentary.
posted by chicainthecity at 11:58 AM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


so why cannot Barcelona accomodate 7 million tourists when other cities can deal with much larger numbers

My guess is that it's due to Barcelona having like 1.5 million citizens and tourism being concentrated in the city centre (with a dash of the seaside), which is not that big a space.

If Barcelona wasn't an inexpensive* destination, I wouldn't have ever learnt Spanish and be the same person, so my feelings are mixed.

*Relatively - back in the time before ubiquitous cheap flights
posted by ersatz at 10:46 PM on February 28, 2017


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