Barcelona bans Airbnb (etc.) by 2028
June 21, 2024 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Top tourist destination Barcelona plans to shut all holiday apartments by 2028: The city's leftist mayor, Jaume Collboni, said that by November 2028, Barcelona will scrap the licences of the 10,101 apartments currently approved as short-term rentals.

"We are confronting what we believe is Barcelona's largest problem," Collboni told a city government event.

The boom in short-term rentals in Barcelona, Spain's most visited city by foreign tourists, means some residents cannot afford an apartment after rents rose 68% in the past 10 years and the cost of buying a house rose by 38%, Collboni said. Access to housing has become a driver of inequality, particularly for young people, he added.
posted by pracowity (78 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hotels stand to benefit from the move. The opening of new hotels in the city's most popular areas was banned by a far-left party governing Barcelona between 2015 and 2023, but Collboni has signalled he could relax the restriction.

It sounds like Barcelona just doesn't want to grow, despite overwhelming demand. Tale as old as time.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:32 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


tbh freeing up 10,000 apartments in 1-2m population city doesn't really seem like enough to stem this sort of housing price rise
posted by BungaDunga at 10:33 AM on June 21 [4 favorites]


I enjoyed th AirBnbs I had in my tour of Japan last year but it's just not a "sustainable" business when the externalities are accounted for.
posted by torokunai at 10:34 AM on June 21 [11 favorites]


tbh freeing up 10,000 apartments in 1-2m population city doesn't really seem like enough to stem this sort of housing price rise

Hard to say without more information. Multi-bedroom apartments means housing for more that 10,000 people. And if Barcelona is similar to my city, a lot of the units turned to AirBnBs here were either efficiency apartments or "starter houses" -- kind of sucked up a lot of the available market for people just entering the workforce and those finally in a position to purchase a first home. It's put a squeeze on the whole housing market -- hard to get your first apartment and hard to save enough income to buy a house. Everyone feels stuck where they are because those points of entry have become wildly out of sync with career and income milestones.
posted by Silvery Fish at 10:43 AM on June 21 [46 favorites]


tbh freeing up 10,000 apartments in 1-2m population city doesn't really seem like enough to stem this sort of housing price rise

I imagine it's about more than just increasing vacancies though right? I support any policy that curbs investor demand and speculation in service of this sort of thing, especially in heavy tourism cities, nipping it in the bud before it spirals like it has it some other cities. Whole cottage industries around AirBnB "management" companies have sprung up out of the idea that you can now just buy up apartments and hand the keys over to a company that will manage your portfolio of vacation rentals, and make totally passive income bro. This seems like a bad thing that should stop.
posted by windbox at 10:50 AM on June 21 [32 favorites]


Wow, tourism accounts for 11.5% of Spain's GDP! (the US is 2%) and per the FPP, accounted for 71% of Spain's growth last year. No wonder they have a love/hate relationship with tourists.
posted by gwint at 10:51 AM on June 21 [5 favorites]


I wonder what the cost of losing all those tourists will be, and I wonder how it compares to just building 10k new units. I suspect Barcelona is more interested in curbing tourism rather than creating affordable housing.
posted by TurnKey at 11:00 AM on June 21


I'm always amazed that when it comes to building a 4 apt complex with marble countertops, it's 'Every Unit of Housing Matters'. And when it comes to a vacancy tax, or AirBnB regulations, it's 'those 10-40k housing units are barely a drop in the bucket!'.
posted by whm at 11:02 AM on June 21 [56 favorites]


AirBnb has an outsized effect because someone who owns an apartment may only rent it for eight days a month, but if someone's living there, it's occupied for thirty
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:05 AM on June 21 [14 favorites]


I'm always amazed that when it comes to building a 4 apt complex with marble countertops, it's 'Every Unit of Housing Matters'. And when it comes to a vacancy tax, or AirBnB regulations, it's 'those 10-40k housing units are barely a drop in the bucket!'.

But...both things can be true? Yes, build every housing unit. But also, don't view "ban airbnb" as a sufficient fix. They will need to both build all the new housing that they can AND have a vacancy tax AND ban airbnb AND probably do, like, a shitload of other things to actually resolve the crisis.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:05 AM on June 21 [7 favorites]


I'm always amazed that when it comes to building a 4 apt complex with marble countertops, it's 'Every Unit of Housing Matters'. And when it comes to a vacancy tax, or AirBnB regulations, it's 'those 10-40k housing units are barely a drop in the bucket!'.

AirBnB regulations are a one time boon. Barcelona can't get another 10k units by banning them again. A housing construction pipeline continuously brings housing online over a long period of time. That is why banning AirBnB is a drop in the bucket where as building new units is a sustainable way to manage the cost of housing.
posted by TurnKey at 11:08 AM on June 21 [9 favorites]


I wonder what the cost of losing all those tourists will be,

There were tourists before AirBnB and will be after. They are "losing" unregulated rentals and replacing them with better regulated ones.
posted by tofu_crouton at 11:10 AM on June 21 [54 favorites]


I wonder how it compares to just building 10k new units

A much cheaper solution would to be to build a 10k units in ultra-dense buildings for very short-term residents. We could introduce all kinds of efficiencies, like a dedicated cleaning staff to neaten up between tenants, and eliminate costly amenities, like full kitchens and storage spaces, that very short-term residents are unlikely to need. Additional taxes could be placed on rentals to make up for the burden that these very short-term residents will place on infrastructure, given that they're unlikely to pay income taxes due to the fleeting duration of their residence. Then we could free up those 10k AirBnB units for longer-term residents, without the expense and real estate footprint of building a large number of long term residences! It's a win-win, I wonder why the VCs haven't already thought of this
posted by phooky at 11:11 AM on June 21 [46 favorites]


They are "losing" unregulated rentals and replacing them with better regulated ones.

And presumably filling the rentals with people who live there permanently, spending money in Barcelona and paying taxes. So, not really a "cost" at all?
posted by LionIndex at 11:14 AM on June 21 [19 favorites]


Even in my smallish town, air bnd fucks with rental prices. Not directly through limiting supply (which it does), but it moves the bar for regular rentals too by effectively pitting local wages against rich external short term rental money.

Which is to say, the problem with short term rentals isn't only that they take those units out of the livable housing market for locals. They also provide cover/excuse for shitty land lords to raise the rent. Even less shitty land lords then have to raise the rent if they have a mortgage on the property, because the banks will complain if your housing is under what is pegged as local average—which then sets Airbnb prices higher. It really is a vicious cycle, and I'm glad to hear someone is recognizing the harms these 'services' bring and taking a stand against them.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:14 AM on June 21 [39 favorites]


But also, don't view "ban airbnb" as a sufficient fix.

Who in the world is saying its sufficient. Can you parade this person around?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:16 AM on June 21 [12 favorites]


Again, nobody is saying banning AirBnB is the only solution. But the fact that there are people arguing supply and demand who object strongly to the the fastest, simplest, and most immediate increases in supply seems always bothered me. There's no argument but that AirBnB did drive up rental prices, and removed a bunch of (often rental) housing from the market. That's abundantly clear, and was a huge regulatory failing at the time. Fixing that now doesn't mean we can't build but it's a valuable short term aid to struggling people while building occurs. People can argue that it doesn't completely fix the problem, but I don't think there's a sincere argument that it doesn't at least help.
posted by whm at 11:20 AM on June 21 [14 favorites]


There were tourists before AirBnB and will be after. They are "losing" unregulated rentals and replacing them with better regulated ones.

A much cheaper solution would to be to build a 10k units in ultra-dense buildings for very short-term residents.

Are they replacing them? The article is kind of unclear on this, but it sounds like they banned building new hotels as well.

And presumably filling the rentals with people who live there permanently, spending money in Barcelona and paying taxes. So, not really a "cost" at all?

This would mean that the new inhabitants don't already live in Barcelona. If that's the case, I'm not sure that this move improves housing availability at all.
posted by TurnKey at 11:21 AM on June 21


A much cheaper solution would to be to build a 10k units in ultra-dense buildings for very short-term residents. We could introduce all kinds of efficiencies, like a dedicated cleaning staff to neaten up between tenants, and eliminate costly amenities, like full kitchens and storage spaces, that very short-term residents are unlikely to need.

I get that this is a hotel joke, but I want to quote it just to point out that Airbnb (for all its flaws) does serve classes of 'short term residents' that are very poorly served by hotels today. Families specifically are more likely to prefer short term accommodations with a place to cook their own food rather than having to buy every meal, more physical space including at least one dedicated closed-off sleeping area, and less-than-daily cleaning.

I'd be all over renting hotel rooms that match this description, but for the most part hotels do a very poor job of providing this at a reasonable price. The market is going to fill that demand one way or the other, and banning all short term rentals feels like a pretty good way to make "one way or the other" the off-the-books unregulated way.
posted by true at 11:26 AM on June 21 [17 favorites]


I wonder what the cost of losing all those tourists will be

I mean, are all the hotels full all the time? A quick google suggests an occupancy rate in the 70% range. If those 10k rentals are off-limits, can the hotel industry absorb the tourists who would've stayed in those Airbnbs?

I went to Barcelona last year, and stayed in an aparthotel: the space/amenities of an apartment (small kitchen, washer/dryer, etc.), plus some minimal but appreciated hotel services like a staffed front desk and some housekeeping. That kind of thing seems like a much better deal to me, especially given Airbnb prices nowadays with those hundreds of dollars of cleaning fees, plus I don't feel like I'm using an apartment that should be on the rental market for actual residents. So like, build more of these, or convert existing hotels into aparthotels, because I agree that there's a demand for this kind of place, and it seems like everyone would be better off if the actual hotel industry met that demand, rather than real estate speculators and VC.
posted by yasaman at 11:34 AM on June 21 [13 favorites]


I lived there briefly in 2017 and it was easily the densest place I've ever lived. I usually am in Toronto and have also lived in Los Angeles County for a few years. I said to someone there that I could not believe the sheer number of people on the streets at all hours and he said, "Yes. Please don't move here."
posted by dobbs at 11:36 AM on June 21 [6 favorites]


that settles it. i'm going to Ibiza
posted by HearHere at 11:37 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


my lasting memory of Barcelona is the sound of luggage wheels on cobblestone 24/7.
posted by wmo at 11:39 AM on June 21 [16 favorites]


A much cheaper solution would to be to build a 10k units in ultra-dense buildings for very short-term residents.

Wouldn't building maybe two or three hotels be even cheaper?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:40 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


It sounds like Barcelona just doesn't want to grow, despite overwhelming demand. Tale as old as time.

There's a word for growth without limitation or control. The word is "cancer."
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:40 AM on June 21 [26 favorites]


Any housing policy that makes "real estate" either non-existent or more unattractive as a business plan, an investment, a line item in a fucking portfolio or spreadsheet is a good policy to me, fuck tourism who gives a shit. Oh no guess your family has to get cheap takeout instead of cook at home in your private rental who cares! Barcelona is a grown up city it's not like people go there to stay in their world-class unique AirBnBs, I have a strong they'll figure out how to make "tourism" continue to work and families will figure out how to make their european vacations work.
posted by windbox at 11:40 AM on June 21 [24 favorites]


Making 10,000 more apartments available (and stopping others from continuing to turn into Airbnbs) means at 10,000 more people can live and go to school and stay and work in Barcelona. That's fine. And if shutting down Airbnbs slows the growth of tourism and pushes people into other professions, that's also fine. The (over)tourist industry is bad for the world.
posted by pracowity at 11:49 AM on June 21 [26 favorites]


"fuck tourism who gives a shit"

All of the people whose livelihoods depend on tourists, I think.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:55 AM on June 21 [6 favorites]


Haven't seen a mention of the current huge wave of Tourism that is staining a lot of the more popular places. People blame it on the "post-Covid" surge but it seems like several things are piling up together.

Anyway. A lot of (hopefully temporary) measures are in the works to handle the strain(s). And a lot of things are possible now that wouldn't have been.
posted by aleph at 11:55 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


There's a word for growth without limitation or control. The word is "cancer."

Is Tokyo a cancer? Because it keeps growing and has managed to keep housing affordable. Oh, and it is also a wildly popular tourist destination.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:57 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


All of the people whose livelihoods depend on tourists, I think.

Yeah no I promise you people that AirBnB is not some boon on Barcelona's tourism industry, Barcelona is the boon on the AirBnB/vacation rental industry - and on the larger "real estate as a line item on my little excel spreadsheet" industry.

I assure you that people will keep visiting Barcelona and eating at their tapas restaurants and doing their little tours of the Sagrada Familia...I *promise* you do not have to worry about this let alone center your housing policy objectives around this shit.
posted by windbox at 12:04 PM on June 21 [35 favorites]


We stayed in an Airbnb when we visited BCN in 2015, and it was less expensive than a hotel in the same area would have been for the same number of nights. I had forgotten about pulling suitcases along cobblestone streets, but I guess we did do that to get from the metro to our apartment nearby. High-speed train from MAD to BCN, then metro from the train station to steps away from our apartment meant we didn't have to pull our suitcases very far, at least.
posted by emelenjr at 12:10 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


As much as I have used AirBnb for several trips for the usual reasons (separate bedrooms for us and the kids, ability to cook our own meals), I think this is a good move, and the overall AirBnb and short-term rental market has grown progressively shittier in the last few years. Someone above mentioned "aparthotels" with a hotel-like building with small apartments and that would be a perfect solution if the price wasn't too high. I think lots of hotels are at least exploring this kind of thing as an option. Regardless, even as a frequent user, I support this action and would support it in other cities as well! I think it would have a fair number of positive outcomes and hopefully the demand for that kind of accommodation would be met with some new, more hotel-like options!
posted by dellsolace at 12:16 PM on June 21 [4 favorites]


Who in the world is saying its sufficient. Can you parade this person around?

I was replying to a comment that suggested it was somehow hypocritical to hold the positions of "every housing unit counts" and also "freeing up 10K units via airbnb is a drop in the bucket" simultaneously.

I'm saying it's not remotely so; 10K units IS a drop in the bucket, and also we should do it anyway, because every housing unit counts.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:26 PM on June 21 [7 favorites]


Oooh, let's do Toronto next!!
posted by Kitteh at 1:35 PM on June 21 [5 favorites]


Families specifically are more likely to prefer short term accommodations with a place to cook their own food rather than having to buy every meal, more physical space including at least one dedicated closed-off sleeping area, and less-than-daily cleaning.

The hotel industry does provide suites like this. They are expensive, though. From Barcelona's perspective (one of maximizing tourist dollars and increasing housing affordability) it makes sense to give preference to accommodations that encourage tourists to eat out. Remember that Barcelona wants to choose the option that is best for the people who live there. Tourists are not going to stop coming there any time soon.

(What doesn't make sense is to build another 10K houses that will immediately be bought by speculators and turned into AirBnBs.)
posted by phooky at 1:42 PM on June 21 [6 favorites]


There's a word for growth without limitation or control

How many cities in Europe are experiencing growth without limitations or control? Is that at all an issue here?
posted by 2N2222 at 1:56 PM on June 21


"fuck tourism who gives a shit"

All of the people whose livelihoods depend on tourists, I think.


Like hotel workers? Of which there would be a greater need if there are no more AirBnBs and people switch to hotels? Other tourism services can and do also cater to locals (restaurants, amusement parks, museums) as well. So...?

And I'm saying this as someone who's habitually been too broke to stay in the hotels and used Airbnb instead, and two of my BFFs make their living managing two rental properties in Utah. I still think this is important to do; AirBnB didn't put the guard rails on to prevent the investors who abused the AirBnB concept, so this is a city doing what AirBnB failed to do. Maybe this will spur AirBnB to take its own action in other cities instead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:05 PM on June 21 [5 favorites]


"fuck tourism who gives a shit"

All of the people whose livelihoods depend on tourists, I think.


Sure, owners and managers might stand to lose out here. But the majority of tourism-adjacent jobs are pretty rough and low-paying, and many people find the work degrading (busing tables for next to nothing while drunk tourists leer at you...housekeeping and cleaning up after drunk tourists and their various messes). It would ultimately be better if the local economy relied less on tourism and more on another industry. Ideally one that doesn't so badly exploit low-wage workers.
posted by knotty knots at 2:42 PM on June 21 [10 favorites]




Is Tokyo a cancer?

Yes? In that it drains all resources and services from the rest of the country, hollowing it out until only a husk (and a vibrant, healthy tumor) remains.

Edited to add, from the guy commuting to Tokyo because there are no good jobs in Chiba.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:23 PM on June 21 [14 favorites]


There's a word for growth without limitation or control. The word is "cancer."

The limit would be population growth in general not arbitrarily constraining housing supply! That just makes life worse for almost everybody without actually doing anything to address concerns about overpopulation (such that those concerns exist any more. Overpopulation is old and busted. Underpopulation is the new hotness.)
posted by Justinian at 5:33 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Congratulations, Barcelona! Hooray for getting places to live back on the market. There's certainly other factors involved in the shitty housing market but every improvement counts.

One of the best things about hotels vs AirBnbs is that it keeps the tourists in the tourist zone, where the city is prepared to deal with them. If they wanna have a big rowdy party there's places designed to explicitly cater to that and help them have a great time instead of them spilling out of a place in the middle of a residential area where folks are trying to sleep.

Hotels probably also end up with more money actually hitting the economy of the city they're in, I know most of the AirBnbs here in New Orleans are owned by out-of-state investors who siphon off as much money as possible. Hotel chains can also certainly have money going elsewhere but the fact that they're actually on the city's taxation radar in a meaningful way, and employ a bunch of people, means a lot more opportunities for tourist dollars to actually end up in the city.
posted by egypturnash at 6:17 PM on June 21 [11 favorites]


There are intersting buildings by Gaudi in Barcelona, but otherwise I'd strongly advise visiting other Spanish cities, because tourism has really damaged Barcelona: high pickpocket rates, terrible food by Spanish standrds, etc. There is no chance this reduces tourism, but Barcelona would benefit if tourism were restrained somewhat.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:54 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


I recall reading a few articles from 4+ years ago about how there was already growing resentment from the locals in Barcelona about the volume of tourists, so this latest move against AirBnBs should be looked at through this wider lens.

It seems that many famous destinations are experiencing tourist saturation, and are starting to push back. Venice is a famous example. We went to Europe in 2008, and again in 2023. We certainly noticed more tourists in Paris and elsewhere on the second trip. The palace at Versailles was a disappointing herd experience. Ditto for some other famous attractions and destinations. In 2008, just about all of our French dining out was memorable; in 2023, we ended up eating some really crap, overpriced meals in the tourist areas. (Wherever you go in Europe, be friendly to the hotel staff, and when a rapport is established, ask them for restaurant recommendations. You'll thank me).

We live on a finite planet; like any other resource, tourism can be over-exploited. Travel, but as planet-friendly as possible; maybe seek out interesting destinations that are not iconic tourist clichés.

Oh, and why do people love those hardshell carry-ons with wheels so much? Last fall, we planned to do our EU trip with no checked luggage, just carry-ons, and we opted for soft carry-on-legal backpacks with shoulderstraps and waistbelts, and we were way more mobile than if we were dragging around rolly bags. Quieter too.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:50 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Tourism is a scourge that turns inhabitants into servants. Remote money and interest come to wholly dominate local value and need.
posted by dmh at 8:00 PM on June 21 [13 favorites]


I'd like to to think it doesn't have to be that way but damn if my not-rich-enough-to-casually-globe-trot ass knows of any good counterexamples.

I've had a good time visiting some nice places and some of them were even outside my home country. But now that I think of it, once it's known for 'tourism' it's probably already a scourge.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:36 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


tbh freeing up 10,000 apartments in 1-2m population city doesn't really seem like enough to stem this sort of housing price rise

I really hate how being a leftist means you have to have a simple answer that is also a complete and permanent solution for every problem or else your policies are declared ridiculous and untenable.
posted by AlSweigart at 9:23 PM on June 21 [18 favorites]


>"Portugal [:] It’s just the playground of the EU"
now everyone's gonna want to go
posted by HearHere at 9:29 PM on June 21


The hotel industry does provide suites like this. They are expensive, though

I assure you, they mostly do not. The vast majority of "suites" are a living area (sometimes with a wretchedly uncomfortable pull-out couch), and a single bed in a bedroom. Often there's not even a real door between them. The number of hotels that offer anything remotely good for families is tiny—I have children who are spaced far apart, so I've looked. (Shout out to the Legoland hotel, one of the only ones that seems designed by anyone who has ever met a child. Every room at the one in San Diego is ten times more functional than the majority of suites I've stayed at, as they have bunk beds for kids separated from a king bed by the bathroom.)

If hotels offered a real suite (that could provide separated sleeping areas for my children who otherwise wake each other up and annoy each other), I would be first in line to stay there. Laundry would also be huge. A kitchen I can take or leave.

I do not feel great about my relationship with Airbnb, and I think Barcelona is making the right move, and also, I'm begging hotels to take my money for more apartment-like accommodations.
posted by purpleclover at 10:37 PM on June 21 [9 favorites]


AirBnBs are like parking lots in that tourists are attracted to a cool area because of the local culture and such, but then Airbnbs start popping up and lend to decreasing the charm of the location.
posted by waving at 11:43 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


Any policy making landlords and international tourists this angry has got to be a good thing.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 3:59 AM on June 22 [6 favorites]


If you’ve ever lived in an overtouristed city where tourism has become, if not the primary industry/economic engine, then one of the top three, you know that at some point you have to figure out whether your priority is the comfort of the (temporary)tourists or the actual lived experience of the citizens. This usually leads to some hard, even existential, choices because the answer is rarely “both.” Ironically, it can be the case that new (or comparatively new) transplants (many of whom tourists turned citizens) can be both some of the most outspoken about the stark difference between visiting your dream destination and actual living in your dream destination because they’ve experienced both more recently. On the other hand, they’d usually the loudest voices in the “don’t change, don’t grow, stay exactly the same as it was when I got here” crowd.

A whole lot of people have spent more than half a century trying to convince communities that tourism is some kind of panacea, especially in places rich in scenic backdrops or natural resources or architecture or culture, and comparatively poor in everything else. I’ve said this before: it’s not. But it’s extremely hard, barring disaster, to walk it back once it’s become the identity. Barcelona is a major city, so it’s a quite a bit different than, say, my hometown of Asheville, NC, but I know what it is to feel like you’re drowning under an endless wave of travel. 10,000 units won’t fix an affordable housing crisis in a city of 1-2million, but when you’re just trying to get your head above water, anything helps.
posted by thivaia at 4:37 AM on June 22 [12 favorites]


10,000 units won’t fix an affordable housing crisis in a city of 1-2million, but when you’re just trying to get your head above water, anything helps.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 homes are sold yearly on the Barcelona market, so speculative demand no longer driving up the prices of 10,000 homes might affect pricing more than comparing by population size would suggest.
posted by dmh at 6:02 AM on June 22 [8 favorites]


I mean, just tax AirBnBs at a high rate and use it to build housing?

You can even scale the taxation rate based on how dense the AirBnBs are. Then there is a soft cap on building more units.
posted by NotAYakk at 11:02 AM on June 22


No one is going to avoid Barcelona because AirBnB is no longer available there!

For overseas trips, a hotel is almost always vastly more convenient. Delays, late check-in, etc. That said, we were just in Mexico City and stayed in an extremely great AirBnB... every aspect of it was wonderful. This was definitely someone's full-time rental property, because the keys were button codes, so we didn't have to meet anyone at the location. Once inside, we switched to real keys versus the code. The owners/manger was very responsive and I couldn't have asked for more. That said, I still think a reputable hotel is a better choice for travel.
posted by SoberHighland at 11:24 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]


It seems that many famous destinations are experiencing tourist saturation
Airline tickets are too cheap. Cruise ships are too cheap. Destinations should use fees and taxes to maximize profit per visitor, not maximize the number of visitors. If they can halve the number of visitors but scrape twice the money from each remaining visitor, they're winning in terms of the load on the local infrastructure and the erosion of attractions.
posted by pracowity at 2:01 PM on June 22 [4 favorites]


It piques my curiosity whether on a planet with 8 billion people distributed over it whether tourism—seeing travel as one of the essential forms of recreation needed by human psyche and spirit—is mathematically feasible in a sustainable and fair (such as, not elitist) way. Obviously not all 8 billion people on Earth want to visit Barcelona on the same day, but a world-scale society that sustains 8 billion people who want to partake in travel is an interesting social and economic problem that goes beyond the various local efforts - mostly bans on this or that - that are reactionary to the devastations of overtourism.
posted by polymodus at 3:17 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Any policy making landlords and international tourists this angry has got to be a good thing.

Excuse me?

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:20 PM on June 22


Excuse me?

People who get mad that they have to stay in a hotel after flying internationally for pleasure instead of being able to rent an entire house are not high on my list of concerns.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 5:29 PM on June 22 [4 favorites]


I do not feel great about my relationship with Airbnb, and I think Barcelona is making the right move, and also, I'm begging hotels to take my money for more apartment-like accommodations.

You and me both. I do not use AirBnB but I get the appeal, I have needed temp lodging while traveling for longer periods on a few occasions (a month or more) and living in a small hotel room with no kitchen is not great for anything longer than a week. Unfortunately, finding short-term lodging or aparthotels is still really difficult in many of these places, in Europe in general it seems to be far less common - there is often no local equivalent to a US Residence Inn or a corporate apartment.

People who get mad that they have to stay in a hotel after flying internationally for pleasure instead of being able to rent an entire house are not high on my list of concerns.

Who said they are flying for pleasure? People also travel to places for better opportunities, to escape bad situations, or even to take care of family (something I am personally dealing with myself right now). Sorry if we're not deserving of your concern.
posted by photo guy at 12:20 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


Who said they are flying for pleasure?

If they aren't traveling for pleasure then they aren't tourists by definition.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 3:38 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


If they aren't traveling for pleasure then they aren't tourists by definition.

Yet restricting housing options still hurts those people. You and most of the people here seem to assume tourism is the only reason people could possibly travel, I am saying that is false. I am not defending AirBnB (far from it) but I am saying there is a legitimate need for short-term housing beyond rich people on holidays.
posted by photo guy at 4:03 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


Yet restricting housing options still hurts those people.

How many of those people are going to Barcelona and spending enough money on lodging to make tourist oriented airbnbs a reasonable place to stay? The poor people travelling for short term jobs wind up paying ultra cheap motels by the week or month. I know this because I also stay in the cheapest possible motels when I travel, and they are always there.

This isn't "no one should ever have a short term residence". It is putting ten thousand units in a specific city back in the housing market for residents of the city in question. That is the position that is being engaged with.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 4:23 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, before the age of AirBnB, if we went on vacation we always stayed at a place that had a kitchenette because we were poor and didn't want to eat at restaurants. We didn't generally have extra rooms for the kids though--paying for privacy for one or two days seems really extravagant to me now. Where are all these cheap places with kitchens now? Was it a Southern thing? Or a poor thing? (I have stayed in some hotels in town like Motel 6 and La Quinta that are mostly used for transitional housing for the homeless and some of those are more home-like because they rent them out for weeks at a time.) Or was the kitchenette driven from the market?
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:26 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]


People who get mad that they have to stay in a hotel after flying internationally for pleasure instead of being able to rent an entire house are not high on my list of concerns.

You didn't specify this, you said "international tourists". Not all international tourists stay in Airbnbs.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:48 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


You didn't specify this, you said "international tourists". Not all international tourists stay in Airbnbs.

If they aren't using airbnb, then presumably they aren't one of the ones getting angry about this situation.

In general, I am not particularly worried about people's ability to go on pleasure trips. Whenever the idea of restricting jet travel or reducing access for tourists come up, there are people who act like getting to fly to Paris for vacation is a human right. I think they are silly.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 4:54 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


The poor people travelling for short term jobs wind up paying ultra cheap motels by the week or month. I know this because I also stay in the cheapest possible motels when I travel, and they are always there.

Based on your posting history, I'm going to assume that you are American and most of your traveling is within the US. The ultra-cheap roadside motel you are thinking of (and really the concept of a "motel" in general) is primarily a North American phenomenon, they exist in parts of Europe but are far less common.

And as I stated already, there is IME a notable lack of "apart-hotels" in many places in Europe which are perfect for people who would otherwise be tempted by AirBnB. The US does a far better job of offering alternative options for people in those situations - by-the-month furnished rentals, Residence Inn / Homewood Suites - type places, etc are all extremely common and can be booked cheaper on a weekly/monthly basis. And as I also stated, many of those people are NOT tourists.

I have no problem with this specific policy (as i stated quite clearly I am not defending AirBnB) and I am not familiar with the Barcelona housing market. I am just trying to provide an alternate viewpoint as "f*** all tourists" can very quickly (and in many places, already has) morph into "f*** all foreigners". As one of those foreigners, I naturally find that a little bit disturbing.
posted by photo guy at 5:27 AM on June 23


> You didn't specify this, you said "international tourists". Not all international tourists stay in Airbnbs.

If they aren't using airbnb, then presumably they aren't one of the ones getting angry about this situation.


Okay, but that's not what you said; it sounded very much like you were implying the opposite, that all international tourists were getting mad about this; which further suggested that you think all international tourists are themselves an issue.

If you mis-spoke, then fair enough. That's all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:49 AM on June 23


I have no problem with this specific policy (as i stated quite clearly I am not defending AirBnB) and I am not familiar with the Barcelona housing market. I am just trying to provide an alternate viewpoint as "f*** all tourists" can very quickly (and in many places, already has) morph into "f*** all foreigners". As one of those foreigners, I naturally find that a little bit disturbing.

That's a very understandable concern.

That said, tourism does put specific, harmful pressures on the economies of popular destinations that other kinds of travellers don't. And I think Metafilter is the kind of community where we can discuss those distortions without a risk of spiralling into nativism.

The difference between the wealthy attracted to the weakness of the local economy (thinking of developers here, rather than individual tourists) and labor immigrants attracted by its strength could not be greater in terms of vulnerability and effect on the community.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 6:54 AM on June 23


Airline tickets are too cheap. Cruise ships are too cheap. Destinations should use fees and taxes to maximize profit per visitor, not maximize the number of visitors. If they can halve the number of visitors but scrape twice the money from each remaining visitor, they're winning in terms of the load on the local infrastructure and the erosion of attractions.

Point taken, but that's not exactly sound economics.

I agree that the prices of economy air travel or cruises does not always reflect the true end-to-end cost and impact of such travel. But once there, the popular travel destinations are already pretty good at extracting value from tourism. Steep hotel rates are a big driver of AirBnB's success.

... tourism does put specific, harmful pressures on the economies of popular destinations that other kinds of travellers don't.

What do you mean by "other kinds of travellers"? Why would such travellers be going to popular tourist destinations? Are there enough of these "other travellers" to matter in this discussion? For some destinations, tourism IS the economy, or a significant part of it.

I don't see that tourism is itself intrinsically evil. But its impact and harms must be managed.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:10 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


What do you mean by "other kinds of travellers"? Why would such travellers be going to popular tourist destinations? Are there enough of these "other travellers" to matter in this discussion? For some destinations, tourism IS the economy, or a significant part of it.

Indeed. I was responding to those taking critiques of tourisms impact to be attacks on labor migrants and people travelling to care for sick relatives. I don't think the latter two have much at all to do with this discussion.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 10:31 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


my lasting memory of Barcelona is the sound of luggage wheels on cobblestone 24/7.
And parrots.
posted by pracowity at 7:27 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


I did not expect Tokyo hate here, but I suppose that's to be expected. I'm sure there are people in Spain who hate Barcelona and Madrid, just like some people in the US hate all of our cities.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:08 AM on June 25


I live in a beautiful, highly touristed city, with Airbnb controversies and the whole lot. I don't begrudge tourists. It seems to me that a lot of people, when faced with housing shortages and skyrocketing prices, look around for someone to blame, and tourists are an easy target. They can be annoying, they generally aren't known to you personally, and they don't vote.

But I wonder: who gets to determine who is allowed to sleep within the city limits? Given the choice of one person staying for years, chosen either by ability to pay, an affordable housing lottery, or some other method, or a hundred people each staying three days for which they pay a sum which is sizable yet not out of reach for an average person, it seems to me that the most equitable result would be for people to share the experience.

The best result would be to make sure that there is room for both. The second best may be tourism.
posted by alexei at 6:34 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Are you saying your preference is for space for tourists rather than permanent residents? Who would work at all the restaurants and museums that the tourists want to see? Who will take out the trash if houses are priced at $200 a night?
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:52 PM on June 26


Let’s see if it helps. My personal suspicion is that as more affordable housing becomes available in prime areas, even more people will move in.
posted by clark at 5:07 AM on June 27


My personal suspicion is that as more affordable housing becomes available in prime areas, even more people will move in.

Isn't that the point? To allow people to live where they want to live?

Who will take out the trash if houses are priced at $200 a night?

Even if you manage to grant cheap apartments to people, there's still nothing that obligates them to collect your garbage. If you want people to collect your garbage, you have to pay them enough to make it worthwhile to them, which includes the cost of a commute and the cost of rent. If our housing policies have made this cost very high, then we need to acknowledge that, and pay it, instead of trying to pretend that we can avoid it by curating which sort of people can stay in the city -- because, on top of all the other problems, it won't work.
posted by alexei at 6:24 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


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