28 October 2016
Ada Colau is trying to stop her city from ending up like Venice. Photo: AFP
Ada Colau is trying to stop her city from ending up like Venice. Photo: AFP

New Barcelona mayor eyes cap on tourists

Barcelona’s new mayor said she intends to introduce a cap on tourists to “stop the city becoming Venice”, the Daily Telegraph reported.

“If we don’t want to end up like Venice, we will have to put some kind of limit in Barcelona,” Ada Colau, the anti-austerity protester and mayor-elect of Spain’s second city, told the newspaper El País in an interview published Monday.

“We can grow more, but I don’t know how much more.” 

In 2013, the last year for which Barcelona’s tourism office has complete records, 7.57 million tourists visited the city, including more than six million non-Spaniards.

In 2000, the number of visitors was 3.14 million.

Colau said her city administration would draw up a strategic plan to balance the interests of the tourism sector with those of Barcelona residents, part of which would be what she called a “saturation limit”.

“We have to put a moratorium in place regarding new hotels and tourist apartments, carry out a census and create a preventive policy before things get out of hand, as has occurred in Ciutat Vella,” Colau said, referring to the city’s old quarter, which has become extremely popular with groups of young tourists staying in rental apartments.

The growing attraction of Barcelona as a city-break destination and increasingly frequent incidents of rowdy behaviour has caused a backlash among residents of the city’s central districts.

In August, a photograph of three young men, reportedly Italian tourists, running naked through the streets of the traditionally working-class Barceloneta district reflected many locals’ desperation at an uncontrolled tourism boom fuelled by unlicensed rental flats.

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