A growing number of Barcelona residents call for limits on tourism

Some 86.7% of Barcelona residents consider tourism is beneficial for the city, but according to the study on tourist activity in 2016 the percentage of detractors continues to grow (48.9%) surpassing for the first time those in favour of attracting more tourism (47.5%). Neighbourhoods with the most tourist activity are those which feel they have reached saturation point.

Although very positive, residents’ perception of whether tourism is beneficial for the city has fallen nearly five points compared to the figure for 2015, when it stood at 91.5%, coming out at pre-2007 levels. Ciutat Vella, at 65%, is the district which is most reticent when it comes to increasing the volume of tourists, followed by the districts of L’Eixample, Sarrià – Sant Gervasi and Gràcia. Nou Barris, at less than 40%, is where the greatest number of local residents feel tourism should continue to be developed.

In terms of the impact of tourism on prices in the neighbourhoods, in the Gothic quarter and the Barceloneta neighbourhoods over 80% of residents feel that prices have gone up, followed by nearly 70% of residents in the neighbourhoods of Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i La Ribera, Gràcia and Sagrada Família. The city average is 31.9%.

The Councillor for Employment, Business and Tourism, Agustí Colom, considers the results show “a need to diminish the negative impact generated by tourism in the city”. Colom added: “We have to carry on working within the framework of the Strategic Tourism Plan 2020 to minimise the negative effects and to be able to make the most of the good things generated, particularly in terms of wealth and employment”.

Colom explained that work is being done to ensure citizens benefit from the tourist tax, such as the recent funding to expand network bus services in the summer and other action envisaged. Some 43.9% of Barcelona residents rate municipal management of tourism positively, the best results coming from the neighbourhoods with the most tourism.

Good ratings from visitors

The report, which will be presented on 18 April at the Commission for Economy and Treasury, also shows that tourists rate the city highly (8.7) and value its architecture, culture, entertainment and restaurants. On a negative note, visitors feel prices are too high in relation to quality, and that there is overcrowding at tourist areas and monuments.

In 2016, overnight stays in the city’s hotels rose by 5.5% to 19.5 million, the number of passengers at the airport rose by 11.2% (44.1 million) and cruise ship passengers arriving in the port by 5.6% (2.6 million). The city’s range of establishments offering tourist accommodation consisted of tourist lets (92%), representing 40% of beds on offer; hotels (7%), representing 50% of beds, and hostels (1%).