People, Travel

Spain Buckling Under Anti-Tourism Pressure

Spain Buckling Under Anti-Tourism PressureSpain Buckling Under Anti-Tourism Pressure

Already plagued by long security queues at airports, holidaymakers visiting top destinations in Spain face more vacation woes once they arrive.

Anti-tourism activists have been targeting Barcelona, as well as Majorca, Valencia and San Sebastian with protests–some of them accompanied by violence.

The goal seems to be to rail against the negative impact of mass tourism on local life and living standards, The Independent reported.

In Barcelona, which welcomes some 32 million visitors annually, a sightseeing bus was attacked at the end of July as it arrived at FC Barcelona’s iconic Nou Camp stadium. Masked assailants slashed the tires and daubed graffiti on the sides of the bus.

They sprayed the message (in Catalan) “tourism kills neighborhoods” in orange paint on the windscreen. Passengers, including several Britons, said they initially thought they were under attack from terrorists. Elsewhere in the city, bicycles rented out to tourists have been vandalized and rendered unusable.

Days earlier, a group of around 20 anti-tourism activists brandishing flares and placards burst into the popular Mar de Nudos restaurant in Palma, the capital of holiday island Majorca. They showered the mainly foreign customers with confetti, before staging a smoke-filled protest next to luxury yachts moored in the marina.

A survey commissioned by Barcelona council found that locals consider tourism to be the city’s second most pressing problem, after unemployment. It is a view shared by Barcelona’s leftist mayor, Ada Colau, who was criticized last week for not denouncing the tourism bus attack immediately.

Spain is the world’s third most visited country. Last year, it posted a record of 75 million tourists, nearly 17 million of them British.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the total contribution of travel and tourism to Spain’s economy in 2016 was €158.9 billion, or 14.2% of GDP. That figure is expected to rise by nearly 4% by the end of 2017. The sector accounts for an estimated 2.7 million direct and indirect jobs in the country.

However, the picture isn’t entirely positive. Luxury hotels have been built in Lanzarote, for example, without planning permission. They did come with juicy backhanders for mayors, though.

 In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, developers bought up cheap tracts of land on the eve of the announcement of a major beach development after colluding with local officials. The land was promptly sold off to the council for the flagship regeneration project at a massively inflated price. Culprits on both sides of that particular scandal were sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints