Barceloneta rebels against rowdy tourists

Catalan capital says it is working fast to deal with illegal vacation homes and antisocial behavior

Camilo S. Baquero
Three Italian tourists running around naked in Barceloneta on Friday.
Three Italian tourists running around naked in Barceloneta on Friday.VICENÇ FORNER

The photographs showing a group of Italian tourists running around naked on Joan de Borbó avenue, in Barcelona’s popular Barceloneta neighborhood, were taken a few days ago at 9am by a local resident.

“This is not a one-off. Tourists do whatever they want around here,” says the photographer, Vicenç Forner.

For three hours, the nudists strolled around the neighborhood and even walked into a local store without anybody saying anything about it. The municipal police did not make an appearance.

“The police don’t know what to do about these things anymore,” notes Forner.

This is driving away locals and  traditional tourists, who no longer want to come” Vicenç Forner, local resident

This was just the latest in a series of events that have long fueled complaints by the residents of Barceloneta about the excesses of tourists in the area.

On Sunday and Monday, locals took their protests to the streets to demand that authorities do something about it.

“Imagine being inside a small apartment with three kids, no job, no money to go away on vacation, and having to put up with the screaming and the partying of the tourists in the apartment next door. It is unbearable,” says Andrés Antebi, a resident of Barceloneta.

On Thursday, Barcelona council official Maite Fandos said that the city is working quickly to regulate the status of tourism accommodation “before the year is out.” She added that the council was “very concerned about this matter, which it has been working on for some time.”

But neighborhood associations say that little has been done in the years that they have been protesting. L’Ostia association has long complained about the drug-peddling and the illegal apartment rentals that are associated with tourism in the area. Residents have even been keeping their own record of illegal rentals, which number as many as 170 in Barceloneta alone.

“We are tired of low-cost tourism focused on binge drinking,” says Oriol Casavella.

“This is driving away the locals and traditional tourists, who no longer want to come here,” adds Forner.

According to Airbnb, a website that allows people to list and book vacation rentals in cities across the globe, there are as many as 477 listings available in Barceloneta, seven times more than those with legal permits to do so. Prices range from €45 to €100, and higher.

Opposition politicians have criticized the way Barcelona is handling tourism in the city. The Socialist mayoral candidate, Jaume Collboni, said that “what [Mayor] Xavier Trias needs to do is to resolve Barcelona’s problems, including its tourism model. The answer to this problem cannot be to bring in even more tourists.”

The city has announced that it will send more municipal police to Barceloneta to watch our for antisocial behavior and said in a release that “the neighbors are not alone.”

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