MUNICIPAL POLITICS

Madrid mayor rejects idea of freeze on tourist accommodation licenses

Manuela Carmena will not be following example of Barcelona opposite Ada Colau Licenses for hotels in the Catalan capital have been suspended due to overcrowding

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena, pictured on Thursday.
Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena, pictured on Thursday.Zipi / EFE

The new mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, of leftist party Ahora Madrid, has decided not to follow in the footsteps of Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, and will not be freezing the granting of licenses for tourism accomodation.

Colau – who, like Carmena, came to power with a party that emerged from popular protest movements – took the decision to freeze licenses for projects such as hotels shortly after taking City Hall. Barcelona’s popularity as a tourist destination is leading to complaints from residents due to the perceived overcrowding of the city. “The idea is that there are no ghettos, and that certain areas don’t end up like theme parks,” she has said of her plan.

Carmena, however, who took City Hall on the back of an anti-corruption, anti-austerity campaign, is taking a different approach. “We want to relaunch tourism [in Madrid],” she said.

Speaking at a business breakfast at the Hotel Ritz in the Spanish capital, Carmena explained that she was not against apartment hire through online sites such as Airbnb, which have raised the ire of traditional hotels and hostels due to laxer regulation. “Private initiative should never be smothered,” Carmena said of the websites, but she made clear that they would have to be subject to proper tax regimes.

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Carmena went on to say that she wanted to build “a city of museums,” that is not just focused on the center of the city, but that also counts on new attractions in areas such as the El Capricho Palace, located in the Barajas district near the airport.

But to achieve these objectives, she added, the city needs to give more information to visitors about what’s on offer. “Madrid is not selling itself well at all,” the mayor explained.

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