A record tourism year may be a boost for Spain's struggling
economy, but in one corner of Barcelona residents are furious
about drunken holidaymakers and a new fad for carousing naked
People of La Barceloneta, tucked behind a beachfront which
attracts millions of visitors a year, have taken to the
streets several days in a row to protest against a rise in
unruly tourism and to demand more control over low-cost
The marches come after complaints of raucous late-night
partying, increasing litter and drunken antics like the fad
for nudity around town, captured by residents in photos
published in national newspapers.
Barcelona's city hall on Friday (local time) said it would
create new inspection teams to carry out door-to-door
searches in the neighbourhood to locate illegal tourist
flats, which residents blame for anti-social tourism.
"We don't want tourist flats in the neighbourhood, with or
without licences," read a statement on the Facebook page used
by locals to organise the latest protest on August 21.
The city government said it was sending a council member to
meet residents on Friday and promised more police in the area
and a phone bank to take complaints.
Barcelona, in the northeastern Catalonia region, has already
had a crackdown on home rental websites for marketing illegal
short-term room lets, fining Airbnb over the practice in
Residents of La Barceloneta, once a small fishing village,
have been draping their balconies with banners calling on
visitors to respect their sleep and the neighbourhood for
The number of international tourists to visit Catalonia - the
most visited region in Spain - rose nearly 6 percent to 9.3
million in the first seven months of the year compared with
2013, data from the Industry Ministry showed on Friday.
Across Spain, there were 7 percent more foreign visitors
compared with January-July in 2013, which was a record year
for tourism - broadly welcomed by the country as it emerges
from a deep recession. The sector accounts for roughly 10
percent of the economy.
But hotel stays by foreign tourists in July were down 1.8
percent, according to a National Statistics Institute report.
"Tourists want to cut costs and there is growing demand for
alternative accommodation," said Josep-Francesc Valls, a
marketing professor at the Esade business school.
Better controls and taxation of tourist flats would help end
"drunken tourism", he added. "This degrading type of tourism
has to be stopped." (Additional reporting by Robert Hetz in
Madrid, Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Elisabeth O'Leary
and Andrew Roche)