Last year alone the price of rental properties in Barcelona rose by 16%. Locals blame the tourists, in particular, the rising price and attractiveness to make more money from using rental apartments for tourism. In Barcelona, you need to have a licence to advertise a property on Airbnb. There are thought to be around 17,000 tourist apartments, with over 6000 that have found to be illegal. The local council is taking some serious action to combat this in response to anger from locals.
“Local tourist beds are driving local residents out of their homes in this neighbourhood.” Says the brochure handed to me at the Barceloneta stand.
The City Council has inspectors working for them. The number of inspectors has recently doubled from 20 to 40. Their job is to come to your door and ask to see your contract, and if you are found to have an unlicensed listing you can be fined up to 60,000 Euros.
It seems like a drastic measure but it is evident throughout the streets of Barcelona that the locals are not going to move out of their barrios, they are going to stand up and fight back. Already a lot of locals who live out of town won’t come into certain areas of the city which are now deemed to be invaded by tourism.
Last week, Airbnb agreed, after some resistance, to take down the unlicensed listings. Their objection was that there are some people who make money off renting out their properties are residents who need the extra income. Over the last few years, Barcelona Council has fined Airbnb on numerous occasions.
It’s not only the accommodation and rental prices that are bugging locals, it’s it the type of tourism the city brings. Barcelona is known as a party city and just 5 minutes from our house the beach turns into a drunk mess between the hours of 11 am and 7 am in the summer months, leaving only a few hours to enjoy the beach.
They pee anywhere, create noise at all hours of the night, and have sex in public. A few weeks ago a video was put up on the internet of a couple performing a rather daring position on a park seat in Barceloneta. The shocking factor was that it was broad daylight.
In the mornings, before 8 am, there is rubbish everywhere and quite often vomit. An impressive clean-up is performed each day, the sand is swept by a truck at night and each morning a group of council workers cover the beach in pairs picking up rubbish. The streets also get hosed down in the morning. Ready for another round.
It seems that the economy of Barcelona city centre is strongly driven by tourism. Creating many jobs and bringing in a lot of money to the city. However, there is a downside – which could be remedied by being conscious travellers. Making sure we respect the local population and check we are booking legal accommodation, which you can do here.