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Barcelona locals wage war on drunken tourists

Published: 21 Aug 2014 16:22 GMT+02:00

Barceloneta - just a stone’s throw away from beach, bars and Barrio Gótico – is experiencing similar tourism side effects to many other central neighbourhoods in the Catalan capital.

Alcohol-fuelled tourism is keeping locals awake at night, filling their streets with rubbish and exposing them to lewd and reckless behaviour.

“Police don’t know what to do about it anymore,” Vincenç Forner, a neighbour who took a photo of three Italian tourists running around naked in Barceloneta in broad daylight and who shared it on social media, told Spanish national daily El País.

“It wasn't a one-off. Tourists do whatever they want here.”

This photo of a group of tourists at a local supermarket in Barceloneta has been used by Spanish media to depict the problems in the neighbourhood. Image: Vicenç Forner

Many locals believe unregistered accommodation in Barceloneta is at the heart of the issue as hundreds of apartments with no soundproof facilities are being illegally rented out in normal residential areas.

"People in the neigbourhood are angry, there's a lot of frustration," Luis, a worker at local restaurant L'Òstia told The Local.

He said that a lot of cafés had closed their outdoor seating areas and there was definitely a greater police presence on the street.

The worker L'Òstia explained that 80 percent of their business was tourist traffic, but was keen to stress he believed the anger was directed at the owners of tourist apartments and not at tourists themselves. 

Apartment rental website AirBnB has up to 477 apartments in Barceloneta up for grabs, seven times more than those that are officially registered at Barcelona’s Town Hall.

Locals have pinpointed the so-called ‘pirate flats’ during neighbourhood meetings but the problem continues to grow, even more so during the summer months.

On Tuesday at 11.30 at night, their anger reached boiling point, spurring some neighbours to start a spontaneous street demo which called for an end to illegal accommodation and alcohol-fuelled tourism.

Up to 100 locals rushed down from their homes and joined in with the shouting, cutting off traffic as well as harassing tourists and holiday apartment letting agents.

Even though Barcelona authorities have announced they will speed up the registration process for holiday apartments in the city with the aim of completing the process “by the end of the year”, Barceloneta neighbours plan to stage another anti-tourism demo on Thursday night.  

According to their Facebook group "Not a single step backwards: I don't want tourists in my stairwell", 1,200 people have been invited to the protest. 

For more stories about Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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