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Barcelona mayor vows to close illegal holiday flats

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Barcelona mayor vows to close illegal holiday flats
Locals in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Barceloneta are calling for all tourist apartments in the area to be closed. Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona: Shutterstock
17:50 CEST+02:00
The mayor of Barcelona has vowed to "get tough" on people who rent out illegal tourist apartments in the city's Barceloneta neighbourhood after demonstrations by locals against the unruly behaviour of tourists.

"We're going to make things tough for people who cheat with apartments," under-pressure Barcelona mayor Xavier Trias told Catalan radio station RAC1.

Trias added he would on Wednesday sign papers that would see 24 illegal holiday apartments in Barceloneta closed for business, while another 33 apartments faced the chop shortly, Spain's 20 minutos newspaper reported.

The mayor's comments come hot on the heels of a series of protests against drunken tourists in the seaside of Barceloneta, a problem locals believe has been brought on the burgeoning number of holiday apartments in the area.

READ ALSO: Is tourism destroying Barcelona?

Locals estimate the total number of these flats at around 800, with apartment rental website Airb listing up to 477 apartments in Barceloneta, up to seven times more than those that are officially registered at Barcelona’s Town Hall.

Tourists in the neighbourhood disrespect locals with behaviour including keeping people awake with all-night parties and throwing rubbish out of windows, Barceloneta resident Vicenç Forner told The Local recently.   

During his interview, Trias said he would meet with local councillor Mercé Homs once a month to analyze the situation.

More critically, he also promised to shut down all illegal apartments in the neighbourhood.

This is unlikely to appease the many locals who are calling for all tourist apartments to be closed, both illegal and legal. They also want a police station set up in Barceloneta to put a stop to some of the wilder excesses of tourists. 

But while Trias admitted to RAC1 that some tourists came to Barcelona with the attitude that "anything goes", he stated the operators of "many tourist apartments were doing a job".

On Tuesday, Spain's El País newspaper reported that not a single illegal apartment had been shut down in Barceloneta this year to date.

Some 33 apartment owners had, however, been hit with fines of up to €30,000 ($40,000), while a further 113 cases were still open.       

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