Last updated: 02:22 PM ET, Mon June 08 2015

Barcelona Mayor-Elect: Tourists Are Ruining Our City

Destination & Tourism | Patrick Clarke | June 08, 2015

Barcelona Mayor-Elect: Tourists Are Ruining Our City

PHOTO: Barcelona mayor-elect Ada Colau Ballano (photo via Wikipedia)

While Barcelona benefits immensely from booming tourism, not everyone is thrilled that the popular European destination has become the continent's third-most visited behind London and Paris.

According to Carol Matlack of Bloomberg Business, you can add Barcelona Mayor-elect Ada Colau Ballano to that list.

Ballano is concered that the surge in tourists is negatively impacting the quality of life for the city's 1.7 million residents, some of whom are complaining about litter, noise and rising real estate prices. 

On the flip side, nearly $14 billion in annual visitor spending supports an estimated 100,000 jobs in Barcelona. 

Barcelona officials have already put policies into effect designed to lessen the impact felt by the 7.6 million people expected to visit the city in 2015. Recently, Barcelona imposed hour restrictions at the La Boquería Market to curb tourists. 

Other local attractions with imposed time restrictions include the La Sagrada Familia Cathedral and Parc Guell. 

But Ballano could potentially take the efforts a step further. 

"Such actions might include curbs on cruise-ship arrivals, tougher regulation of short-term apartment rentals, and restrictions on retail activity—for example, banning souvenir sales inside La Boqueria market," writes Matlack. 

For perspective, Barcelona's cruise-ship port is the largest in Europe and hosts more than 2.5 million passengers each year.

Meanwhile, Ballano has said that she plans to limit the number of new hotel rooms and short-term rentals in Barcelona moving forward. And she took a dig at a classic tourist spot in the process.

"If we don’t want to end up like Venice, we will have to put some kind of limit in Barcelona," she told the newspaper El Pais. Venice's population has fallen by two-thirds over the last 50 years, going from 180,000 in the 1960s to 60,000 today, as the number of tourists continues to rise over 2 million per year.

"We need to create a tourism plan thinking about local residents," she said.

Nonetheless, it remains to be seen what proposed policies will come to fruition and whether they will have the desired impact. 

"You can't remove tourism. You can't build another Sagrada Familia and put it somewhere else." said NHTV Breda University professor and Barcelona tourism expert Greg Richards via Matlack. "People who are bothered by having hordes of tourists around will probably move away to other neighborhoods."

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