“Early last year, around 150,000 people in Barcelona marched to demand that the Spanish government allow more refugees into the country. Shortly afterwards, “Tourists go home, refugees welcome” started appearing on the city’s walls; soon the city was inundated with protestors marching behind the slogans “Barcelona is not for sale” and “We will not be driven out”.”
“Is it really the case that Barcelona would prefer to receive thousands of penniless immigrants rather than the millions of tourists who last year spent around €30bn in the city? The short answer, it appears, is yes.”
What do they put in the water over there?
“Immigration has changed the city, but tourism is destabilising it – and even people in the industry agree that it can’t go on like this. In 1990 the city received 1.7 million tourists; last year the figure was 32 million – roughly 20 times the resident population. The sheer volume of visitors is driving up rents, pushing residents out of neighbourhoods, and overwhelming the public space.”
What does Barcelona have then, if not tourism?
“Her colleague Santi Ibarra argues that the diversity that comes with immigration enhances the city – but tourism contributes nothing positive.”
I note she doesn’t elaborate on how. Funny how they are unable to articulate that, isn’t it?
“The real issue is the pressure on public space which is not designed to cope with the volume of visitors. Tourists occupy bars and restaurants that were once popular among locals, they saturate public transport and clog pavements, and use far more resources such as water than locals.
Residents say the sensation is of being under occupation. It’s this that gives Barcelonans the sense of displacement, that their city and its identity are being stolen from them, making them little more than extras on the set of their own city – a sensation that not even large-scale immigration has provoked.”
Utter madness! We are witnessing the death of a once-proud city.