While many cities would welcome 32 million annual visitors, Barcelona has had quite enough of tourists, thank you very much. Though tourism represents 14% of the Spanish city's economy, a tourism plan presented by Mayor Ada Colau this week lays out measures meant to dissuade tourists from rubbing elbows with Barcelona's 1.6 million residents, reports Fast Company. The proposals include blocking licenses for new vacation rentals and taxing those that already exist at the highest property tax rate. The city also has banned hotel construction in the city center and is seeking permission to regulate room rentals at hostels, B&Bs, and other accommodations. There are even plans to increase parking fees for tourist buses.
Why are such measures necessary, according to city officials? For one, local businesses like dry cleaners and hardware stores are suffering as those catering to tourists are taking over. Jobs in these establishments are seasonal—a major issue given Spain's 43% unemployment rate for young people. Property prices and rental rates are increasing, to boot. "The number of tourist flats in the city is staggering … and has pushed long-term rental prices to stratospheric levels," one expert tells the Telegraph. All of this has spawned "anti-tourism groups," per NPR—and they aren't just on the fringe. In a 2016 survey, Barcelona residents named unemployment as the only issue of greater concern than the number of tourists. (Read more Barcelona stories.)