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Being a Tourist In 'Anti-tourist' Spain

Contrary to the reports suggesting that locals vent their frustration by pasting anti-tourists stickers on lampposts, taking out demonstrations and at times, even throwing buckets full of water on tourists, my journey through not just Barcelona, but other parts of Spain was spotless.

Aashna Harjani | News18.com

Updated:September 14, 2017, 12:12 PM IST
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Being a Tourist In 'Anti-tourist' Spain
Image: REUTERS/Sergio Perez
‘Tourism kills neighbourhoods’ read a graffiti daubed on a tourist bus soon after it was attacked by a group of people in Barcelona in July. The Catalan capital with its outlandish architecture and thriving nightlife draws nearly 32 million visitors a year. It is the locals who, however, bear the brunt of this influx as they have increasingly started feeling alienated in their own city. For them, basics like navigating the city is a problem as tourists come in hordes and literally take over public transport. The bigger problem, however, for them is the soaring housing and rent prices. Most locals prefer renting out their apartments to tourists over other locals as one of them pointed out they can make up to five times more money through tourists.

As reports suggested, locals vent their frustration by pasting anti-tourists stickers on lampposts, taking out demonstrations and at times, even throwing buckets full of water on tourists. Contrary to these reports, my journey through not just Barcelona, but through other parts of Spain was spotless.




The locals (whom I came across) far from hurling abuses were more than welcoming. Not once did I feel any hostility from them. The reason could perhaps be as my tour guide Edward pointed out that the locals had toned down the anti-tourist rhetoric after the Las Ramblas attack. He said, "It was tourists who were targeted in the attack, there is a great possibility that the anger has mellowed because of it."

While the anger seemed to have only subsided in Barcelona, a bunch of people I came across in Valencia was completely at odds with the ones I met in Barcelona. Vincete, a resident of Valencia, said, "I don't think tourism is having a negative impact on our lives. I like tourists. They give us work. Without tourists, I would have no work."

Desi, who has been working in Spain for the past 10 years, rubbished reports of protests and demonstrations due to tourism and said," Tourism is helping the economy. More tourism would mean better GDP for us."

The sentiment was not-so-overt in the holiday island of Palma De Mallorca either. From all the places I visited in Mallorca, it was only at the entrance of the Bellver Castle that I saw a scribbling that said 'tourists go home'.

The Spanish government has taken cognizance of the local people's sentiments and to appease the people it recently passed a law to cap the number of beds in Airbnbs. They have also introduced a complaint number where people can report any illegal Airbnbs.

So in case, you are headed to Spain, don't fear the locals they are only as nice as you are to them.

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