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Barcelona Bans New Hotels in City Centre

The mayor of Barcelona on Friday banned the opening of new hotels in the saturated city centre, to end the flow of locals out of the area due to pressure on housing from the tourism sector.

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:January 28, 2017, 1:22 PM IST
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Barcelona Bans New Hotels in City Centre
In some parts of Barcelona one can count more tourists than locals. ©venakr / Istock.com
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The mayor of Barcelona on Friday banned the opening of new hotels in the saturated city centre, to end the flow of locals out of the area due to pressure on housing from the tourism sector.

The new initiative is part of a broader urban planning scheme for Spain's second city, which is one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations.

The Catalan municipality, led by leftist mayor Ada Colau, took the measure "to begin to regulate tourism", local official Janet Sanz explained.

A city which attracts tourists in large numbers is only a problem "in as much as it detrimentally affects the residents," Sanz said.

Colau, a former anti-eviction activist who became mayor in 2015, has long signalled that the right to housing is one of her priorities and has vowed to build 8,000 new social housing flats.

She has already begun to crack down, through fines, on the proliferation of unlicensed tourist accommodation in the city, often accessed through websites such as Airbnb and Homeaway.

Last year Barcelona, a city of 1.6 million inhabitants, received 30 million tourists from around the world, according to the municipality.

Tourism accounts for around 13 percent of the city's economy. But it also contributes to high rent increases, crowded public spaces and night-time disturbances.

In some parts of the city there are more tourists than locals.

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