BARCELONA is looking forward to welcoming back foreign holidaymakers but tourism should be carefully regulated to preserve the character of the city, mayoress Ada Colau said.
Catalonia is more dependent on foreign holidaymakers than many other Spanish region, except the Balearic and Canary Islands.
The region attracted more than 19 million visitors from overseas in 2019 but with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic this reduced to a trickle, decimating businesses and closing iconic restaurants forever.
Before the coronavirus crisis, Barcelona’s left-wing council brought in tough fines to stop residents renting rooms or apartments without licences to tourists in order to stop locals being priced out of the housing market.
Colau said Barcelona would welcome holidaymakers back but tourism must adapt to the city life.
“We were pioneers in regulating tourist flats in Barcelona. We cannot have more flats being rented out to tourists because this will harm local communities,” she said.
“We want to promote the city associated with sun and beach, for cultural activities, to attract talent and more local commercial activity. We want to create a texture and an equilibrium.”
Colau added: “We want the tourism to be regulated along with family and business activity.”
It came as about 300 residents of Barcelona have rebelled against the fines of up to €60,000 imposed by the council for renting rooms or properties without a council licence.
An association claims they have been caught in the crossfire between the council and Airbnb, the renting portal, say they have been punished for the row going on between both sides.
Barcelona city council fined Airbnb for renting out flats to tourists without licences.
Teresa Trullen who rented out her flat for a few days is now facing a fine of €60,000.
“Some people have asked the council to withdraw the fines while others agree to pay them if they are not so harsh,” Dylan Tarin, a lawyer for the group, told El Periodico newspaper.
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