17 May, 2024 @ 11:40
1 min read

‘This is fascism!’: British expat fury after anti-tourism activists in Spain demand a ‘list of foreign residents’ who are ‘alien’ to local culture

The Catalan city of Girona is popular with British tourists

BRITISH expats have vented their anger after an activist group called on the local council of a popular Spanish city to create ‘a list of foreign residents’ who live in the area in an attempt to dissuade tourism.

One user said that the idea ‘sounds a bit fascist to me’, whilst another labelled the proposal as an example of ‘far right nationalism’ with ‘populism taking a hold even in traditionally left-leaning liberal areas’.

The demand was made on Thursday morning by the ‘Platform for the reduction of tourists in Girona’, an activist group formed by local residents who are calling for a reduction of tourist activity in the medieval walled city, located 100 km northeast of Barcelona in Catalunya.

One expat, in a post on X, described the newly-formed band of activists as a ‘small group of far-right anarchists who don’t want to pay rent and don’t have jobs’.

As part of their manifesto, the group are calling on Girona’s local council to create a census of foreign residents, whom their spokesperson, Jordi Mateu, described as ‘alien’ to local culture and the neighbourhoods they live in during a midweek press conference.

The group also proposes that the local council increase the number of patrols searching for illegal tourist apartments within the city. 

The activists said: “Tourism erodes resources and territory, exacerbating the climate crisis and destroying local cultures, faced above all with contempt for language”.

READ MORE: British expats become targets of anti-tourism movement in Spain: Outrage as locals call for a ‘list of foreign residents’

A ‘guiris go home’ sticker in Valencia, one of many tourist hotspots to have experienced a wave of anti-tourist activity this year.

One user said in a tweet that he would ‘scratch Girona from my list of places to visit’ because ‘show me your papers is not my idea of a good time’.

Other expats have vowed to boycott the city if the council follows through on the demands of the anti-tourism extremists.

Known as the ‘City of the Four Rivers’, Girona is popular amongst visitors for its historic quarter dominated by medieval buildings and Roman, Arab and Hebrew influences.

In 2022, over 8.4 million tourists visited the historic city, generating 26.4 million overnight stays.

The announcement of the group’s manifesto coincides with the Temps de Flor, a popular festival celebrated in Girona between May 11 and May 19 which sees the city’s monuments adorned with a bright, colourful array of flowers to celebrate the impending arrival of summer – in 2021, over 200,000 visitors attended the event.

Girona is the latest tourist hotspot in Spain to be struck by a wave of anti-tourist activism from locals.

Protests have taken place in Barcelona, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Island and Malaga, with locals growing frustrated over housing being prioritised for tourist apartments, for example through the short-term rental portal Airbnb, rather than permanent residences for local citizens.

Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to [email protected]

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