Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona, has criticized attacks on the city’s tourist sector by radical groups protesting at what they consider to be the uncontrolled growth of the sector and the damage they believe it is causing to the city.
Recent days have seen an attack carried out against a tourist bus in the city, by an anarchist group known as “Arran”, which also released a video of members bursting into a restaurant, letting off fireworks and throwing confetti over diners.
Meanwhile last Friday (Aug. 4th) saw a different group known as Endavant publish images of members slashing the tires of tourist bicycles and also putting silicone into locks of establishments working with foreign visitors.
Colau, who has led a campaign to limit tourist numbers in the city by banning the building of new hotels and calling for tighter controls on the renting of flats to tourists, said the attacks “have been reported and will be investigated,” and that those behind them “will be brought to justice.”
However, she insisted that the attacks “are isolated and are not representative of the reality of Barcelona.”
“These actions are not shared by the council or by citizens,” commented Colau, adding that “it was one thing” to debate the model of tourism in Barcelona and “another to attack and scare people or to ruin property.”
“Let’s not magnify these incidents because that is what ends up in the international press,” continued the mayor, who in declarations published in the El Pais newspaper on Monday said that “fortunately, social coexistence is the norm.”
Spain welcomed over 75 million foreign tourists in 2016, 7.2 million more than the 68.1 million who visited the country in 2015 and in July the government confirming visitor numbers had risen by 12 percent in the first 6 months of 2017, leading to estimates that around 84 million tourists could come to Spain in the current year.
Although 2016 saw tourists contribute around 77 billion euros (91 billion U.S. dollars) to the Spanish economy (over 10 percent of GDP) and created 11 percent of the country’s jobs, there are very real worries that cities such as Barcelona and San Sebastian, where there have also been isolated incidents against the tourist infrastructure, simply cannot cope with any more visitors.
In Barcelona. there have been campaigns in recent years highlighting the noise and drunkenness of some visitors, while the fact that many properties are being purchases to rent to visitors rather than to locals has also been blamed for inflating property prices and forcing locals out of their own cities.