Barcelona Takes on Airbnb – The New York Times

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Forty several years ago, Barcelona wasn’t substantial on most tourists’ lists of have to-see towns in Europe. But that altered following the city hosted the Summertime Olympics in 1992: An huge community financial investment in beautifying the city coincided with a prime spot on the world-wide stage. A new “destination” was born.

Attracted by the city’s museums, dining establishments, architecture and Mediterranean shoreline, tourists arrived from throughout Europe and all over the world. By 2019, Barcelona — a city of about 1.6 million — registered around 21.3 million overnight stays, far more than double the figure from 2005. And that’s not even counting the a lot more than 3 million cruise ship passengers who handed through the city’s port that year.

When Airbnb arrived in 2009, Barcelona experienced no specific polices governing private rentals to visitors, but desire in the services was obvious: By the middle of 2016, there were some 20,000 listings of both personal rooms and total flats in Airbnb’s Barcelona segment, in accordance to knowledge from Within Airbnb, which tracks listings in towns all over the planet. The hosts in Barcelona had been operating in a kind of “gray market” in these early yrs of expansion: It wasn’t explicitly authorized, nor was it plainly forbidden.

But as tourist figures grew, so, way too, did the sense amid lots of in Barcelona that the town was nearing its potential for people. In the summer time of 2014, anti-tourism protests erupted in the Barceloneta neighborhood, in which locals had developed pissed off with the noise and raucous behavior of site visitors who had come to bash. Anti-tourism graffiti sprouted up, in some cases in popular vacationer places, and in 2017, a team of still left-wing activists vandalized an open-best bus filled with tourists. Quite a few inhabitants — as nicely as some at City Hall — pointed the finger at Airbnb.

“For a lengthy time, tourism was found as absolutely nothing but a constructive matter for the metropolis, but now we’re starting off to really feel all of the impacts,” reported Mar Santamaría Varas, a Barcelona-primarily based architect and co-founder of 300.000 Km/s, an urban scheduling agency. With regard to vacationer accommodation, she additional that her assessment has revealed three primary troubles: gentrification, crowding in community areas, and the disappearance of corner merchants and other vendors that are crucial for inhabitants.

Airbnb maintains that non-public space rentals have tiny to no affect on the availability of regional housing, as persons who lease out non-public rooms stay in the very same home. But a review revealed previous yr in the Journal of Urban Economics uncovered that Airbnb activity in Barcelona has elevated rents by 7 percent and housing prices by 17 per cent in the neighborhoods that have the maximum amounts of exercise on the system. In the normal community, the consequences were being a 1.9 % increase in lease and a 4.6 % increase in housing cost.

The 2015 election of Ada Colau as Barcelona’s mayor marked a turning position in the city’s partnership with tourism, ushering in the first actual initiatives to regulate short-time period rentals. By now well known in Spain for her operate fighting housing evictions, the left-wing Ms. Colau took a substantially more difficult line on tourism than her predecessor. Beneath her management, Town Corridor enacted a moratorium on new tourist licenses for full-apartment rentals launched a key crackdown on illegal condominium listings banned the building of new motels in the city middle and released community-unique regulations to control the institution of memento stores and other corporations that cater to vacationers.