The city of Barcelona passed a law on Friday to curb tourism as visitors have begun to overwhelm the city and anger local residents. Last year the city’s 1.6 million residents were heavily outnumbered by an estimated 32 million visitors, about half of them day-trippers. The new law comes after more than 25 years of relentless promotion of the city as a tourist destination, and coincides with a planned “occupation” on Saturday of La Rambla, a street that has come to symbolise what many view as the excessive and unsustainable number of tourists.
The occupation has been organised by the Barcelona Urban Neighbourhood Association, along with more than 40 residents and community associations. Under the slogan “Barcelona isn’t for sale” the protesters are calling for an end to property speculation, which is pricing residents out of the city, and to low-wage jobs in tourist service industries. “The tourist and restaurant sector is the worst paid in Barcelona,” says Martí Cusó, a member of one of the community groups, the Neighbourhood Assembly for Sustainable Tourism. “They earn half the average salary.”