Barcelona, which has been not only in the forefront of tourism growth but also of beginning to feel overwhelmed by it, has approved a new plan to spread tourist housing around the city to reduce the impact on inner-city areas.
The measure will, the City Council hopes, reduce the impact of tourism in key areas, and also reduce the impact on affordable housing in the city. The plan will take effect in two years.
In the first zone, consisting of the 'Old Town' areas of the city, plus parts of the 19th-century Eixample and Poble-sec districts, no new tourist housing will be permitted, and any that close cannot be replaced.
In the second zone, which includes other areas of the Eixample, including Sagrada Familia and Pobleneu, no new accommodations can be added except as replacements for ones that close. In the third zone, further away from the center, new accommodations and expansion will be permitted, up to a certain density.
In effect, visitors will be distributed throughout the city (and may be surprised at how much there is to see away from the Ramblas!). Because the city has a dense Metro and bus network, the further-out accommodations will still have good access to all areas.
Barcelona's tourism boom has grown steadily since it hosted the 1992 Olympics; by 2005 the annual number of visitors has exceeded the 5-million-plus metropolitan area population and continues to grow, especially in the past six years.
Above: In Barcelona's Parc Guell, benches by Gaudi. Photo: PHeymont