BARCELONA, SPAIN - (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)BARCELONA, SPAIN - (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Swathes of European cities join anti-tourism movement as local anger rises

Not everyone loves cheaper travel and ease of movement like tourists do

Living in a tourist hotspot can make everyday life much harder.

Crowded streets and roads, higher costs of living, and anti-social behaviour are just some of the adverse knock-on effects, and are the reasons why European cities are increasingly fighting back against the tourism industry.

Although yearly visitors inject large sums of money into the economy, residents of popular destinations have been leading an anti-tourist movement to combat uncontrollable movements of people. In Spain alone, a record 75.6 million tourists visited the European country in 2016.

Barcelona has been leading the charge against an explosion of tourism since the inception of sites like Airbnb, and unfettered surges in tourist numbers. Just walk down Las Ramblas, in the city centre, and it’s not hard to see why locals are irked by growing numbers of holidaymakers.

Tensions have been on the rise for some years in the Catalonian capital, leading to sometimes violent protests against tourist infrastructure. Arran, the youth wing of the insurgent CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy), have been filmed slashing the tyres of a tour bus and tourist bicycles.

VENICE, ITALY - (Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

VENICE, ITALY – (Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

An Arran spokesperson told the BBC: ‘Today’s model of tourism expels people from their neighbourhoods and harms the environment.’ Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has described the group as ‘extremists’.

Other countries, namely Italy and Croatia, have witnessed a similar wave of anti-tourist sentiment. Last month, 2,000 fed-up Venice residents took to the streets in anger, voicing their dismay about rising rent prices due to tourism and the damaging effect cruise ship pollution has on the environment.

In Dubrovnik, where cruise ships transport thousands of tourists, cameras have been introduced by the mayor to monitor the number of visitors in the old town, so the number can be stopped if too many enter.

World Tourism Organisation secretary general, Taleb Rifai, told The Guardian that anti-tourist sentiment is ‘a very serious situation that needs to be addressed in a serious way’. If managed correctly, he added, tourism can be the ‘best ally’ to conservation, preservation and the community.

‘It should not be given up for the sake of mismanagement,’ he said. ‘Ensuring that tourism is an enriching experience for visitors and hosts alike demands strong, sustainable tourism policies, practices and the engagement of national as well as local governments and administrations, private sector companies, local communities and tourists themselves.’


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