Monday, May 29, 2023
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Manuel Fernando González. Journalist

All the locals know, including the current city government, that tourism in the city accounts for 14% of GDP, at the time that we are immersed in a serious crisis and without unemployment having come down to reasonable levels. Latest figures show that unemployment has risen in Barcelona another 4,736, bringing the total to 382,717 unemployed officially counted, which is not the real figure, far from it, since many of those who cannot find work do not appear in any official or unofficial list. As we might easily suppose, the figure is not a minor issue, rather the opposite.

Yet despite such bad statistics, the municipal government led by the Mayoress Ada Colau decided in the full heat of the summer to suspend hotel licenses that were being processed and return all full circle to the beginning "to reflect on the tourism model" leaving everyone gaping, not only the entrepreneurs, but above all, and most seriously, international investors who decided to gamble their money betting on several multimillion-dollar projects, the most evident including the American group Emin Capital, which had acquired property rights to the iconic Torre Agbar, previously abandoned by Aguas de Barcelona, in which they planned to build a hotel for rich managed by the Hyatt Group, and who, according to experts in tourism, are specialists in this type of visitors looking eagerly for all Mayors of the world's major capitals.

The reasons given by Colau's team put the emphasis on " problems of coexistence, impaired social and economic fabric of entire neighbourhoods and the trivialization or saturation of the urban landscape." Let's see: the political group that won in Barcelona had suddenly launched a populist attack, comparing, as we say in countryside slang, apples with oranges, without stopping to consider that one thing is to protect the endangered ruc catalá (Catalonian donkey cross), and another, perfectly compatible with the above, is to own a thoroughbred which can compete in the Grand National and win the grand prize and the prestige and admiration of half the world.

The social networks got red hot

The social networks began to catch fire immediately on hearing the news. The Mayoress's many followers, who had become strong on the Internet on the back of evictions, could not prevent "other" citizens also pronouncing on this subject leaving messages that they refuse to get lost in oblivion, since It was not just a matter of majorities, but, above all, common sense.

Actually, a unpretentious reader of one of the newspapers sold in the city left a comment with some common sense at the news, a reflection that is very easy to take in for most people: "The hotels in the centre are often the most expensive in all cities all over the world (in the same way that you pay significantly more for being in the centre). If the licenses are stopped, their price will be even higher, and they will stop increasing the number of beds available, at least for a while. Of course, some will divert their investments to neighbouring towns. The consequence: the problem Colau aims to solve will not be solved, as tourists will continue to visit Barcelona, but now staying in the metropolitan area and to which problem another will be added: that tourists now staying outside the city will further clog train and road access. Yes, maybe more rental cars will be hired and centre car parks will be fuller, but if so, Barcelona will have more traffic jams ".

Another reader, this time from Madrid, put the emphasis on the construction of several such establishments near railway stations, which currently often host an authentic crowd of Japanese tourists, who take the train at eight in the morning and return in the train last night, limiting spending to the bare minimum and invading massively, in this case the state capital, with thousands of visitors, killing off the Barcelona Mayoress's idea of redistributing the wealth that tourism brings among the city's 73 neighbourhoods, as her team argued during a press conference at which the controversial decree suspending licenses was unveiled.



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