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When does tourism become “too much”?

Learning about the history of the particular area you’re living in is indefinitely vital to appreciating your surroundings. However I think that it is just as important to delve into the current nuances and triumphs of that area as well. Recently I learned about the debate of tourism that has been occurring within the city of Barcelona. With a record of 7.6 million tourists this year, it is no wonder that this has become the subject of debate.

Here are some things that I have learned while researching about tourism in Barcelona; imagine your favorite place to take a stroll in, or your go-to place to buy fresh produce, has suddenly become upsurged with hoards of unfamiliar faces. Las Ramblas and La Boqueria were once places where locals loved to take relaxing strolls with friends, and chat with their neighbors before purchasing affordable produce. Nowadays, Las Ramblas and La Boqueria have become overcrowded with tourists, with local shops driven out of business, and souvenir shops and bars geared towards tourists replacing these native businesses.

Currently there are approximately 100,00 jobs that are geared towards tourism, making up 12% of Catalonia’s GDP. This goes to show the importance of tourism within Barcelona’s economy, but the debate continues with the heightened discomfort of locals; with their homes increasingly saturated with foreigners, and the charm of Barcelona being diluted by global tourism.

The current Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau Ballano, has initiated plans to “place a moratorium on approving new hotel rooms and short-term rentals.” Part of this is to prevent the ongoing partying and noise-levels that local inhabitants have to deal with when young and rowdy tourists begin to occupy spaces within local’s buildings.

As someone who loves traveling, this has helped me to become more conscious of my actions when visiting areas – notably becoming more keenly aware of my personal voice-level, being more respectful of my surroundings and by doing my best to help preserve the long-standing cultures of said places. If you want to learn more about this ongoing debate, here’s a link to an informative documentary, by the name of Bye Bye Barcelona (don’t worry, there are subtitles).

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Video Bye Bye Barcelona about issues with tourism numbers