Barcelona Takes on Airbnb and Short-Term Rentals

Forty years in the past, Barcelona wasn’t excessive on most vacationers’ lists of must-see cities in Europe. However that modified after town hosted the Summer time Olympics in 1992: An infinite public funding in beautifying town coincided with a main spot on the worldwide stage. A brand new “vacation spot” was born.

Attracted by town’s museums, eating places, structure and Mediterranean shoreline, vacationers arrived from throughout Europe and world wide. By 2019, Barcelona — a metropolis of about 1.6 million — registered over 21.3 million overnight stays, greater than double the determine from 2005. And that’s not even counting the greater than three million cruise ship passengers who handed by way of town’s port that 12 months.

When Airbnb arrived in 2009, Barcelona had no particular laws governing personal leases to vacationers, however curiosity within the service was evident: By the center of 2016, there have been some 20,000 listings of each personal rooms and whole residences in Airbnb’s Barcelona part, in accordance with knowledge from Inside Airbnb, which tracks listings in cities world wide. The hosts in Barcelona had been working in a form of “grey market” in these early years of progress: It wasn’t explicitly authorized, nor was it clearly forbidden.

However as vacationer numbers grew, so, too, did the sense amongst many in Barcelona that town was nearing its capability for guests. In the summertime of 2014, anti-tourism protests erupted within the Barceloneta neighborhood, the place locals had grown pissed off with the noise and raucous conduct of holiday makers who had come to occasion. Anti-tourism graffiti sprouted up, generally in popular tourist spots, and in 2017, a gaggle of left-wing activists vandalized an open-top bus full of vacationers. Many residents — as well as some at City Hall — pointed the finger at Airbnb.

“For a very long time, tourism was seen as nothing however a optimistic factor for town, however now we’re beginning to really feel all the impacts,” stated Mar Santamaría Varas, a Barcelona-based architect and co-founder of 300.000 Km/s, an city planning company. With regard to vacationer lodging, she added that her evaluation has revealed three predominant issues: gentrification, crowding in public areas, and the disappearance of nook shops and different retailers which might be important for residents.

Airbnb maintains that non-public room leases have little to no affect on the supply of native housing, as individuals who lease out personal rooms dwell in the identical property. However a study printed final 12 months within the Journal of City Economics discovered that Airbnb exercise in Barcelona has elevated rents by 7 p.c and housing costs by 17 p.c within the neighborhoods which have the best ranges of exercise on the platform. Within the common neighborhood, the results had been a 1.9 p.c enhance in lease and a 4.6 p.c enhance in housing value.

The 2015 election of Ada Colau as Barcelona’s mayor marked a turning level within the metropolis’s relationship with tourism, ushering within the first actual efforts to control short-term leases. Already well-known in Spain for her work preventing housing evictions, the left-wing Ms. Colau took a a lot tougher line on tourism than her predecessor. Beneath her management, Metropolis Corridor enacted a moratorium on new vacationer licenses for entire-apartment leases; launched a serious crackdown on unlawful residence listings; banned the development of latest lodges within the metropolis heart; and launched neighborhood-specific guidelines to control the institution of memento outlets and different companies that cater to vacationers.

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