Anti-tourist feeling in Spain

By | Category: Travel news


There were widespread newspaper reports last week about violence outbursts against British tourists and an outburst that tourists would be targeted by anarchists. In truth it was against all tourists not just the British but, because so many Brits visit Spain and are responsible for a huge slice of Spanish tourist revenue, it would have been surprising if there were no Brits around.

Should we pay much attention to either of these stories?

There were demonstrations against tourists in Barcelona, Valencia and some of the Balearic islands last week or so. It is all about the fact that we are tourists and the feeling held by one group called Arran that some places were becoming overcrowded. Tourists were the reason they argued. They also said that housing was unaffordable by locals, the reason being that buildings were held for overseas visitors who would pay more than locals could.

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has described the group as ‘extremists.’ Arran is a youth oriented organisation that was formed about five years ago primarily to help gain Catalan independence. I suppose they see tourists as a useful scapegoat to try and drum up support for a group that doesn’t seem very large except when they harness popular feeling about a particular issue. And since tourists overwhelm some places like Barcelona and locals rent out – often unofficially – residences for holiday lets, there is less accommodation for those on lower wages.

Given that tourism overcrowding is partly due to lax planning controls, Arran’s attacks on tourists seems a little unfair. The suggestion by the media that is a bigger problem that it seems to be hasn’t helped instil confidence in travellers planning to pass through Barcelona. And if it is all about Catalan independence why are there demonstrations in Mallorca?

It would seem that tourists in certain destinations will have to put up with this annoyance which isn’t anti-British just anti-tourist.

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