10.1 Cities

Why are Barcelona residents weary of tourism? What are some of the challenges facing Mediterranean cities like Barcelona today?

9 thoughts on “10.1 Cities

  1. The residents of Barcelona are weary of tourist, as what they thought would be a good economic move, working with Airbnb, has transformed the city in to what tourist want Barcelona to be, not what it actually is. As the amount of Airbnb properties arise, the neighbors around them change. Instead of grocery stores, gyms, and daycares, there are expensive boutiques, and fancy coffee shops. In the article, it was noted that instead of seeing closing lines, you see little outdoor patio furniture on balconies. This has also altered the market for housing for locals as the Airbnb “rent a home” market can be and is more profitable. I think that there are challenges of keeping the “Mediterranean culture” as the invasion of Airbnb continues. Things like bakeries, fresh fruit street markets, some local restaurants, and daily life activities that define the streets of the Mediterranean are disappearing to conform to the “new (short term) locals.” Many locals might feel a threat that they are losing their city as this touristic world grows. I understand their frustration, as a student here in Athens, I have often saw or learned that it is not the students that cause the riot, it is the guest that visit. I like the quiet weekends and the more I am here, in Athens, the least I look forward to the eventful weekends.
    The question I have is: Do you think that a solution for this invasion of Airbnbs could be banning these rentals in some areas in order to keep the culture and lifestyle of the locals? How would these affect the areas that aren’t restricted to these rentals? Would this cause to much separation of what Barcelona is and what Barcelona is perceived to be?


  2. Today in Barcelona, as well as other places around the world, Airbnb has become extremely popular. People are selling their apartments to others who are eagerly trying to make money off of Airbnb, and because of this, rent in Barcelona is surging for the locals. In the Gothic corner, it is said that in the past twelve years, residential living has decline 45%. Raval was brought up at one point which is a neighborhood in Barcelona that typically has been a poorer place in the past. It has been full of drugs, crime, and prostitution. Airbnb is a quick way for people to make money, and with the surge of its use, Raval has become more of a tourist destination. This makes it difficult for people living here because it makes the neighborhood extremely noisy with people partying and drunk people wandering the streets. Other Mediterranean cities such as Giudecca in Venice and Jordaan in Amsterdam are feeling similar impacts. Their working class neighborhoods are now filled with boutiques and tourist attractions. Because of this, businesses that cater to locals are shutting down to make room for these new booming ones. Overall, throughout reading this article, I was wondering if Airbnb is an economic bubble? What would happen if this bubble burst? Also, is it possible that Fairbnb may completely out compete Airbnb? What problems could potentially come out of Fairbnb or is it really significantly more ethical?


  3. Why are Barcelona residents weary of tourism? What are some of the challenges facing Mediterranean cities like Barcelona today?

    Though they once welcomed tourists (and the revenue they bring) with open arms, the residents of Barcelona are beginning to resent the constant influx of visitors. They complain that tourists are often loud and indecent, and that the tourism industry, including Airbnb, has made the city culturally “like a theme park” and difficult for locals to live in. Areas frequented by tourists become gentrified, pushing out working class populations.
    Take for example the Raval neighborhood. It used to be a poor neighborhood, associated with drugs, sex work, and crime, but now it has become a fashionable location for tourists to stay. Consequently, property owners have found it more profitable to rent out apartments through services like Airbnb, which caused an increase in rent, which caused locals to sell their homes and move elsewhere. In a similarly chic neighborhood, the Gothic Quarter, the resident population has declined 45% in the past dozen years because of the rise in tourist apartments.
    Another change brought about by tourism which is driving out locals is the loss of ordinary businesses. Grocery stores, laundromats, all the businesses needed to live in a place long-term, are being replaced by boutiqes, bars, and upscale restaurants marketed towards tourists. Often, the restaurants don’t even serve dishes particular to Barcelona. It’s clear to see why Barcelonans might bear a grudge towards visitors.
    Barcelona’s problem is not unique. Other Mediterranean, and European, cities are also struggling to cope with an increase in tourism. The Venetian neighborhood of Giudecca is experiencing a similar transformation to the Raval, and the local government has responded to tourist mobs by installing gates to control the flow of crowds. Other companies try to solve the problem by offering alternatives: Fairbnb limits the amount of apartments that are offered, uses a rating system to give visitors an incentive to be well-behaved, and donates a portion of profits to charity. Many cities are struggling to find a balance where share their city without losing their culture and homes. One interviewee in Mead’s article, Mauro Bigi, summed it up: “We want to promote our city, not transform it.”

    My questions are: Would cutting down on the number of tourist rentals actually alleviate the problems brought up in the article? What other steps could a city take to achieving the balance mentioned above? Can you think of examples of tourist-control not mentioned in the article?


  4. In Barcelona, Spain, where art and agriculture attract millions of tourists per year which in turn brings money to the economy, it may be difficult to imagine why residence are weary of the increase in numbers. However, it is very apparent from the written work of Rebecca Mead titled, “The Airbnb Invasion of Barcelona”, that citizens are facing challenges as more and more outsiders come to reside their cosmopolitan city.

    Tourists traveling to Barcelona, according to Mead, are not typically coming to enjoy the culture of Barcelona. The tourists come to engage in rambunctious activities where they create an unsavory environment for residence. People stay up too late, make too much noise, and engage in destructive habits that no resident wants to see happen to their city. In an effort to make more money off of these incomers who are not looking for a dip into a cultural experience, producers sell items that portray a stereotypical Spanish getaway. Rather than selling unique goods and services from an authentic cosmopolitan city, tourists instead send their money on “theme park” souvenirs instead of purchasing items to help the individual producer of the city. Not only are individuals effected by this, but businesses as well. Restaurants and other shops change their food, drink, and lodging to better accommodate the outside spenders. Shops, in one instance, began installing WiFi to specifically cater to the tourism. Areas where it was normal for people to sit across from one another and enjoy a drink, are now bombarded by internet users focused on the screens. This high-paced atmosphere and its resulting purchases, however, would not be such an hindrance if not for where the tourists stay and engage in these activities. Tourists are commonly using Airbnb to find lodging in Barcelona. Airbnb takes spare rooms and spaces inside house and apartment residencies and uses them as areas for cheaper housing. By doing this, it creates a dangerous supply and demand that pushes for owners to operate more like hotels and even may push actual residence out of their spaces to make more housing available to a higher paying consumer. With more outside people continuously coming in, it pushes more people who call the area home, out. As a result of this, the culture that has developed, as well as the communities that built off one another, are deteriorating in favor of a touch and go society of many cultures pushing against each other.

    Thus, citizens have expressed in response their disdain for more Airbnb and tourism as it takes away the truly special parts of their culture that has been built up around them for centuries. As a takeaway question, the main thing that took my interest was a quote from an interviewed citizen named Quaglieri that stated, ““Anything that makes the area more ‘livable’ makes it also more interesting to outsiders. As a result, the local people say, ‘It’s better to do nothing'”. – I wonder why “doing nothing” seems to be an appropriate decision? I wonder, as it is difficult for an area to suddenly lose appeal as a tourist spot, what can be done to satisfy both the current residences and the incoming tourism.


  5. Residents of Barcelona are becoming overrun by tourists and they are not happy about it. Some neighborhoods used to be filled with local people, small businesses, and crime, are now overpopulated with drunk gringos, fancy coffee shops, and overpriced apartments. Originally, the idea of tourism is normally good. It boosts the economy and helps upscale certain aspects of a city. There has definitely been a boost to the economy because of tourism in Barcelona, but it has gone too far. Local people do not feel at home in their own home. They have even gone to the point of protesting about it. Unfortunately, this is not only occurring in Barcelona. Other cities in the Mediterranean are also being impacted by the boom. The clever application, Airbnb is a huge reason traveling has become even easier. The idea of Airbnb was to allow people to rent out rooms in their house. This would provide tourists with an immersive experience and give extra cash to local people. We now see Airbnb being run as a large business as people are not following the original idea. Because of this, cities are losing their true culture and changing to better host foreigners.

    Is Airbnb the biggest cause of this problem?


  6. Residents of Barcelona are weary of tourism because they have seen how much tourism has changed their city in recent years. Before the advent of Airbnb, residents were once able to enjoy life with nearby local amenities like markets and cinemas, a thriving housing market and an easy escape from major tourist attractions and areas. However, the line between tourist areas and residential areas have now become harder to distinguish between. Now that Airbnb has become a global presence, many apartment landlords have started listing their vacant apartment units online as vacation getaways, lowering the number of available residential spaces in the city. This in turn has also forced many resident to relocate and drove the cost of rent to go up in the city. Barcelona is not alone in their struggles. Residents in cities throughout the Mediterranean, like Venice and Bologna, have also seen similar issues arise with the proliferation of Airbnb in their local markets. This can clearly been seen in the dramatic drop in student housing in the city of Bologna. This struggle is fair reaching and needs immediate attention before these great cosmopolitain cities become empty shell of what they once were. Luckily there are new organizations, like Fairbnb, that are working to put more regulations on renters and keep the money in the local economy. Additionally, Airbnb has begun working will local governments to weed out any and all renters working illegally without any registration or permit.


  7. With Barcelona being such a popular city for tourists, the market in the city has changed to benefit tourists more than the locals. There are more business that are targeted towards tourists, like restaurants and boutiques, than there are business for locals to use in their everyday lives. It would be frustrating as a local to see things that make your city culturally unique be modified so it fits a tourists’ idea of what the city is, instead of portraying the real city. Like it was mentioned in the article, tourists who say they want to experience the city like locals do not really mean that. They most likely mean that they want to see stores or restaurants that are not overflowing with other tourists so they can feel like they had a unique experience. I think one of the biggest dangers of companies like Airbnb in Barcelona and other Mediterranean cities is that it can raise the cost of living in residential areas. If the prices of neighborhoods get too high due to the increase of apartments for tourists, the locals will be forced to move out and start somewhere else. Then the thing that made the neighborhoods so unique and a highly desired tourist attraction will all be gone, and there won’t be anything authentic left. I think in cities that are experiencing an overflow of tourists should keep a careful eye on the housing market and if locals can still afford to live in an area that is now designed for tourists. It is a difficult situation because tourism is such a large economic market in the Mediterranean, and many economies would take a hit if tourism stopped or slowed down in some areas. Many locals dislike tourists, but some locals also depend on them to make a living. One question I would ask is that is there a way you can think of that will decrease the disliked tourism in some areas without putting local business that depend on tourists at risk? And would you consider the economy more important than a cities integrity and identity being lost to tourism?


  8. There are many reasons why Barcelona residents are weary of tourism. With the population only around 1.6 million residents, 20 million tourists coming to visit can be a little overwhelming. While tourism can be good in most cases, it can also have its downsizes with so many tourists visiting a year. With so many residential areas being bought out for Air bnb, this could be a problem for residents that actually live in Barcelona, with 45% of resident population dropping in the past 12 years in Gothic Quarter. The city Raval was an example of the residents being angry about Barcelona putting a museum there to attract tourists. Residents of this area were not happy with this and had put up not welcome signs by an activist groups not wanting the attention of tourists. With all these tourists coming to Barcelona also raises costs for housing not just for the tourists, but for residents that live there that could cause more poverty and homelessness. Some of the challenges that the Mediterranean is going to face is the raise of prices of resident areas and the fact that more tourists/people will be living in the Mediterranean in the future bumping out poorer residents. Being able to keep the residents and the tourists happy will definitely be challenging but possible. One question I had about this article is has all this increased tourism and some residents not happy about it caused an increase in crime and violence? and If so, how much?


  9. Tourism via means of AirBnb has easily become a double-edged sword. In terms of its economic impact on a local level in Barcelona I think it can clearly be determined that the boom the tourism created by the program has done local communities more harm than good. The abuse of the program by means of throwing temporary living prices way higher in an attempt to make profit compared to renting places out to local tenants seems to be a good place to start discussing the issues surrounding why the local populous absolutely hates the program. Between a shrink and redirection of the actual local housing market, (causing problems such as ACTUAL rent prices going way higher due to a possible housing crisis) that would come from the decision to focus more on temporary foreign residents rather than locals, and the hot spots of tourism that would be created in areas of high temporary renting that can easily and have evidently caused harm via higher rates of traffic, and general disturbances to locals. Thousands showing up along a shoreline protesting seems to be a good way to summarize how threatening the situation is to locals. Although the already existing boom in tourism that occurred right before the rise of AirBnb in 2009 could be another influence weighing heavily on Barcelona, the influence of AirBnb is undeniably a big issue.


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