Eyou can’t just start running anymore. In the future, tourist guides in Barcelona will first have to consult the new city map. Groups can only reach the most important sights in the heart of the old town via a dozen one-way streets. You can’t just stop there either. In the Gothic Quarter with the Sant Jaume Square, the City Hall and the Government Palace there are a maximum of eight groups, in front of the modernist facade of the Palau de la Música there is only one group. A maximum of 15 visitors at a time is allowed, loudspeakers are prohibited. With the new decree, the city administration wants to try to prevent the collapse in the narrow streets.
Barcelona is trying to tame the flow of tourists that has descended on the city after the two-year pandemic hiatus. “It overwhelmed us all. It started with Semana Santa and hasn’t stopped since then,” says city guide Macarena Bergada. It’s been high season since Easter, as if Corona had never existed. Everything went faster than expected. Experts had not expected recovery from the consequences of the corona virus until 2023. Nobody seriously wants to go back to conditions like in the record year 2019. At that time, almost 14 million people visited the city with 1.6 million inhabitants – twice as many live in Madrid and Berlin.
A basic course in civilized behavior
In hot August, the city is not as crowded as in previous months. The locals are on vacation, Spaniards and other tourists are drawn to the beach and not to the Picasso Museum. Nevertheless, under the trees of the Rambla boulevard, the crowds roll from the sea to the Catalunya Square. A leisurely stroll is not possible, affordable hotels are hard to come by. Apparently that doesn’t scare you. Room prices rose this year by 75 percent to an average of 150 euros per night – only Marbella, where the rich and beautiful bathe, is even more expensive in Spain. Hoteliers breathe a sigh of relief, but the old horror is returning for residents in tourist-favorite neighborhoods.
The city government is trying a basic course in civilized behavior. “The streets aren’t toilets,” says the poster, which uses a QR code to indicate the location of the nearest public toilet. In the Barceloneta district between the beach and the old town, the desperate residents, who can hardly sleep in the summer, resort to more drastic methods: they pour buckets of water from their balconies onto the noisy visitors who are throwing up on their doorstep or defecating. “Stop the tourist pigs” is written on a self-made collage in a window and in clumsy English: “You tourists kills my neighborhood”.
Against drinking tourism
She didn’t think it could get any worse, says an old woman who has lived her whole life in the former fishing district. With her packed shopping cart, she saves herself from a horde of tourists on Segway scooters. Groups of more than twenty bicycles and more than a thousand bicycle taxis are clogging the streets, while others are storming the public buses. The woman from Barceloneta complains that she often doesn’t get a seat.