No to wild tourists

No to wild tourists

BARCEONA - Sick of drunken, naked visitors cavorting in the streets, residents of one seaside neighbourhood in Barcelona, Spain, are fighting back.

They are complaining that the Spanish city has fallen victim to its own tourism success.

Long popular with foreign merrymakers, the beachside district of La Barceloneta surged to notoriety last month when newspapers published photographs of smirking tourists shopping stark naked in a supermarket.

Local families soon took to the streets in angry demonstrations, condemning a mass tourism industry that they say packs visitors into cheap, unregulated rental flats in their district.

"La Barceloneta rebels," read signs waved by the locals.

"Stop mass wild tourism... My building is not a hotel."

Mr Manel Serrano, 59, pushing his mother in a wheelchair at one of the demonstrations, told AFP: "It is a daily ordeal for us. At night, the place fills up with illegal parties, people getting drunk and shouting in the street. It is disgraceful and unbearable."

Formerly an old fishing district, La Barceloneta's beachfront became one of the finest spots in the city when Barcelona was renovated to host the 1992 Olympic Games.

Now locals say so-called "tourist apartments" are driving up housing prices in their home district.

"They are speculating with the apartments and rents are rising," said Ms Pilar Lozano, an unemployed woman of 42.

Barcelona's city hall has boosted police patrols in the district and stepped up inspections of suspected illegal flat-rentals.

It has not granted any new licences to let out tourist flats in the centre since May.

"We have been working for some time on promoting tourism but it has not been properly regulated until now. Now we are addressing that," said Ms Sonia Recasens, the city's top economic official.

When the city polled its residents in July, they cited tourism as their fourth-biggest worry, after unemployment, the economy and security.


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