Spain's tourist-phobia

spain's tourist phobia

Spain is a country that was made for tourists - it's relatively cheap, has decent weather, good beaches, and plenty of monuments. 


You can find tourism offers to suit any budget. You want to come here on the cheap, you can. Want to spend a fortune, you can. 


82 million people visited Spain in 2017 - a record. Spain is now only second to France in the number of international visitors visiting its shores. 


The records keep being smashed year after year


If you have visited a Spanish city in recent years, you will no doubt know what I am talking about. 


City centres and tourist attractions are jammed packed. On any day of the week and in any month, the centre of Barcelona, Seville or Madrid are heaving with camera-wielding tourists. 


The cash registers constantly ring and the ATMs don't stop spitting out cash. Tourism is a huge part of the Spanish economy

The negatives

Yet for every silver lining there is a cloud. And for some the cloud is one of those big black ones that sits overhead not allowing the sun's rays to shine through. 


Tourism, they say, is ruining their cities. It pushes up rental prices, kills small retailers, and forces people to live far from the city centre. 


Jobs are created but they are not the ones people want to have. A lot of people don't want to spend 10-hours a day waiting tables or cleaning tourist apartments. 


Local residents find there apartment blocks full of tourist rentals. Airbnb has changed rental market in Spain for good. 


Long-term accommodation is becoming harder and harder to find as owners prefer the more lucrative short-term rental market. 


Spanish apartment owners seem to have been sucked in to the short-term rental phenomenon in recent years as they try to maximise their return on investment. 


However, according to this article, there seem to more advantages to renting out your flat long-term here in Spain.


When you take into consideration the added cleaning fees, key management and general maintenance, apartment owners usually get a better return renting on a yearly basis. 


There are also more tax breaks for people that rent their apartments this way. 


The initial attraction of Airbnb was most likely the fact that the money was not being declared to taxman. 


But Hacienda has recently started to crack down on this fraudulent activity. 

spain's tourist phobia
Tourists on Madrid's Gran Via

Jobs are created but...

Tourism creates a lot of jobs here in Spain but it's the quality of the jobs that seems to draw people's ire. 


Salaries are low and contracts are usually seasonal. Most of the jobs created are low-skilled and job stability and security are lacking. 


Some political groups have even blamed the education system for putting too much focus on English language learning. They argue that the system prepares people for the types of jobs mentioned above. 


Basically, if you are a young Spaniard and you want to live and work in Spain, the tourism industry might be one of your only options. 


Spending your years in higher education may mean that you have to emigrate. 

the need to Find a balance

As summer approaches, it will be interesting to see whether there is another backlash as tourist numbers start to rise. 


2017 was the first time, as far as I know,  that tourist-phobia turned into violent acts. 


Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Bilbao were some of the cities where tourists were not always made to feel welcome. 


A tourist bikes had their tyres slashed and and restaurant was invaded by protesters who let off smoke bombs and covered patrons with confetti. 


These events happened during the height of the Catalan independence movement and may be isolated events. 


Normal protests are usually limited to graffiti and signs hanging from balconies in busy tourist neighbourhoods. 


Spain needs to find a balance between locals and tourists, especially in the main cities. There is not much you can do on the Costas as it is too late. 


The numbers of foreign visitors is only going to increase. Cheap flights and higher disposable incomes mean that people are going to travel as often as they can. 


Spain needs to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and stay away from the low-cost model.


Tourists need to respect and treat cities as if they were living there, and locals need to be more welcoming. 


Let's hope the protests don't turn violent this year and in years to come. 


What's your opinion?




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