Barcelona Acquires Airbnb – The New York Times

Forty years ago, Barcelona wasn’t high on most tourists’ lists of European must-sees. But that changed after the city hosted the Summer Olympics in 1992: Huge public investment in beautifying the city coincided with a pivotal point on the global stage. A new “target” was born.

Attracted by the city’s museums, restaurants, architecture and Mediterranean coastline, tourists came from all over Europe and the world. As of 2019, Barcelona, ​​a city of approximately 1.6 million, is registered More than 21.3 million overnight stays, more than double the figure in 2005. And that’s not even counting the more than three million cruise ship passengers that passed through the city’s port that year.

When Airbnb arrived in 2009, Barcelona had no specific regulation governing private rentals for tourists, but interest in the service was evident: By mid-2016, the Barcelona division of Airbnb had nearly 20,000 listings of both private rooms and entire apartments. Data from Inside Airbnb, which tracks listings in cities around the world. Homeowners in Barcelona operated in a kind of “gray market” in the early years of growth: It was clearly not legal and clearly not prohibited.

But as the number of tourists increased, so did the feeling among many in Barcelona that the city was approaching visitor capacity. in the summer of 2014, anti tourism protests It erupted in the neighborhood of Barceloneta, where locals were fed up with the noise and muffled behavior of visitors to the party. anti-tourism graffiti sprouted, sometimes in popular tourist spotsand in 2017 a group of leftist activists damaged an open-top bus full of tourists. Many residents – some in town hall — pointed his finger at Airbnb.

“For a long time, tourism was seen as nothing more than a positive thing for the city, but now we are starting to feel all its effects,” said Mar Santamaría Varas, Barcelona-based architect and co-founder of the company. 300,000 km/s, a city planning agency. With regard to tourist accommodation, he added, his analysis reveals three main problems: gentrification, crowding in public spaces, and the disappearance of corner stores and other retailers essential to residents.

Airbnb argues that private room rentals have little or no impact on the availability of local residences, as people who rent private rooms live in the same property. However study Published in the Journal of Urban Economics last year, it found that an Airbnb event in Barcelona increased rents by 7 percent and house prices by 17 percent in the neighborhoods with the highest levels of activity on the platform. In the average neighborhood, the effects were a 1.9 percent increase in rent and a 4.6 percent increase in house prices.

The election of Ada Colau as mayor of Barcelona in 2015 marked a turning point in the city’s relationship with tourism and initiated the first real efforts to regulate short-term rentals. Already famous in spain Left-wing Ms Colau took a much tougher line on tourism than her predecessor, as she battled housing evictions. Under his leadership, City Hall enacted a moratorium on new tourist licenses for all apartment rentals; dealt a major blow to illegal apartment listings; banned the construction of new hotels in the city centre; and introduced neighborhood-specific rules to regulate the establishment of gift shops and other businesses that cater to tourists.

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