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Barcelona plans to ban all apartment rentals for tourists by 2028

Barcelona, a Spanish destination hotspot for overtourism, plans to close all holiday apartments in the city in the next four years.

Barcelona, a Spanish destination hotspot for overtourism, plans to close all holiday apartments in the city in the next four years.

The move is an attempt to curb skyrocketing housing costs and make living in the city more affordable for residents. 

According to Reuters, Barcelona Mayor Jaume Collboni announced that the city would nullify the licenses of more than 10,000 apartments currently used as holiday properties by November 2028. 

“We are confronting what we believe is Barcelona’s largest problem,” Collboni recently said at a city event. 

“Those 10,000 apartments will be used by the city’s residents or will go on the market for rent or sale.”

Spain is one of the world’s most touristed countries, but its popularity has had a double-edged effect. 

Barcelona
Park Guell Barcelona ©Unsplash

Of course, there are the economic benefits that come with mass tourism, but many residents of cities such as Barcelona – Spain’s most visited metropolis – are being priced out by the huge increase in holiday rental properties. 

Collboni said rents have risen by 68 per cent in the past decade while house prices have grown by 38 per cent. 

He added that young people have been especially impacted. 

Spanish housing minister Isabel Rodriguez supports Barcelona’s decision. 

“It’s about making all the necessary efforts to guarantee access to affordable housing,” she wrote on X. 

Tourists visiting the Sagrada Familia basilica church.
Tourists visiting the Sagrada Familia basilica church.

APARTUR, Barcelona’s tourist apartments association, responded by saying that the ban would trigger a rise in illegal tourist apartments, Reuters reported. It added, 

“Collboni is making a mistake that will lead to (higher) poverty and unemployment”.  

The local government said in a statement that it would continue to keep a close on potential illegal apartments.  

Along with residents, hotels would be the obvious beneficiaries of a ban on holiday rentals.

Canary Island Protest
Canary Island Protest.

In April, tens of thousands of residents across Spain’s Canary Islands took to the streets to rally against overtourism, calling for urgent limitations on visitor numbers and a halt to what they deem to be uncontrolled development.

Elsewhere in Europe, Amsterdam recently unveiled drastic measures to stop overtourism by limiting the number of river cruises entering its waterways and halting new hotel construction.

In April, Venice became the first city in the world to implement a tourist payment to manage the overwhelming number of visitors crowding its iconic canals.