No more holiday lets: Barcelona leading the way?

In a move aimed at alleviating the housing shortage and improving the deteriorating quality of life in residential neighbourhoods, Barcelona's mayor Jaume Collboni has announced that licences for holiday lets will not be renewed when they expire over the next five years. Reactions in Europe's press highlight how overtourism is an issue that many people are concerned about.

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El Mundo (ES) /

Restrictions of little use without controls

El Mundo is sceptical:

“Banning tourist flats is risky. The practical results are uncertain, as the experience of New York has shown, where housing prices have continued to rise and the supply of this type of service has shifted to nearby communities. ... Accounting for close to 13 percent of GDP, tourism is one of Spain's greatest economic assets, which is why clear regulations that guarantee its sustainability and quality without stifling the dynamism of this sector are vital. ... Restrictions are of little use if they are not accompanied by inspections that put a stop to flats being offered illegally. They could even be counterproductive if the black market is not controlled.”

The Independent (GB) /

Ghost towns and illegal accomodation

Such regulations would also be welcome in the UK, The Independent argues:

“Just ask the residents of Britain's prettiest seaside villages - if you can find them. Out of season, the likes of Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire, Whitstable in Kent and Mousehole in Cornwall are often pitch dark; nobody's home, because few can afford to live there these days, thanks to all the holiday lets that no one much fancies in deepest February. These towns are becoming like a ghost town. Meanwhile, in London, cash-strapped councils have accused holiday platforms of not doing enough to prevent local authority housing from being illegally sublet to tourists for vast profits – and at a time when thousands of people are on waiting lists for full-time accommodation.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

Make investors provide affordable accommodation

Kathimerini calls for similar measures for Greek holiday destinations:

“When the Greek state issues an operating license to a large tourist unit to build in a relatively small destination, shouldn't it oblige the investors to build housing for their staff? Or allow them to build one- or two-star hotels that will host them – that is, allow a months-long lease, which is currently prohibited? That way we would avoid these shocking stories of luxury hotels housing their staff in miserable conditions, and we would protect both local communities and access to these destinations for people who can't afford to pay exorbitant amounts for a room.”

Expressen (SE) /

Put the brakes on mass tourism

Travelling will no longer be pleasurable for anyone if the current trend continues, says Expressen:

“There are so many of us tourists that it is gradually getting to the stage where instead of seeing the Fontana di Trevi, the Mona Lisa or whatever, all we see is a sea of other tourists. ... Not even Mount Everest exists anymore. Instead of climbing it, people literally queue all the way up to the summit. With their mobile phones at the ready, of course. Hurray for the resistance movement! Mass tourism must be discouraged - made more complicated and more expensive, with far more photo bans. If you can only capture reality with your mobile phone, you might as well stay at home and google it.”