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Barcelona implements ban on short-term tourism rentals


Barcelona bans short-term tourist rentals, aiming to eliminate 10,000 licenses over five years to address the local housing crisis.

Barcelona, one of Spain’s premier tourist destinations, is set to ban apartment rentals to tourists to improve housing availability for local residents.

The city council has unveiled a bold plan to eliminate approximately 10,000 tourist flat licenses over the next five years, according to local media reports. This initiative aims to tackle the severe national housing crisis, which is particularly pressing in tourist-heavy cities like Barcelona. The strategy prioritizes residential use over tourism in one of Europe’s most frequented cities.

This move aligns with a global trend where cities are addressing the impacts of mass tourism on local communities. The decision empowers Barcelona’s authorities to regulate tourist flats within the city. Since 2014, Barcelona has halted the issuance of new licenses, capping the number at 9,600 units, though some cases are still pending court decisions.

Over the past decade, the city has seen significant increases in housing rents, correlating with a decrease in housing availability for local residents.

Jaume Collboni, the city’s mayor, described the measures as “a turning point” in addressing the housing access problem, particularly for young people. While acknowledging that the effects will not be immediate, he believes the plan will spark important political and social discussions.

“We want to guarantee the right to live in Barcelona and effectively address the housing crisis we have faced for years,” he tweeted.

Deputy Mayor Laia Bonet added that the five-year period before licenses expire serves as a form of compensation for landlords.

Javier Delgado, Managing Partner & CEO EMEA of Mirai, a tech provider to hotels to help them sell in the direct channel: “In our opinion, the main driver for this colossal increase of STR supply springs from the lack of clear regulations. We have seen varying levels of tolerance to this phenomenon across the globe. A total ban of STR does not appear to be reasonable as there is a substantial market that needs and expects this kind ofde lodging.

“With a clear regulation that ensures safety and security to the guests, plus a sustainable and reasonable quota of STR units rooms per local citizen and a sustainable tax scheme there should be “room for everyone” in all cities.

“The current situation with unclear legislation and illegal / unregulated supply increasing exponentially creates an unbalanced and unfair ecosystem for the lodging industry plus a negative effect in local communities.

“The ideal solution would be a European regulation that provides clear rules and restrictions ensuring sustainability and fairness. In any case we must acknowledge that this is  easy to say and difficult to do.”

Vanessa de Souza Lage from Sustonica, who lives in Barcelona and whose business offers sustainability certification for short-term rentals, comments: “The proposed ban on short-term rentals (STR) in Barcelona will have significant long-term negative consequences that the current government is overlooking. STRs are essential for dispersing tourism throughout the city. For instance, my neighborhood, which has no hotels, benefits from STRs bringing in visitors. Overcrowding is mainly an issue in areas densely populated with hotels, whereas many other neighborhoods in Barcelona would welcome more tourists.

Furthermore, STR travelers contribute to more sustainable tourism. They tend to spend their money locally, directly supporting the community. This includes local flat owners, cleaners, agencies, and nearby merchants. Because travelers cook in the accommodation,  they are more likely to shop at local markets, buy local produce and therefore directly contribute to the local economy. This local spending boosts the neighborhood’s economy, creating jobs and fostering economic resilience. In contrast, tourists staying in chain hotels typically channel their spending through international corporations, with much of the revenue leaving the local economy.

By spporting STRs, we encourage a more equitable distribution of tourism’s economic benefits and promote a more sustainable and locally integrated model of tourism. This approach not only strengthens the local economy but also enhances the visitor experience by fostering genuine connections with the community. For these reasons, cities, and specifically Barcelona, should not ban STRs.”

Carlos Cendra, director of marketing & communications at travel data intelligence provider Mabrian comments: “Gaining reliable data on what is actually going on in any city is almost impossible when compared to say data on hotels or airlines: given the extremely fragmented nature of supply, the fact that there are undoubtedly many semi legal and even illegal rentals happening (meaning no data), the highly politicized nature of the debate, and that this is a relatively new segment of travel.

 “However, the number of short term rentals in Barcelona on Airbnb in March, for example, was around 15,600 properties with 54,000 rooms – that means that just on Airbnb, not the only source of supply, there are 50% more properties than there are officially registered in the city.

 “Three years ago we created a specific indicator around accommodation density, adding hotels and short term rentals, to measure the tourist pressure and will continue to do so in relation to this development.”

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.