The Problems of Tourist Sustainability in Cultural Cities: Socio-Political Perceptions and Interests Management
2. The Current State of the Research
3. Methodology and Data Sources
3.1. Combination of Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies
3.2. Quantitative Methodology
- Residents’ perceptions regarding the carrying capacity of the city’s infrastructure. Question: “Which of these two opinions do you agree with most? (Read the possibilities, choose only one answer): Barcelona should continue to attract more tourists; Barcelona has reached the limit of its capacity to serve tourists; Do not know, do not answer.”
- To know residents’ opinions about tourists’ behaviour, two questions were asked: a first, to ascertain whether their behaviour was considered good or bad and a second, to know the reason why it was considered bad.
- To ascertain whether their behaviour is considered good or bad. Question: “Judging by what you have seen, would you say that tourists’ behaviour in the city is: (Read possibilities, only one answer allowed): Very good, Good, (do not read) Neither good nor bad, Bad, Very bad, Do not know, Do not answer
- Reasons why tourists’ behaviour is considered bad. Question following on from the previous. “If you consider it to be bad or very bad, what are your reasons?” (Spontaneous, no suggestions. Write answers down word for word and with maximum detail).
- To know residents’ opinions about the council’s management of tourism, two questions were asked: a first to know if they considered it positive or negative and a second to know the reasons for their negative opinions.
- To know whether residents’ opinion was positive or negative. Question “In general, do you rate the Council’s management of tourism in Barcelona positively or negatively? (Only one answer): Positively, Negatively, (Do not read) Neither positively nor negatively).”
- If you value it negatively, to know the reasons. Question following on from the previous “If you value it negatively, what are your reasons?” (Spontaneous, no suggestions. Write answers down word for word and with maximum detail).
3.3. Qualitative Methodology
4. Results and Discussion
4.1. Citizens’ Opinions
4.2. Tourist Opinions
4.3. Opinions Published in the Media
4.3.1. Incidents, Codes and Concepts
4.3.2. Substantive and Formal Theory to Explain the Problems of Tourism in Barcelona
Categories of Concepts and Substantive Theories
Formal Theory: Tourism Sustainability and Social Conflict
“Esther Jorquera, from the pressure group defending La Barceloneta ... ’The problem is speculation. Every month, dozens of people living in rented accommodation are evicted ... 80% of my acquaintances have been forced out so that their flats can be turned over to tourism,’ she says. She criticizes the administrations for ‘not having done anything, only token gestures’”.
“‘They came running into the supermarket naked ... they had to be forcibly removed’, Forner explains to BBC Mundo ...
‘They come here and do what they can’t do at home,’ Forner complains. Residents say that tourists party well into the early hours of the morning, making noise and not showing respect for even the most basic social norms.
Antonio Heras, 70, has seen tourists having sex through doors and windows left open. ‘Opposite where I live there are two tourist blocks. I have often had to go out and have a word’”.
“Barcelona Council has not renewed four sun lounger and two parasol licences ... According to sources close to Colau’s cabinet, this is the last summer that our beaches will be financially exploited through this type of agreement, which is a legacy from the Trias government”.
“Residents of the Casc Antic (old city) uncover a network of illegal tourist apartments and the manager openly challenges them.
Activists draw up a comprehensive report that debunks the myth that Airbnb apartments provide a lifeline for families struggling because of the crisis.
There have been insults and pushes. Accompanied by two people, Serra personally ripped the banner off. Inside the apartment, however, the police and municipal inspectors were already there”.
“Users in Barcelona of electronic platforms such as Airbnb or HomeAway are hitting back. The group has launched a campaign of mailing leaflets to counter the council’s initiative of fining owners of illegal tourist flats in Barcelona, which has so far resulted in some 1200 disciplinary proceedings. In the leaflet sent out to thousands of blocks of flats in the Catalan capital since Monday, activists contest a letter sent by the council, urging residents to report illegal tourists’ flats”.
“Complaints to the Ombudsman of Barcelona, Maria Assumpció Vilà, relating to tourism quadrupled last year compared to the year before. There was a total of 123 in 2016, while in 2015 there were 28.
Vilà gave this figure on Monday during the presentation of the 2016 annual complaints report, which shows that of the 123 concerning tourism, 108 were for disagreeing with the council’s campaign urging citizens to denounce illegal tourist flats. Those who complained consider the initiative to be a violation of the right to privacy and to be responsible for a number of false denunciations as well as distrust among residents”.
Conflicts of Interest
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|IRRIDEX. Index of Irritation|
|One||Euphoria||“Associated with the initial phase of the development of the industry and visitors and investors are welcomed”||“There is usually little planning or control mechanism.”|
|Two||Apathy||“Tourists are taken for granted and contacts between residents and outsiders become more formal.”||“Most planning will be concerned with marketing.”|
|Three||Annoyance||“As saturation points are approached, residents begin to show misgivings about the tourist industry.”||“Policy makers tend to see solutions in increasing infrastructure rather than through setting limits to growth.”|
|Four||Antagonism||“This stage is reached when irritations are overtly expressed verbally and physically. Mutual politeness gives way to mutual antagonism and the outsider is seen as the cause of all problems, personal and societal.”||“Planning will now have to be remedial but is usually proceeded by the simple expedient of increasing promotion to offset the deteriorating reputation of the destination.”|
|Incidents: Newspaper Fragments||Codes|
|“‘Drunk tourism’: the path to alcohol-fuelled recklessness that Spain hides... We review the main tourist destinations where young foreigners live out their ‘rite of passage’ to maturity via alcohol-induced comas and mamading” .||Recklessness.|
|Drunken tourism and anomie|
|“Tourism-phobia: the ugly face of a million-dollar industry.”|
“Barcelona passes a bill banning new hotels in the city centre. Colau and ERC’s town planning heralds a downturn for the city centre and casts new accommodation out to the periphery.”
“Neighbourhoods with the most tourists must feel compensated.”
“Colau abets the black market of hotel licences, as happened with the taxis” [23,24,25,26].
|Too many tourists|
Coexistence is compromised
Ban on new hotels
Redistribution of flows
Black market of licences.
|“Traditional establishments are losing ground and are being forced to close in the face of ‘the pressure exerted by the big commercial brands and franchises.’ From my point of view, the centre of Barcelona is completely depersonalized, it could be any city centre anywhere in the world.’”|
“The authentic has been commodified by instant consumption, there are barely any traditional taverns with any character left, only franchises” .
|Closure of traditional establishments|
Cities all look the same
Commodification of the authentic
|Loss of character|
|“Colau revokes the licences for sun loungers on Barcelona’s beaches” “Barcelona City Council halts four licences for sun loungers and two for parasols ... As a result, users recover 1800 square metres of beach.”|
“Barcelona City Council has removed the terraces on Mandri Street ... The association of restaurant owners do not rule out initiating actions against the Council” [28,29].
|Impossible to stroll|
Impossible to talk to neighbours
Impossible to hold gatherings
Impossible to carry out cultural activities
Impossible to enjoy the beach
|Invasion of public spaces by private commerce|
|“For example, in Gràcia, a very traditional neighbourhood of Barcelona, we have recently seen the proliferation of what are known as ‘slow’ establishments... but residents can’t afford to buy their products because of the increasingly high prices they charge.”|
“To the clamour of ‘we don’t want tourist apartments’ ... the proliferation of tourist properties that, according to reports, harm the lives of local residents because rents rise, traditional commerce is lost, the cost of living goes up and there are constant squabbles provoked by selfish tourists who show no consideration to residents’ need to rest” [27,30].
|Tourism hikes up the prices of basic goods (housing, food …)|
Tourism increases the prices of leisure venues (bars, concerts ...).
|“Official tour guides denounce the growing presence of foreign agents in the sector. Barcelona has become full of ‘hundreds’ of tourist guides that charge only tips, most of whom have no formal training. Guides have been seen hired by Russian, Chinese and Israeli tour operators that do not have the compulsory accreditation to work in certain specific monuments.” |
“Professional tour guides decry labour intrusion in Park Güell. The collective demands that the Generalitat and the Council crack down on guides without licences. The law requires that tour guides be accredited to explain the monuments that have been declared Cultural Assets of National Interest” [31,32].
Guides that charge only tips
Guides without training
Guides from other countries
Guides operating without the official accreditation
|“My children had to leave as they could no longer afford to pay the rent which is sky-high now. For a 30 metres squared ground floor flat with problems of damp, rats and cockroaches they were paying 750 Euros a month. They want to force us to leave to free up these flats for tourists” .||High rents|
We cannot pay these rents
Our children have to look for somewhere else to live
Vacate the flats for tourists.
|“The hidden and precarious face of tourism... Businesses reduce costs by outsourcing and increasing working hours... Both the Kellys and CCOO and UGT have been flooded with complaints and work inspections and the courts are beginning to reap the first positive rewards of that strategy ... The unions denounce that the upsurge of precariousness is coinciding with a record high in profitability.”|
“More tourists catered for by the same number of workers.”
“We must ask ourselves if we really want a service-based society where hotel entrepreneurs make huge profits off the backs of those lower down the ranks who are working in conditions of semi-slavery” [27,33,34].
Long working hours
Protests by the affected
Protests by the unions
Heavier work load
Huge profits for business owners
Work in conditions of semi-slavery
|“The neighbourhoods along the seafront denounce the prevalence of sun loungers and tourist apartments and the rise in behind-closed-doors evictions. The chronic battle against tourist apartments. Neighbourhood actions to combat tourist apartments remain firm but they are proving unable to win the battle: as soon as they have succeeded in closing one, another opens.”|
“Banner: ‘We do not want tourists in our buildings. This is not a beach resort.’ Of course it hurts to see how our neighbourhood has become degraded, how drunk tourists relieve themselves behind communal bins but it hurts even more to see our elders thrown out onto the streets. The main problem affecting the neighbourhood is real estate speculation and evictions,” (Neighbours’ statements, Barceloneta) [30,35].
Fight against tourist apartments
Real estate speculation
|“A group of left-wing pro-independence activists assaults a tourist bus in Barcelona, spraying ‘Tourism kills neighbourhoods’ on the front.”|
“We act in legitimate defence against a model that wants to turn us into slaves and our country into an amusement park that benefits only the bourgeoisie and capital” (Declarations Arran) [36,37].
Opposition to business owners
Fear among tourists
|“PDeCAT, Cs and PP criticise Colau’s government for its attacks on tourism.”|
“The opposition forces a debate in the City Council Presidency and Security Committee to address Arran’s attacks. CUP-Capgirem boycott the debate, defending the actions of its younger political faction. Arran says it is against the tourist model, not the tourists. The Catalan government and the CUP clash because of the attack on the tourist bus. In response to questions from the opposition, Colom guarantees that the Council will appear in court but adds that it will study the most appropriate legal form for this. He denied that the attack was an example of tourism-phobia and called it a ‘symbolic act,’ as did the CUP” .
|The opposition criticises the government |
Political disagreement Back
|“The flipsides of the sharing economy ... The idea seems good because people on lower incomes are able to access tourist destinations but the controversy comes when sharing economy entrepreneurs do not pay their taxes and trade dishonestly with regard to the legal offer.”|
“Barcelona fines Airbnb and HomeAway 600,000 Euros for continuing to advertise unlicensed flats. The City Council has ordered the closure of 709 illegal tourist flats since August ... The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, announced on Thursday that the Council will sanction Airbnb and HomeAway with 600,000 Euros each for continuing to advertise tourist flats without a license” [39,40].
|Companies that do not pay their taxes|
Advertisements for unlicensed flats
|“The German tour operator TUI warns that ‘Spain is already packed full with tourists.’ The group believes that high influx has hiked prices and this will open up new tourism possibilities in other countries” .||Warnings from tour operators.|
Tourists turn to other travel destinations
|Oligopolistic structure of the tourist industry|
|Drunken tourism and anomie||Quality tourism|
|Loss of identity||Authenticity|
|Invasion of public space by private commerce|
|Neighbourhood protests||Political confrontation|
|Job insecurity||Poverty and social exclusion|
|Unfair competition||Status and disruptive innovation|
|Oligopoly in the structure of the tourist market|
|Residents and Residents’ Associations||Tourists||Workers Tourist Industry||Specialised and Licenced Workers’ Collectives (Guides)||Conventional Entrepreneurs||Shared Economy Entrepreneurs and Disruptive Innovation||Large Tour Operators||Ombudsmen||Tourism Management Bodies||Local/Autonomous Government||National and European Governance||Political Parties||Activist Groups|
|Social||Residents and residents’ associations||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Workers tourist industry||*||*||*|
|Specialised and licenced workers’ collectives (guides)||*||*||*||*||*|
|Shared economy entrepreneurs and disruptive innovation||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Large tour operators||*||*||*||*|
|Tourism management bodies||*||*|
|National and European governance||*||*|
© 2018 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Alvarez-Sousa, A. The Problems of Tourist Sustainability in Cultural Cities: Socio-Political Perceptions and Interests Management. Sustainability 2018, 10, 503. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020503
Alvarez-Sousa A. The Problems of Tourist Sustainability in Cultural Cities: Socio-Political Perceptions and Interests Management. Sustainability. 2018; 10(2):503. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020503Chicago/Turabian Style
Alvarez-Sousa, Antonio. 2018. "The Problems of Tourist Sustainability in Cultural Cities: Socio-Political Perceptions and Interests Management" Sustainability 10, no. 2: 503. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020503