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Tourists warned of ban in beautiful Spanish holiday hotspot loved by Brits

Tourists warned of ban in beautiful Spanish holiday hotspot loved by Brits

British tourists visiting a favourite Spanish hotspot should take note: a significant change is on the horizon.

The city of Barcelona, a cherished destination among British travellers, is planning to reclaim 10,000 short-term rental apartments for local housing, marking a significant shift in its approach to tourism.

In a bold move announced on Friday, Barcelona Mayor Jaume Collboni revealed that by November 2028, the city will revoke licenses for the 10,101 apartments currently operating as short-term rentals.

“We are confronting what we believe is Barcelona’s largest problem,” Collboni said, emphasising the critical nature of the housing issue.

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

He further stressed the need to protect the right to live in Barcelona and address the ongoing housing crisis, adding: “No tourist flat in Barcelona. We will recover the current 10,101 homes. We improve the 30 percent rule to make the promotion of affordable housing in the city effective. Administration, society and the real estate sector must join forces to protect the right to housing.”

The initiative has garnered support from Spain’s Socialist Housing Minister Isabel Rodriguez, who said: “This is what it is about – making all the necessary efforts to guarantee access to decent and affordable housing. You have my full support in this task. Barcelona will eliminate the city’s tourist apartments in five years.”

The city’s Tourism Observatory highlighted that Barcelona attracted 16 million tourists in 2016.

However, this move is part of a broader trend seen across Spain and other European destinations, where regions like Mallorca, Ibiza, the Canary Islands, Lisbon in Portugal, and Berlin in Germany have also introduced restrictions on tourist rentals.

Airbnb, a major platform for holiday rentals, has not yet issued a response to this development. Meanwhile, Barcelona’s tourist apartments association, APARTUR, criticised the decision, warning it could lead to an increase in illegal rentals and exacerbate poverty and unemployment.

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

This policy builds on Barcelona’s existing efforts, which have already seen the closure of 9,700 illegal tourist apartments since 2016, with nearly 3,500 apartments reclaimed for local residents’ primary housing.