Barcelona is becoming a victim of its own popularity. So much so that tourists are crowding residents out of the housing market, resulting in the city government cracking down on rental websites Airbnb and HomeAway in an attempt to curb mass tourism.
Barcelona authorities say they will fine the vacation websites 600,000 euros (US$633,000) each for offering lodging that doesn’t have the necessary permits. The two companies had been fined smaller amounts earlier this year for the same offense, but did not comply with the licensing mandate requiring apartments marketed to tourists to be on the Catalan tourism register, according to the Associated Press.
The Spanish city is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, but with so many visitors, locals are having trouble finding affordable housing as property owners can make more money renting out extra rooms, or their entire property, to travelers via websites like Airbnb and HomeAway.
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau told Catalunya Radio on Thursday that while tourism was a positive asset for the city, it had grown too much and was denying locals access to housing.
Colau also wants rental websites to hand over information on the property owners.
“Everybody must comply with the same game rules,” Colau told Reuters in Barcelona’s city hall earlier this year. “An Internet platform cannot become a means to thwart the regulations and to shelter illegal tourist apartments. In that case we do have to intervene very forcefully.”
So what does this all mean for travelers? Well for now, you may be shelling out more for a hotel room in the city. If you can find one, that is. Book well in advance!