'Gaudi hates you': Barcelona natives turn on tourists

Barcelona: The butcher's shop at the Mercat de La Boqueria has been in Francisca Gabaldas family for four generations.

For decades, she says, visitors have come from far and wide for the array of quality produce on offer at the Barcelona's covered market.

The picturesque market is thronging but the traders are not happy, as the visitors are selfie stick-wielding tourists and their regular trade is being strangled. "They stand in crowds in the middle of the aisles, taking photos, or eating," Mrs Gabaldas, 71, said.

"People don't want to come here to do their shopping any more."

On a nearby stall, signs warning "No photos" and "This is not a tourist attraction" sit atop skinned chickens.

The owner, Maricarmen Vall-llovera, sighs at a group by the counter with T-shirts announcing "Caccio's Bachelor Party", one of its number sporting a pair of plastic buttocks.

"Here we go, another stag do. At the weekends that's all there is," she says. "It's hurting our sales."

The market is one of the most visible examples of the tourism surge that has many locals rattled, with residents citing it as Barcelona's second biggest problem after unemployment.

Last year, its 1.6 million residents were swamped by an estimated 32 million visitors.

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As the numbers have risen, so have tensions. Graffiti blaring "Tourists go home" and "Gaudi hates you" has appeared across the city.

Thousands have joined marches declaring that "Barcelona is not for sale".

The city council, led by Left-wing mayor Ada Colau, has stepped in with new restrictions on hotel openings and licensing. Many argue that the proliferation of apps such as Airbnb are the greater problem, sending rents soaring and creating tourist "ghettos".

Gerardo Pisarello, the deputy mayor, told La Vanguardia newspaper that they were trying to stop unlicensed renting through such platforms.

"There are neighbourhoods in which there are more beds for tourists than residents," he said. The prospect of a new cruise ship terminal, to be Barcelona's sixth - a fifth is underway - only promises further friction.

In May, the Port of Barcelona confirmed talks with operator MSC Cruceros, despite Ms Colau having been elected on a platform of opposing more terminals. The council has said those involved will have to ensure the impact on the city is positive.

"It makes my hairs stand on end," Mrs Gabaldas said.

Telegraph, UK

This article 'Gaudi hates you': Barcelona natives turn on tourists was originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald.

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