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Tourist economies… and politics August 15, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A really thought-provoking article in the Guardian last week on protests against tourists that are springing up across the continent. In some instances – Barcelona for example, it is entirely understandable given the sheer weight of numbers of tourists involved. I’ve not been in a decade to there but the numbers even in 2005-7 were incredible. I was in Seville, Granada and Malaga earlier this year, at Easter, at the height of the religious festivals and again numbers were very great, but in a way the fact of those festivals made the influx perhaps more ‘bearable’ in some odd way (though reading about it online it appears not entirely dissimilar to the 12th in the North a fair contingent of Spanish flee the cities in order to get away from the events).

There are new factors at play…

For Duncan McCann, researcher at the New Economics Foundation, there are a number of factors underlying the recent tensions, including the rise of Airbnb, an increasing number of tourists making short city breaks, and the burden of cruise ships. Both city breakers and cruise ship passengers are far more likely to remain in a city centre rather than explore further afield.
The perceived threat of terrorism in north Africa has also led to an increase in tourists holidaying in the Mediterranean over the past two years.

Even here in Dublin it is striking – and I cycle down past the so-called Point Village every day – how many cruise ships are coming into the port. But I tend to avoid the most tourist filled areas, and yet Temple Bar et al when I do visit them are often very crowded. Perhaps the trick is to restrict tourists to very clearly defined areas – but that can be difficult in a place like Barcelona.

Anyhow, there’s more…

“These shifts are really putting pressure on these locations, increasing the numbers and reducing the spread of the tourists,” says McCann. “Once you factor in the layout of a lot of these continental cities – old, and with a network of smaller streets – people start to get the sense that they’re being taken over.”

And this very interesting analysis:

He adds that this plays into the wider politics of the continent, with economies not seen to be working for people, and politics not saddressing the problems.
“Though tourist numbers have increased, I am not sure they have increased enough in five years to cause this much agitation,” he says. “What has really changed? A lot is that politics isn’t out for the ordinary person any more. Until that is addressed I don’t think we’ll see this protest movement subside.”

It certainly seems to indicate a wider disquiet and one that isn’t rooted necessarily in the supposed cause. There are obvious dangers if that disquiet isn’t addressed in progressive ways.


1. Joe - August 15, 2017

Great article on this in the IT recently. The youth wing of the Catalan anarchists (their grown up wing in power currently with the regular Catalan nationalists?)… anyway the youth wing are spraying a great slogan on the walls in Barcelona: “If it’s called tourist season, how come we are not allowed to shoot them?”


2. fergal - August 16, 2017

I’m surprised nobody from the government has come out seeking to divert these millions of tourists to our fair green isle- I mean this is how our industrial policy works.


3. EWI - August 16, 2017

In some parts of Dublin, it’s noticable how much strain is being put on the public transport system during the summer months with hordes of Spanish and Italian tourists. It’s not at all funny if it means several buses going by in the morning over the course of an hour, packed to the gills with tourist groups being accomodated in certain colleges.


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