It’s not just the weather that’s heating up in Spain’s second city.
It’s finally happened. After years of surging public opposition to unrestrained growth of the city’s tourist industry, Barcelona has witnessed a rash of coordinated attacks against tourist targets in the last week. It all began last Friday when a gang of four masked men slashed the tires of an open-top bus filled with holidaymakers and sprayed the windscreen with the slogan “Tourism kills neighborhoods.”
Responsibility for the ambush was claimed by Arran, the youth wing of the radical separatist CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) party, which was also behind a video posted this week of members vandalizing tourist bicycles. In recent months at least seven hotels have been vandalized by protesters in Barcelona. And graffiti telling tourists to go home has become a ubiquitous part of the urban landscape.
The attacks have fueled concerns among the city’s business community that the city’s image as a major tourism destination could soon suffer. Most local citizens in Barcelona, while wary of supporting Arran’s extreme methods, are more sympathetic to some of the group’s misgivings about mass tourism. In June, respondents to the Council’s annual public opinion barometer identified tourism as the biggest problem the city faces: worse than poverty, crime, and even unemployment and general work conditions, which have topped the ranking every year since 2009…