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A busy street crossing in Barcelona

Amsterdam and Barcelona make a pact against tourism overcrowding

Amsterdam and Barcelona make a pact against tourism overcrowding

The two cities stand together for the idea of more sustainable approaches to holiday and travel practices

Just before the start of this past weekend, the mayors of Amsterdam and Barcelona, Femke Halsema and Ada Colau, reaffirmed their alliance to stand against the trend of tourism overcrowding and to promote more sustainable policies for tourism development. The Dutch capital’s mayor visited her counterpart to share experiences from their work in that field and to touch base in the wake of a resurging post-COVID tourism impetus.

The two capitals have been working together for years, and have pushed for similar measures, such as regulating hotel activity in the central areas or fighting against illegal tourist flats and the overcrowding of certain areas. 

Curbing illegal tourist accommodation and other measures

The mayor of Barcelona has announced the reactivation of the shock plan against illegal tourist flats, a plan promoted by the current municipal government that gave good results. The effort put an end to the uncontrolled proliferation of this activity, going from about 6,000 illegal tourist flats to a very low number, thanks to the inspection and sanctioning activity.

"With the recovery of tourism after the pandemic, we do not want this activity to return to the city," said Colau, who recalled that economic activity "works better if there is regulation."

The reactivation of the plan allows a team of more than 70 people to work, including 25 ‘street viewers’ to prevent the return of illegal activity. More than 21,000 ads have already been tracked on digital platforms, and only about 360 flats offering tourist activity without permission have been detected. 

The platforms will be asked to immediately withdraw these announcements. The corresponding proceedings will be initiated, which can end with a fine of between 3,000 and 60,000 euros.

It is also planned to launch an information campaign to remind visitors not to stay in unlicensed flats, and to the public that tourist accommodation services cannot be offered without permission.

The mayor of Amsterdam praised Barcelona's leadership and the commitment of the two capitals to work in a network and in coordination with other European cities. Femke Halsema has also been in favour of limiting the activity of airports, especially with regard to short flights that have their alternative by train. 

She emphasized the importance of continuing to collaborate and share experiences in order to work for sustainable and non-crowded tourist activity. 

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