San Sebastian and its scenic bay attract increasingly larger tourists crowds, Source: Depositphotos

San Sebastian prohibits establishment of new hotels and Airbnb flats

San Sebastian prohibits establishment of new hotels and Airbnb flats

The central area of the popular Basque city has been described by the local government as ‘saturated’

The tourist crowds’ probably most beloved Spanish Basque city – San Sebastian – has decided to shut down the expansion of visitor accommodation facilities, including hotels and private short-term rental flats with the argument that its central areas are now “saturated”.

The mayor of the coastal city, Eneko Goia, had proclaimed a decision to move towards such restrictions already back in March. Back then, he only talked about “limiting”, but at the start of October, his language became more radical announcing an end to the “progressive and relevant growth” that the local hospitality sector had experienced in recent years.

The influx of tourists has increased by more than 85% between 2005 and 2019, which has also led to an increase in the lodging offer to meet the growing demand for overnight stays. This, however, has in turn affected the quality of life for local residents and their habitual usage of the public spaces in the central areas of San Sebastian. Furthermore, the phenomenon has contributed to worsening

The housing crisis situation

It’s become a common sight to see anti-tourism graffiti on the city facades, which reflects the mood of the locals.

That’s why, in the spring of 2024, the local government will submit a decision, to be voted at the municipal plenary session, which will ban “the implementation of new lodging uses (in all modalities) in the Centro-Parte Vieja, Gros, Antiguo-Ondarreta, Ibaeta and the Paseo de Francia area”.

All of these districts form the central area of the city, which is where most tourist lodgings are to be found and thus it is where there is a risk of harming the peaceful coexistence between residents and visitors to San Sebastian.

With that, the Basque city will follow in the footsteps of Florence (Italy), whose mayor Dario Nardella decided to say no to new licenses for Airbnb flats in the historic centre, this past summer.



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