A picturesque fishing village on the outskirts of Barcelona is under siege — from drunken Britons. To the horror of locals, young tourists are flocking to the fashionable neighbourhood of Barceloneta for outrageous all-night raves. Now residents have swung into action to prevent the area from becoming another Magaluf or Ibiza, which have embraced boozy visitors with raucous bar crawls and cheap drinks deals.
Protests involving up to 200 demonstrators began a week ago — and have continued daily since. Blocks of flats rented to holidaymakers have reportedly been targeted, with chants of “out, out, out, drunken tourists”.
One local, Andres Antebi, said: “Imagine you’re in a tiny house, with three children, unemployed, with no money for vacations ... and you have to put up with the screams and fiesta of tourists next door. It’s unbearable.” Others said the authorities had been too slow to address the situation. Oriol Casabella, who leads the local neighbourhood association, said: “We’re tired of low-cost, drunken tourism. It’s killing our neighbourhood and dissuading other types of tourists. It’s Magaluf all over again.”
The outpouring of anger came after one group of male tourists ran naked through a supermarket. Others had unashamedly urinated on doorsteps. Before the 1992 Olympics, Barceloneta, in the city’s Ciutat Vella district, was a pretty fishing village. But after the Games came the tourists — many of them British, and many of them behaving badly. Now locals fear that Barcelona’s reputation as a cultural hub treasured for its impressive architecture and fresh seafood dishes could become a thing of the past.
They believe the cheap flights from the UK offered by budget airlines could see their hometown follow in the footsteps of nearby Magaluf. One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “They come here to do what they cannot do in their own countries.’ Jaume Collboni, a local councillor, told The Times: `This area is on the point of collapse. We don’t want it become like other resorts.” Other areas of Spain have already begun to clamp down on inappropriate behaviour by issuing fines.
Indeed, Barcelona was among several places to introduce penalties of up to £240 (Dh1,460) for wearing only a bikini or swimming trunks away from the beach. On-the-spot fines are also being issued to those who are drinking alcohol on the streets. But despite these measures, residents in Barceloneta have passed pictures to local newspaper La Vanguardia showing a gaggle of nude male tourists flouting the rules in a supermarket. Another photo showed two women frolicking in a paddling pool in the middle of the road.
Barcelona city council has agreed to send more police to restore order to the area, and ensure tourists comply with bylaws designed to curb antisocial behaviour.
The unrest follows several high-profile examples of bad behaviour in British tourism hot spots. Barceloneta has changed dramatically since 1992, with billionaires now docking their yachts at a purpose-built marina there. Roman Abramovich, the Russian owner of Chelsea Football Club, regularly has his 535-feet yacht refitted at a workshop there.
The area’s soaring popularity has seen a boom in unlicensed tourist flats, with clients arriving at all hours, day and night. Locals renting flats in the village fear they could be driven out by landlords hoping to cash in on the tourist trade.