Barcelona is one of the most popular destinations for tourists the world over– and it’s not difficult to understand why. The Spanish second city is a perfect blend of the old and new, with cultural delights, wide open spaces, and more to do than a person could ever truly have the time to see. Barcelona is, for many people, the one area in Spain that they wish to visit more than any other.
However, the past 12 months have not been kind to Barcelona’s reputation around the world. Given the prominence this city has in plans for travelers, it seemed a pertinent time to discuss exactly what has been going on, so that your future travel plans aren’t disrupted by myths and confusion. Is it still worth looking to find cheap flights to Barcelona and visit the city, or should you seek other destinations for a Spanish holiday instead?
The First Blow
Barcelona found itself hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons in August of 2017, when stories began to emerge that tourists were being targeted in the city. These one-off moments of rebellion soon coalesced into outright protests, with local citizens insisting that Barcelona had too many tourists, that the economy couldn’t cope, and that the tourists were damaging the city.
Not exactly inviting if you have always wanted to visit Barcelona.
As with most things, it’s worth keeping in mind perspective. Tourism has had its consequences for Barcelona, but the same is true of any large city. Overall, tourism has been more beneficial to Barcelona than it has detrimental; the city’s economy is based on a vibrant tourism industry, which is likely why the protests fizzled out, and have largely been forgotten since. So while there is a small section of the city who may dislike tourists, it’s by no means a widespread issue, so you shouldn’t feel deterred from visiting. If you want to be extra cautious, take the necessary steps to ensure that you’re a “good tourist”, and you won’t go far wrong.
The Catalonia Issue
Barcelona — and the entire Catalan region of Spain — was once again thrust into the headlines, when a referendum was held on Catalonian independence. However, Spain did not recognize the referendum and called it illegal. Catalonia disagreed, with their government declaring independence at the end of October.
This, in turn, led to Spain declaring direct rule over Catalonia and promising new elections.
The idea of visiting a region that is experiencing political unrest may be worrying, but the reality is that the Spain vs. Catalonia problem is nothing new. Yes, tensions have escalated, but this is a city that has coped with arguments from separatists for years. There are few signs the region is struggling due to the political issue, so it is not something that should deter a tourist.
So Should You Go?
There’s no reason not to. The tourist protests were isolated incidents, while the political problems are historic and thus the city is able to cope with them relatively well. If you have always dreamt of travelling to Barcelona, then the above issues shouldn’t hold you back.