Barcelona To Ban Low-Quality Offensive Tourist Shops

Cheesy souvenir shops follow tourists wherever they go. But not anymore in Barcelona. The popular European destination is expanding its “protected zones” and banning “offensive” souvenirs, as well as tourist apartments

Mass tourism has brought several inconveniences to Spain in recent years. The proliferation of souvenir shops in traditional residential neighborhoods has prompted the local government to seek regulation.  

With the new ordinance, visitors will no longer find such shops in areas like the famous Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Horta-Guinardó, Sant Antoni, Camp Nou, and around Casa Vicens in Gràcia.

But most importantly, Barcelona is banning all souvenirs containing offensive, “tacky and tasteless messages that degrade Barcelona’s image as a tourist destination.” 

ERC’s deputy spokesperson Jordi Coronas gave some examples of the “offensive” souvenirs that can be easily spotted when strolling through the very-visited Ciutat Vella. 

These include “penises with ‘Barcelona’ branded on them or T-shirts with sexist and homophobic messages,” content that the politicians say, “degrade the image of the city.” 

Thus, the City Hall is modifying the Special Plan for the Organization of Souvenir Shops.

It now focuses on providing a healthy balance between what locals need and what tourists want, especially in highly congested zones.

Economy Deputy Mayor Jordi Valls welcomed the new regulation but cautioned that implementing such restrictions might be challenging.

There are no “regulatory criteria on the content or aesthetic quality of souvenirs.” Bad taste can be very subjective.

“It is difficult to standardize it because what is considered in bad taste is a matter of very high subjectivity,” he said.

Coronas advocates for an “imaginative solution” to successfully introduce the new prohibition. 

But that is not the only change visitors to Barcelona will see in the years to come.

Looking to reduce a major housing crisis, Barcelona will ban all tourist apartments by November 2028.

In a bid to provide more long-term residences to local people, Mayor Jaume Collboni has refused to renew any tourist accommodation licenses from now on.

Also, since 2016, the city has shut down some 10,000 illegal tourist rentals. 

Housing prices have increased so much that those interested in buying a house will need to pay 68% more than a few years ago.

If purchasing a property is too much and you prefer to rent a home, be ready to pay 70% more than you paid when you came to the city back in 2014.

These circumstances have led Barcelona to make this unpopular decision. But keep in mind that this may be the future of other European destinations that are seeing their streets overrun by tourists.