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Barcelona - the end of the tourism dream?

Barcelona town hall.

Is the party over for Barcelona? The successful campaign to position the Catalan city as a mecca for art lovers and tourists has started to create a crisis for residents and politicians alike.

At our most recent forum with the Mayor of London's Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, we discussed how residents were starting to use data to monitor noise levels in the residential areas of the Spanish city. Noise is just one problem of the tourism invasion that is a result of a very popular and successful campaign by Barcelona to attract visitors in their millions.

The Daily Telegraph this month reported that 15 million visitors arrived in the city last year but the problems lie in the 'lack of controls' surrounding tourism such as the rise in sites like Airbnb which are stated to be 'strangling the rental market, the violence and public disorder surrounding the drug trade and the growth of illegal street selling'.

The newspaper claims that Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona will face a motion of censure this week voted through by opposition parties which say she has allowed 'over tourism'. Fights 'between rival drug dealers in the Old Town neighbourhood of El Raval...have also generated concern', the paper reports.

Future Cities Forum was in Barcelona some days ago amidst heightened police station alert after another terrorist struck on the anniversary of the Las Ramblas attack, but tourists seemed unaffected as they strolled the streets and visited the various Gaudi monuments and older medieval attractions of the city.

Our film with the Ferran Barenblit, Director of Richard Meier-designed Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) in El Raval focussed on the help that this shining white building was giving to the old town and a new dawn of regeneration and promise to a city that is still evolving. Watch Ferran speaking to us on this topic:

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