Residents of Barcelona and cruise passengers agree that the city is overcrowded

MADRID, 11 Jun.

Residents of Barcelona and cruise passengers agree that the city is overcrowded


More than half of the cruise tourists consider the city of Barcelona to be overcrowded. An opinion that coincides with a large part of the resident population that ensures that the high concentration of visitors in some areas of the city affects their daily trips and their quality of life, according to research led by the Rovira i Virgili University (URV) of Tarragona.

The Visitmob urban mobility project, which has carried out almost 4,000 surveys of tourists who stay overnight in Barcelona, ​​others who come to spend the day, occasional visitors and cruise passengers, ensures that although 90% of cruise passengers define their experience visiting the city as "pleasant", city ​​and 80% have felt "safe", more than half -53%- highlight having met too many people when it was time to enjoy the places they visited.

The problem of overcrowding is also detected among the resident population. Thus, 36.2% affirm that mobility in public space is conditioned by tourist activity, which also affects the feeling of comfort on the public transport service (28.5%) and the punctuality of these means ( 25.6%). The figures obtained increase up to 10 points in the case of people residing in tourist neighborhoods.

The geolocation included in the study made it possible to verify that the space-time concentration is very high in certain points of the city. The Ciutat Vella district is visited by 100% of cruise passengers with an average stay time of two hours, of which more than an hour is done on foot. Behind are the Eixample and Gràcia. Districts like Nou Barris or Sant Andreu do not receive any visits from cruise tourism.

The data also indicates a clear concentration on certain icons of the city. The greatest flow, in the case of cruise passengers, is concentrated in the vicinity of Las Ramblas (96.7%), Plaza de Catalunya and Passeig de Gràcia (73%) and also in the Sagrada Família (63.1%). Thus, Las Ramblas is the space in which tourists and excursionists coincide with about 34%, but only 23% of day visitors from outside Barcelona visit it.

Of all the cruise tourists interviewed, half had already visited Barcelona before and, of these, 78% also repeated the same route.

The study shows that the presence of tourists generates dissatisfaction for 23% of residents when it comes to moving around the city, it also conditions them when choosing a means of transport and they have even stopped visiting specific areas of the city because of tourism.

These changes in mobility patterns have been observed above all in men, older people, those of higher and lower socioeconomic status, and those who reside in tourist neighborhoods.

The results of the study warn that the effects of mass tourism, in addition to causing daily grievance among the resident population, also lead to a loss of feeling of belonging to the place where they live. This feeling of being uprooted is accentuated in older people, who are more sensitive to the changes that have occurred in the last twenty years, according to the study

Similar percentages are detected when evaluating the quality of life of the resident population. The presence of tourists negatively affects the quality of life of 17% of the people interviewed, a figure that increases 6 points among residents of tourist districts.

The researcher points out that the most sustainable tourist mobility patterns in the city --on foot or by public transport-- are the ones that concentrate most of the trips. Approximately 80% of journeys are made on foot and, if not, the alternative is usually public transport, with the metro as the first option."

Even visitors from outside the Barcelona metropolitan region who spend a day in the city mostly arrive by train, and those who do so often leave their car parked at one point and continue their visit by public transport.

When asked about the policies restricting access to the most polluting vehicles in the city, visitors from outside Barcelona who come to spend the day are favourable, followed by the creation of priority Bus-Vao bike lanes and the reduction of parking space. circulation and surface parking in favor of pedestrian space.

On the contrary, the creation of an entrance toll to Barcelona to improve its public transport has received a very low acceptance, with more than 55% of negative responses.

The study concludes that it would be essential to improve the management of spaces that suffer the greatest concentration to reduce the impact of this type of tourism among residents.

With regard to public transport management plans, it is suggested to take into account the high concentration that occurs in the points most frequented by tourism, in order to decongest services and improve the perception of the resident population. It is also proposed to rethink public transport tickets so that the extra cost is assumed by the visiting population and not the resident population.

Regarding personal mobility vehicles such as scooters and the tourist use of the bicycle, it is recommended to rethink the spaces available to use them in order to avoid risks for the resident population. It is also proposed to reinforce habits related to driving and knowledge of traffic regulations or behavior patterns of these vehicles.

Another of the identified challenges refers to the changes that the commercial landscape of the most touristic neighborhoods has had, which has had a strong impact on the health and well-being of citizens due to the overcrowding of public roads and the increase in the terraces and the derived noise pollution.

Lastly, to reduce access to the city by own vehicle, it is proposed to improve the coverage of interurban public transport, especially with regard to destinations on the Maresme coast, Garraf, Costa Daurada and Costa Brava.