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Barcelona tourism boom contributes to 20% rise in complaints

The drunken behaviour of British tourists in Barcelona contributed to a rise in complaints to police of almost a fifth last summer.

All-night parties, public nudity and drunkenness were among the reasons for a record 113,707 complaints between July and September, a rise of 17,000, or 18.5%, on the same peak period in 2015.

Drinking in the street attracted the most complaints, with 29,882 reports to police, compared with 25,935 the year before.

Spain experienced a boom in tourism last year as holidaymakers avoided countries that were the target of terrorist attacks.

About 75 million travelled to the country, up 10% on 2015.

Barcelona’s council fined the home-sharing websites Airbnb and HomeAway €600,000 (£530,000) each in November for listing unlicensed tourist apartments for short-term lets.

Catalonia was the most popular destination, attracting 17 million visitors.

The British were the largest group of foreign tourists by nationality, with 16.9 million spending their holidays in Spain.

But the city of Gaudí and Miró is struggling to cope with mass tourism fuelled by cheap flights to the Catalan capital.

Daniel Pardo, of the Assembly for Sustainable Tourism, which reports unregistered tourist flats to the authorities, told The Times: “Drunken behaviour, noise and problems with transport are just part of the problem.

“A bigger problem is how residents are being squeezed out of the city centre by luxury hotels and illegal tourist flats. A small circle is making all the money from this.”

Barcelona’s council fined the home-sharing websites Airbnb and HomeAway €600,000 (£530,000) each in November for listing unlicensed tourist apartments for short-term lets.

Janet Sanz, head of urban development at the council, said that the authorities planned to reclassify the city according to zones. In areas where there are too many hotels, the authorities will reduce the number. In other areas, where there are fewer tourists, they will encourage hotels to open.

“Many people are looking to see what Barcelona does about the problem of the pressure from tourism. We have to get it right,” she said.

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