Girona calls for 'expat census' as anti-mass tourism sentiment in Spain grows

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
Girona calls for 'expat census' as anti-mass tourism sentiment in Spain grows
Up to 30 cycling tourism-related businesses have been created in recent years in central Girona. Photo: Eat Sleep Cycle/Pexels

The Catalan city of Girona has seen acts of vandalism against cycling businesses and a new neighbourhood association set up to protest against mass tourism and expat “gentrification”, as locals in another city in Spain says it’s “reached its limit”.


Residents of the beautiful northeastern city of Girona, ‘discovered’ internationally after it appeared in hit TV series Game of Thrones, appear to have had enough of their tourism-driven economic model. 

Neighbours have set up the “Girona Tourism Decrease Platform” (Plataforma Decreixement Turístic Girona) to put pressure on the local government so that it addresses the issues of “overdevelopment” and “gentrification,” and it "abandons the ‘anything goes’ approach to tourism".


In its manifesto, the group explains how "for years Girona has become a postcard city for tourism, fairs and festivals", which has been "a death sentence for its neighbourhoods and those who live in them," while only benefitting "the business of a few people".

They also denounce the mass arrival of wealthy “expats”, who have allegedly turned parts of the city into "totally elitist ghetto areas with their backs to people's basic needs."


This has contributed to "inflation, job insecurity, difficulty in accessing housing, water restrictions and closure of small businesses", they claim, along with the destruction of local culture and less usage of the Catalan language.

"As a territory, we are at the limit. As citizens, we cannot take it anymore ," they conclude.


As a result, they propose starting a census of “expats” living in the city. Cities and towns in Spain already have a registration system for all residents called the padrón, so it is unclear which foreigners could be added to this census, although it most likely refers to non-residents as well as residents.

Other measures suggested include locating illegal tourism accommodation in the city, limiting the number of hotel beds, increasing taxes for tourism businesses and in particular dealing with the issue of cycling tourism in Girona. 

According to disgruntled locals, the city has become a “cycling mecca” for professionals and aficionados in recent years, something encouraged by local authorities. 

READ ALSO: Where in Spain do locals 'hate' tourists?

From shops selling and renting bikes, to repair stores, travel agencies focusing on bicycle tourism and even specialised bars, the old quarter of Girona is dominated by bikes and cycling-related businesses. 


“Go home” and “enough with mass mass tourism” have been graffitied the façades of seven of these 30+ cycling businesses in Girona in recent days. 

Simmering resentment towards the negative consequences of mass tourism, in particular with regard to the proliferation of holiday lets and their impact on rising rents, has been on the up this year in Spain.

The Canary Islands held mass protests against their tourism model in April, and locals in Málaga, Mallorca and Ibiza have planned demonstrations for similar reasons in May and June.




Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also