Radical Basques against mass tourism in Spain

After Barcelona and Mallorca attacks, protest in San Sebastian

04 August, 18:17

    (ANSAmed) - MADRID, AUGUST 4 - The campaign against mass tourism being conducted by radical independents in Barcelona, Valencia and the Balearic Islands has made its way to the historic centre of San Sebastian in the Basque Country, an autonomous community in northern Spain.

    The slogans "Tourist go home! Welcome refugees" appeared on walls in the capital city of the Guipuzcoa province.

    Ernai, the youth branch of the radical left-wing independent party Sortu, has planned an anti-tourism demonstration on August 17 with the slogan - 'zuen turismoa, gatzeon miseria', meaning "your tourism, young people's misery".

    The march will coincide with the traditional "Semana Grande" week of festivities in San Sebastian, which each year marks the peak of mass tourism to the city.

    Spain has seen record tourism in the first half of 2017 with 37 million visitors, up 14.8% compared to last year, according to figures from the country's National Statistics Institute (INE).

    The planned march in San Sebastian is part of other demonstrations that took place last week in the 'Paisos Catalans', the Catalan countries: Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, and Valencia.

    The demonstrations were coordinated by the radical left-wing independent and anti-capitalist organisation Arran, aimed at tourism targets.

    The worst took place last Thursday when a group of activists attacked a tourist coach in the city of Gaudi, threatening the driver with a knife to force him off the bus and then using the knife to slash the bus' tyres.

    The activists covered the bus with slogans including "tourism kills neighborhoods".

    This violent display concerns the local autonomous government, the Generalitat, which has begun to fear the radicalisation of the secessionist process that has thus far been peaceful.

    The coach attack, which was justified by the Candidatura di Unita' Popolare (CUP) party that supports the government of Carles Puigdemont and the unilateral secessionist referendum called for October 1, was followed by attacks against tourist-use bicycles in Barcelona.

    The most recent of those took place at sunrise on Friday, posted in a video on YouTube.

    These were preceded by at least seven acts of vandalism in hotels in Catalonia that have been registered since the beginning of the year and reported by hotel industry personnel.

    Meanwhile in Palma on the island of Majorca, about 20 youth from the Arran group held a demonstration in a restaurant in the tourist port of Moll Vell on July 22, lighting flares and throwing confetti on diners. Other demonstration activities carried out by the group have included writing anti-capitalist slogans on yachts docked in the port.

    The campaign against mass tourism cites the gentrification of entire neighborhoods, which leads to indiscriminate raises in rent prices; large hotel chains; as well as private speculation on the part of private B&B owners.

    "We're tired of the occupation by tourism businesses on the public spaces of our neighborhood. React! Join us in the battle," said Arran in its video appeal on YouTube.

    The Barcelona administration of Mayor Ada Colau is also being targeted for not having done enough to stop speculation, despite its decision to freeze the issuing of tourism lodging licenses.

    Spanish Industry and Tourism Minister Alvaro Nadal has spoken out in opposition to the attacks, which have opened a gap between the government of Puigdemont and CUP.

    "Intolerance cannot tarnish the image of an industry that's one-of-a-kind in the world," Nadal said. (ANSAmed).

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