I’m writing today from my balcony in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. It’s summertime. It’s hot. Tourism is at its highest. I look out below as selfie sticks extend, sunburns worsen, and loudness takes over.
Living in the Gothic Quarter has been one of the best, yet worst decisions I’ve made while living in Barcelona. I’m surrounded by beautiful architecture, fantastic shops are at my doorstep, and my favorite coffee shop is just around the corner. However, also at my doorstep are hundreds of tourists. I can’t even exit my building without stumbling into a pack of loud men celebrating some lad’s bachelor party or a squad of girls in flip flops heading towards the sea.
Every day I have to pass — nudging through swarms of tourists — several major tourist attractions such as Plaça Sant Jaume, the Barcelona Cathedral, and the infamous La Rambla. Today Sant Jaume is full of group tours, the queue for the cathedral is already wrapping around the local vintage market nearby, and La Rambla offers no breathing room as you navigate among the chaos of people overcrowding the once-upon-a-time luxurious street.
I can only imagine how many selfies and photographs I’ve appeared in the background of at this point.
Barcelona is no secret to the universe, with more than 30 million visiting this Mediterranean city every year. But the city isn’t thriving, it’s dying. Financially, it’s doing well. However, the city is being ruined by overtourism and locals aren’t happy.
Overtourism: when an influx of tourists overwhelm a destination, making tourism unsustainable
What gives? Shouldn’t the locals be happy? They’re making money and their city is world famous. Simply, they’re unhappy that their city has turned into an adult amusement park full of bachelor and bachelorette parties, loud and disrespectful tourists, and countless Airbnb apartment rentals.
parquetematización: the act of becoming a theme park