April 14, 2024

News and Political Commentary

European tourist hotspot wants to make visitors less annoying to locals by having them buy heat pumps and solar panels for area schools

2 min read

One of Europe’s top travel destinations doesn’t like tourists — or at least you’d get that impression reading some of the unwelcoming slogans locals have graffitied across Barcelona.

The city now has a plan that could curb some of this tourism phobia, while also helping with adaptation to climate change.

Barcelona’s city hall launched a new strategy to direct €100 million ($108 million) from its tourist tax – the charge travelers see at the bottom of their hotel bill — to a fund that will install heat pumps and solar panels in state-owned schools. 

Using this tax for clear, long-term green benefits could change the perception of the disruption caused by the city’s guests. Barcelona, the home of 1.6 million people, every year hosts about 7 million tourists, who add pressure to already strained services, such as waste removal. To deal with that, local authorities have charged a tourist tax of €2.75 ($3) per person, for every night spent in the city, and will increase that to €3.25 ($4) from April 1.

“So far we have spent these taxes on compensating the impact tourists have on the city, including cleaning services, safety and public transport,” says Jordi Valls, Barcelona’s head of economic and tourism promotion. “This year we’ve decided to go a step further and spend the tax on financing public services from a climate point of view.”

Nestled on the Mediterranean shore, Barcelona’s climate is changing fast as the world warms. The city has become hotter and drier in recent years, with authorities declaring a state of emergency for water earlier this month amid a three-year drought that’s the worst on record.

High temperatures and longer heat waves have forced city hall to set up climate refuges where people can cool off in July and August. But increasing heat during school terms in June and September are making children — and the classrooms they spend so much time in — a new focus.

With the…

Laura Millan, Bloomberg

2024-02-19 08:05:38

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