The picturesque Catalan town of Begur – the upmarket jewel of the Costa Brava and Baix Empordà region – is clamping down on holiday rentals and other tourist activities as the pressure from tourism grows.
The Town Council of Begur has just announced it will introduce a one year moratorium on all new holiday rental licences, of which there are currently 1,464 already granted in the municipality, which has a year-round population of around 4,000 people, swelling to 40,000 in high season. So there will be no more holiday rental licences granted in the Begur municipality for at least one year.
Begur has been a second-home Mecca for Barcelona’s posh crowd for many decades, but is now attracting an unsustainable number of tourists from Europe and further afield. Begur’s infrastructure is said to be creaking under the pressure, like many other beautiful places on the Mediterranean coast attracting the attention of a growing number of tourists in an increasingly globalised world.
Backers of the moratorium argue that holiday rentals reduce the supply of housing available to locals and drive up the price of accommodation, whilst ever more bars, restaurants and hotels open up catering to tourists rather than needs of locals. These are well-known arguments already deployed in favour of restricting holiday rentals in other tourist hotspots like Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca.
The Town Council intend to draw up a special plan to incorporate holiday rental activity into the town plan with a view to promoting “balanced growth” and working towards a “quality offering of all tourist accommodation,” including holiday rentals. The first step will be a study of the local population and housing stock, reports the Spanish press.
Justifying this latest measure that limits the ability of property owners to earn money renting their homes to locals, which comes hard on the heels of another moratorium on all new licences for restaurants, bars and hotels, Town Council officials argue that “an excessive supply never helps to attract quality tourism and the search for excellence.”
So yet another tourist hotspot is forced to take measures to deal with the Airbnb effect of landlords preferring tourists over locals. That said the Airbnb effect should be less noticeable in Begur, where so many properties are second homes already, and therefore never available as homes for locals.
Some residents of Begur will be sceptical of any measure introduced by the current Town Council given what a cockup they made of a waste recycling scheme introduced last year that simply encourages fly-tipping. It would be difficult to come up with a more badly designed scheme.