Introduction: Barcelona, a city of 1.6 million people, was visited by 8.2 million tourists last year. For decades, city governments of all political stripes operated under the assumption that ‘growth is good’. Each annual increase in visitor numbers was announced with glee, with assurances the sector would bring immense economic benefits to the city.
But around three years ago, signs began to appear that the pro-tourism consensus was crumbling. It became clear that income generated by tourism was concentrated in the hands of a minority, while its negative consequences were borne by everyone else.