Walls in European towns and cities popular with tourists have been daubed with various messages offering a welcome to refugees and migrants, while rejecting tourism. The graffiti has been seen in Berlin, Venice and in particular across Spain, from Barcelona and Malaga to the Balearics.
In recent months many Spanish cities have announced measures to restrict tourism growth in response to their citizens’ anger at the destruction of their neighbourhood’s character. The Balearics have launched a new tourism tax that starts this July. And Barcelona has set a limit on new tourism accommodation and attempted to halt the growth of Airbnb in the city.
On the other hand, the Spanish city is looking for more refugees to come. Last year, as part of a campaign called “Barcelona Refugee City”, they city’s officials prepared 50 locations for up to 2749 refugees to stay . Yet by the end of February 2016, just 18 had arrived in Spain, and Barcelona’s refugee shelters were still empty.
“This fills us with rage,” Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, told AFP in February. “The city is ready at the technical level, all our services are ready and residents are waiting with open arms. But they don’t arrive,” adding, “In the summer we will go to the beach for a swim, in the same sea where each week people die because Europe is not providing safe passage.”