3 July 2015 – Cinco Días
The mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, has fulfilled one of the promises she made during the election campaign for the municipal elections with the launch of a one-year moratorium for the granting of tourist licences in the city. “Tourism is one of the city’s main assets and we have to take care of it and make it sustainable”, she said.
Colau’s announcement had been expected by the market, since it had been one of her main promises during the election campaign, but it did not take shape until yesterday. Barcelona’s City Council, governed by Barcelona en Comú, has taken the decision to freeze licences for at least one year. The town council’s aim is to submit a Special Plan for the Regulation of Tourist Accommodation during the first quarter of next year, although it does not rule out extending that period by another year.
Some of the most iconic hotel projects being carried out in Barcelona include the conversions of Torre Agbar, the Deutsche Bank tower and the Henkel building. But, according to Janet Sanz, deputy mayoress of ecology, urban development and mobility, the actual list is longer and includes around thirty properties. “We are not saying that none of these projects will go ahead, simply that we are beginning a process of reflection on our tourism model”.
This moratorium, which comes in addition to the one that already exists in the neighbourhood of Ciutat Vella, is intended to allow time for an in-depth analysis of the stock of tourist accommodation in the city, so that the existing supply and the economic and social impact of tourism can be evaluated and diagnosed. The freeze will affect all establishments, from luxury hotels to hostels, so that a “calm debate” can be held about the situation in the city. Plans are afoot at the Deutsche Bank tower, which KKH purchased last year, to build a five star Four Seasons hotel, costing €150 million, and the plan is to open a Grand Hyatt hotel in the Torre Agbar, which Emin Capital acquired in 2013. Others, such as the property being renovated by the construction company owned by Josep Lluís Núñez, the former President of FC Barcelona, will be excused from the moratorium.
In terms of Spanish hotel chains, the moratorium may affect Barceló, which is planning to open two new establishments in the city: one on Avenida Diagonal, 414 with views of the Casa de les Punxes, and the other, the conversion of the former headquarters of Nubiola Pigmentos, on the corner of Pau Claris and Gran Vía, which is still in its early phases. Nearby, one of Melia’s ME hotels, with 173 rooms, on the corner of Calle Casp and Paseo de Gracia may be affected. (…). Iberostar, Room Mate and Praktik Hotels could also be affected. (…).
The market regards the moratorium as a sign of insecurity for the entry of new investors. “The decision creates legal and administrative insecurity and leaves investors interested in entering the city on stand by”, says Inmaculada Ranero, CEO of Christie + Co for Spain and Portugal. (…).
Original story: Cinco Días
Translation: Carmel Drake