A sightseeing bus in Barcelona was the target of an anti-tourism attack last month. | Twitter


The president of the Spanish federation of travel agency associations, Rafael Gallego, acknowledged yesterday that there is a good deal of concern about recent anti-tourism incidents.

"This tourismphobia has worried us since last summer. It was then that the problem really started to harden and when the minister for tourism in the Balearics, Biel Barceló, made statements on the matter. The federation warned him of the risk of protests."

In 2016, a few graffiti slogans appeared. The federation noted what could happen if political leaders continued to speak in the way they were. In Barcelona, there already were issues. Certain permissive statements were being made by politicians from the same party and with the ideology of Podemos. "We warned that there could be radicalisation, as we have seen."

The federation, he continued, is worried about the effect on the image of the Spanish brand. Some groups may be from the left but they are "more fascistic than the far-right". "They could cause a serious incident involving those who visit us."

Gallego added that the current increase in the number of tourists is because of insecurity elsewhere. "In the next few years, though, we will not see such increased numbers because Tunisia and Egypt will be recovering, albeit slowly." He added that growth in city tourism in Spain owed something to terrorist incidents in France, Germany and Belgium.

He singled out the president of the Valencia regional government for praise. "There should be more statements like this of Ximo Puig, who has argued that there is not a single tourist too many. This is the attitude, I think."

Political authorities should therefore not give any indication of permissiveness towards tourismphobia. He identified Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona, as someone whose position "should not be adopted". The tourismphobia that began in 2016 with graffiti and has moved on to protests at hotels, restaurants and marinas creates the risk of "real violence". "Then, we will see who has been responsible for it."