There are still 10 days to go until Easter and Barcelona is once again full of tourists.
It is enough to walk through the most emblematic points (Gòtic, Rambla, Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, Camp Nou) to see that visitors have returned en masse.
In the absence of closed data for March from agents in the sector such as the Hoteliers Guild, restaurateurs or tourist guides do confirm the early recovery.
Airbnb pointed out a few days ago that the Catalan capital is among the 10 most sought after cities to spend the Easter holidays among German, French and American tourists.
The port of Barcelona begins to receive these days three cruises a day: on Monday the 3rd there will be five and on Friday the 14th, eight.
The return of tourism has also revived the unrest in stressed neighborhoods such as Barceloneta or those around Turó de la Rovira, the privileged viewpoint that during the Civil War housed bunkers and anti-aircraft batteries to defend the city.
The residents of Turó demonstrated last Friday against the overcrowding in space and its surroundings, in public transport, the waste left by visitors and the racket that they make on weekend nights.
The councilor of the Horta-Guinardó district, Rosa Alarcón, has admitted the problem and has announced that the City Council has advanced and reinforced the device of the Urban Police that was activated every year in high season at this point.
Garbage accumulated in the viewpoint after sunset.
The general director of the Restoration Guild, Roger Pallarols, confirms that this 2023 "there are more people and with more joy" in the city.
“There is a significant jump compared to the same dates last year.
In 2022 we had to wait for Easter to see the recovery and this year it has occurred before.
It is magnificent news that Barcelona maintains a good position and has the respect of the markets as a destination”, he celebrates.
In the restaurants and bars of Barcelona, tourism is "holidays and close on weekends" and "for conferences or long trips during the week".
Still missing, he points out, are tourists from Asia, the United States and Russia.
From the APIC tourist guide association, Inés Calzada also points out that at this time of the year there are more tourists than last year, when there were still restrictions on mobility and capacity.
And she gives concrete examples: it is more difficult for the guides to get tickets for their groups in the monuments.
“There are many students who had not been able to travel and now return: French, Dutch, Italian, this month there has been an avalanche of Italians.
Just like our students go back to Rome or Paris for the end of the year after years of not doing it due to the pandemic, ”she explains.
In addition, Calzada points to a notable increase in "small private groups (families or friends) who improvise and book at short notice."
The high influx of visitors led the residents of Guinardó and Carmel to demonstrate last week against the overcrowding of Turó de la Rovira.
Some 150 people protested and blocked one of the accesses to the viewpoint.
The residents of streets such as Maria Lavèrnia or Gran Vista denounce that the tourist mass has become "unsustainable" and blame the City Council for carrying out "zero management of a situation that they have actively and passively promoted".
Among them was Xavier Espinosa, a resident of the batteries since he was a child, when there were shacks on the hill.
At 56 years old, he laments that there are many more tourists and that they also "piss and vomit in the doorways of houses."
The works started by the City Council in December to fence off the viewpoint area to close it at night and prevent its degradation will end in May.
Every afternoon, especially on weekends, hundreds of people summoned by social networks congregate with sound equipment until dawn, according to residents like Daniel, a member of the Tres Turons neighborhood association who lives in Gran Vista.
"We are delighted that they come and enjoy the park and the viewpoint for the day," explains Pepa Cortés, another recently retired neighbor.
The problem is at sunset: "From so much noise they made at night, I went to work pissed off."
One of the demands of the residents is to evacuate the bunkers every night, as is the case in other areas of Barcelona.
"Why do they empty the squares in Gràcia at one o'clock, but not here?" criticizes Cortés.
Barcelona City Council does not know the number of interventions by the Urban Police in the Turó de la Rovira in the last year, as well as the number of calls from neighbors, because it only has the figures for the entire Carmel neighborhood.
Sources from the City Council stress that the local police "prevent conduct that is not permitted in public space, and if there are many people, the space is evacuated."
From the district they indicate that a capacity limitation has not yet been set, but that "work is being done".
Tourists coming down from Turó de la Rovira after sunset.Albert Garcia
Helena, another of the neighbors present at the rally on Friday, lives further down the hill and admits that she does not notice the noise of the night parties, but she does notice the effect of the bus when she takes it every morning: "We are going like canned sardines."
This and the images of taxi jams are other of the scenes that the neighbors regret that they are more frequent.
Sergi Abellán, also from the Turó de la Rovira association, denounces that the number of tourists who get on the municipal buses "exceeding the permitted capacity" causes many residents to be left on the ground, despite the fact that the City Council modified one of the lines to avoid saturation.
The protesters demand that only resident vehicles be allowed access to the streets around the bunkers, such as Dr. Bové or María Lavernia.
"After sunset, as many people come down as if they had just finished a concert," says Alejandro Martínez, who moved to Carmel 15 years ago.
He remembers that at the beginning of 2010 "nobody came" to the viewpoint that he now only goes up to bring visitors.
“Now there is no limit, they are there all year.
Tiktok has done a lot of damage."
He acknowledges that "it is a shame" to get to the situation of fencing the enclosure, but he believes that it is the only solution as long as residents can enter for free, like Park Güell, in the event that an entrance fee ends up being charged behind the fence.
The works to fence the enclosure began last December and are scheduled to end in May, according to a spokeswoman for the Horta-Guinardó district.
The project was born to save the old anti-aircraft batteries and the remains of the barracks from the deterioration caused by the overcrowding.
It consists of closing the access to the last meters of the hill with a total of six gates and metal fences two meters high.
They would be closed at night, as in other green areas of the city, and you could walk around the perimeter at any time.
In 2011, the City Council refurbished the Turó de la Rovira, inaugurating a new area that forms part of the network of museum spaces of the Museu d'Història de Barcelona (Muhba).
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