Barcelona fines Tripadvisor €30k over illegal holiday flats

Tourists in Barcelona

Tourists in Barcelona

The Catalan capital ordered the shutdown of 615 illegally operating tourist flats in just two months and has issued fines of €30,000 to nine different online platforms, including Tripadvisor.

Barcelona ordered the closure of 615 holiday flats that were operating without licenses between July and August, according to Catalan news site Ara.cat on Monday. The city also went after travel giant Tripadvisor and eight other online platforms issuing fines of €30,000.

Officials said that the platforms – which also included Fotocasa, Rent4days, 9flats, Houstrip, Only-apartments, Windu, Oh Barcelona and Niumba – had been fined for continuing to advertise unlicensed tourist flats.

The city hall has also found another 32 accommodations that have been operating as hostels without the proper license.

“We have always offered to have a dialogue and collaboration, as long as they comply with the current laws,” Barcelona’s deputy mayor for urban planning Janet Sanz told El Mundo.

Over the past year under mayor Ada Colau, a former anti-eviction activist, Barcelona has been cracking down on the ballooning tourist industry in the city as locals have complained about the impact on the city’s culture, as well as housing prices as apartments being converted into holiday stays drive up rent levels.

At the end of last year, Barcelona fined online flat-sharing portal Airbnb and vacation rental site HomeAway €60,000 each for promoting lodgings that lacked necessary tourism permits.

Then in June, city officials increased the maximum fine for illegal home rentals to €600,000.

Barcelona also recently banned Segways from its bustling tourist waterfront in the Ciutat Vella

Tour groups have also been banned from the bustling La Boqueria market and with so many cruise ships docking in its port, the city is even considering imposing a tourism tax on day trippers.

Published The Local 19 September 2016

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