In the face of the major touristification process that is taking place in diverse southern European cities and regions, oppositional movements are organising their resistance in Venezia, València, Pamplona/Iruña, Sevilla, Palma, Malta, Madrid, Málaga, Napoli, Lisboa, Ibiza/Pitiüses, Girona, Firenze, Donostia/San Sebastian, Camp de Tarragona, Barcelona and Bergamo.
During the last year and a half, members of different organisations in these territories have been meeting with the aim of sharing and exchanging experiences and knowledge.
Although each of these cities must deal with its own problems, some of them are common to all:
- Rapidly rising precariousness and rental prices coupled with a drastic reduction in the right to and access to housing, tolerated by state legislation that especially effect the most aged population with the least resources; all of which is a consequence of the real-estate speculation cycle from after the financial crisis of 2008/2012 and the current mass purchase of real estate by investment and real estate funds, mainly dedicated to tourist use, emptying them from their residential function and causing gentrification, evictions and the emptying of neighbourhoods in a flagrant violation of social rights.
- Transformation of local trade and the cost increase that goes with it via its specialisation in tourist uses that are useless for the everyday lives of local people, forcing them to travel further, especially affecting people with reduced mobility and/or of an older age.
- Overcrowding of streets and squares, hampering the everyday lives of residents, disruptive both in terms of rest and enjoyment of the public space.
- Congestion of the public transport network.
- Specialisation of the city economy in tourism, and therefore moving towards a monocrop industry.
- More precarious working conditions, since the tourist industry (accommodation, food, local retail) offers the worst possible labour conditions: low wages, fraud in the number of hours declared in the contracts (in the case that there are any), outsourcing etc.
- High generation of pollution (planes, cruises, coaches etc) and waste given the high consumption, especially that linked to disposability, which characterises the deregulated tourist industry; massive use of local resources -water and territory- and disqualification of a healthy environment.
- Disproportionate use and enlargement of infrastructures (roads, ports, airports, purifiers, desalination plants etc) that destroy the territory, involving expropriations and high costs for the resident population; these processes collapse accesses and create competition for the territory in which access to basic activities and services lose out: jobs, schooling,hospitals, etc.
- Trivialisation of both urban and natural environments, converted into theme parks; in the former we find plunder and heritage commoditisation, in the latter the erasure of fishing and agrarian uses; the common aim is unlimited tourist exploitation.
In the face of these conflicts, we, locals, are organising to defend our social rights, especially the right to decent and affordable housing and the right to the city. The collective labour in our territories often begins by bringing awareness to these conflicts and by gaining awareness from the critique of the model and the condemnation of its consequences, as well as from the proposal of alternatives to this model.
Examples of the latter are the establishment of limits on the tourist industry, the adoption of differentiated fiscal policies for housing and vacation rentals, the de-touristification of city economy, or tourism de-growth along with policies that encourage other fair economies in social and environmental terms.
The ways in which these problems affect these different cities are not homogeneous but diverse, depending on the degree of touristification they undergo. Thus, we see more advanced and serious cases such as those of Venice, Palma, or Barcelona, with clear proposals for a change of model, and others like Valencia, Madrid or Lisbon that, despite being the object of fast and violent processes of touristification, can still aspire to reach certain equilibria via prevention or curb policies.
In all of these and other issues, our territories coincide, and it is therefore logical that we have begun to think about the appropriacy and necessity of creating an international network of cities affected by the tourist industry.
Just as each of its organisations and social movements does in its territory, this alliance seeks to increase awareness and to pressure the authorities to regulate according to the economic, social and environmental criteria of the territories where tourism takes place. Besides mutual support and learning, our aim is to extend this struggle to other cities and regions, generating a plural and powerful voice that is able to carry out a critique of the current tourist model in the south of Europe.
The present manifesto is a first step towards the internationalisation of the struggle against the touristification of territories, after which we will carry on working in our joint debate, reflection and mobilisation.
SOUTH EUROPE CITIES FACING TOURISITIFCATION!