Barcelona halts new tourist accommodation licenses

Thu Jul 2, 2015 7:20am EDT
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MADRID (Reuters) - Barcelona's new leftist mayor has temporarily suspended the granting of new tourist accommodation licenses, including for hotels, to avoid saturation in one of Europe's most popular cities, the town hall said on Thursday.

Masses of tourists travel to Barcelona every year, far surpassing the cosmopolitan's city 1.7 million residents, and Mayor Ada Colau has pledged to come up with a plan to create a more sustainable industry.

Her temporary accommodations ban, which also applies to hostels and private apartments and homes, is expected to last until the first quarter of 2016 as a new plan is drawn up.

Barcelona currently offers 68,000 rooms across 377 hotels, in addition to some 9,600 regulated apartment rentals for tourists.

The city in northeastern Spain received 7.5 million foreign visitors last year, making it Europe's third most popular tourist destination after London and Paris.

(Reporting by Robert Hetz; Writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Paul Day)