Europe

Barcelona bans new hotels in the city center

Tourist gather in front of Sagrada Familia church, designed by architect Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Barcelona will curb the number of rooms for visitors in the city center in a controversial move aimed to appease residents concerned about sky-high property prices and opposed by hotel and business owners. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Tourist gather in front of Sagrada Familia church, designed by architect Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Barcelona will curb the number of rooms for visitors in the city center in a controversial move aimed to appease residents concerned about sky-high property prices and opposed by hotel and business owners. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)  (The Associated Press)

Barcelona is curbing the number of rooms for tourists in the city center in a controversial move aimed at appeasing residents concerned about sky-high property prices and opposed by hotel and business owners.

The City Council on Friday approved the proposal from Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, a former activist who made herself a name campaigning against bank-ordered evictions.

The plan will grant new licenses for hotels, serviced apartments or other establishments offering rooms to visitors only in limited numbers and on the outskirts of the city. No new licenses are expected downtown even if current businesses close down.

Barcelona received 32 million visitors in 2016 according to the city government, although more than half only made day trips while staying in nearby coastal towns or on cruise ships.