Barcelona suspends new tourist accommodation licenses in bid to control influx of visitors

Barcelona's new leftist mayor has halted the issuing of tourist accommodation licenses in the immensely popular city while new regulations are drawn up to govern a sector some say has become saturated in recent years.

A town hall statement Thursday said the directive would apply to hotels, apartments, hostels and rented private houses.

Mayor Ada Colau took office last month promising social changes, including a plan to deal with the problem of mass tourism in the city.

Barcelona is one of Europe's top tourism destinations but many residents complain the city is being overrun and losing its character.

The town hall said it plans to study existing accommodation capacity and its economic and social impact, and will start a public debate on developing a sustainable tourism plan by early 2016.