By Cristina Gallardo

Barcelona plans to wipe out thousands of licenses for tourist rental apartments in the city in November 2028 in a move to curb mass tourism, a blow to holiday-rental companies like Airbnb.

Jaume Collboni, the mayor of Barcelona, said Friday that the city wouldn't renew the existing 10,101 licenses for apartment rentals and would stop granting new ones. By removing a lucrative source of income for landlords, Collboni hopes more long-term rentals will be available for residents.

The announcement, part of a package of measures to address rising rent prices in Barcelona, comes as Europe's economy benefits from a boom of American tourists driven by the strong dollar.

"Tourism growth cannot be infinite for the simple reason that the world we share is not infinite either," Collboni said.

Airbnb wasn't immediately available for comment.

Other towns in the Catalonia region could follow suit, using a Catalan decree from November 2023 that allows mayors to revoke tourist licenses after five years. Before its introduction, licenses were granted on perpetuity.

Data from Inside Airbnb, an online platform that tracks Airbnb's impact on communities, show that there are more than 11,000 listings of entire private homes and apartments in Barcelona.

Apartur, a Barcelona industry body representing owners of short-term rentals, said these tourist rental apartments account for 40% of all the tourist accommodation in Barcelona, but just 0.77% of all homes. The association said the decision would fail to bring down rents since it would boost the number of illegal tourist apartments.

Nearly three-quarters of Spain's recent growth and one in four new jobs are linked to tourism. Barcelona is Spain's most visited city, but its popularity has led to clashes between locals and visitors, forcing the city council to intervene with measures such as increasing the tourist tax and promoting a range of rules to boost harmony between tourists and residents.

The crackdown comes less than a year after New York started enforcing a law that banned people from renting their homes for fewer than 30 days, unless the host stayed with the guests, which Collboni has called a "brave" move. Thousands of New York City Airbnb listings vanished from the market following the ruling.

Write to Cristina Gallardo at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

06-21-24 1055ET