Would you believe that Granada is the city which receives the greatest density of tourists in the whole of Spain? Well, it is.
I’m not quite sure how they work this out but it’s to do with the number of visitors in relation to the permanent population and the total urban area. So Exceltur, in its study of the fifteen most popular tourist destinations, puts Granada in first place with an average daily tourist density of 11.7%. This tops even Barcelona, with a density of 11.1%.
This might not come as such a surprise if you visited the Mirador San Nicolás on a sunny Sunday, like today (11 Feb 18). Or if you walked down through the Albaicín facing the oncoming hordes on the morning of a Spanish ‘puente’ (long weekend: 6-10 Dec 17).
And it places Granada’s well above Spain’s average tourist density of 7.4%. In Madrid, by way of comparison, tourists would pass barely perceived among the daily crowds of locals, with a density of a mere 4.6%. Or what about Córdoba with only 3.7%? Granada is also well ahead of the two other major Andalusian tourist destinations: Málaga (8% tourist density) and Sevilla (7.1%).
A determining factor in the surge of tourist density in recent years has been the boom in residential tourist accommodation à la airbnb. Exceltur calculates that a daily average of 27,376 visitors come to Granada, of whom 15,078, that’s 55%, opt for airbnb-type lodgings. Only 45% overnight in proper hotels and hostals.
This is a high proportion, but it is not as high as Málaga, where 75% of tourists are reported to stay at these kinds of places. It is also behind most of the major tourist destinations in this respect: Alicante (67.8%), San Sebastián (66.7%), Palma de Mallorca (65.8%), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (60.6%), Sevilla (60.5%) and Valencia (60,3%). And it is this conversion of residential accommodation into tourist accommodation that has given rise to the greatest displeasure among the local population.
In Barcelona, it is the high proportion of private homes totally or partially converted into tourist accommodation that has fuelled open hostility to the influx of tourists. There, neighbourhoods are really being torn apart by a loss of affordable housing and the restructuring of services to cater for what are in effect holiday makers rather than for the local people. Of course, it is sheer numbers that cause the greatest problems. It’s ok if a couple of guiris pop into your local bar, but if your local bar then becomes a tourist attraction, you may have to go somewhere else for your coffee and toast.
Acknowledgements to Guadalupe S. Maldonado, Granada Hoy, 11 Febrero, 2018