Get us in your inbox

San Sebastian, Spain
Photograph: Shutterstock

This Spanish city is planning to ban hotels

It’s yet another effort to curb the tourist tide

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

The Basque Country is one of Europe’s oldest cultures, and its heritage has helped shape the glorious Spanish city of San Sebastian. It’s not hard to see why people flock there, but the city will soon be implementing some controls to try and limit tourist numbers. One such plan is to ban hotels.  

But don’t worry, the city isn't just binning all the ones already in existence, nor are they trying to boot out tourists altogether. City officials want to ban the opening of any new hotels or tourist apartments to promote a more sustainable approach to tourism. 

And it’s not the first place in Europe, or indeed Spain, to do so. Palma de Mallorca became the first city in Spain to ban Airbnbs in 2018. And this year, Florence in Italy announced it would be banning all new Airbnbs and short-let rentals. Then you have the likes of Seville, which recently announced a ban on stag and hen dos. There are plenty of other destinations that want tourists to stay away where that came from.

San Sebastian’s Mayor, Eneko Goia, said that some of the city’s areas will be declared as ‘saturated’. According to him, the supply of holiday accommodation for tourists is already plentiful. 

The General Urban Planning Plan, a report on the state of the city, outlined some of the negative impacts that have been caused by tourism, including a decline in the quality of food and culture.

Residents have become so sick of the number of tourists that anti-tourism graffiti has also appeared in San Sebastian, with messages such as ‘go home’ sprawled across monuments and bridges. 

Hopefully, the measure will make the city more liveable for locals. It should also help out existing hotels financially, as they’ll almost certainly experience higher occupancy rates and be to charge a higher fee. 

Check out our list of the eight best hotels in San Sebastian for the ideal Basque getaway, or have a browse of the very best things to do across Spain.

Did you see that Spain is getting a new high-speed train next month?

Plus: it’s been revealed that these are the best budget-friendly cities to visit in Europe this winter

Stay in the loop: sign up to our free Time Out newsletter for all the latest travel news.

You may also like
You may also like