The social construction of touristification. Residents’ perspectives on mobilities and moorings

Abstract

One of the last decade’s major challenges faced by tourist cities has been dominated by the increasing tourism flows that have harmed the quality of life of residents, the neighbourhood’s sense of belonging, and the stakeholders’ concerns regarding reliance on tourism. However, tourism mobilities are not the only drivers of structural change in cities. The advent of temporary residents, digital nomads, international students, short-stay expats, and creative workers have shaped the way cities have evolved together with tourism mobilities. This paper will present research conducted in the Vila de Gràcia neighbourhood in Barcelona, which has undergone a thoughtful transformation in terms of tourism-oriented businesses specialisation, housing market prices, sociodemographic changes, the use of public space and nightlife leisure. Gradually, the Vila de Gràcia neighbourhood has become an emblematic area of leisure and tourism consumption experience in Barcelona. Based on ethnographic fieldwork begun in 2017 and in-depth semi-structured interviews with lifelong and new residents, the research analyses residents’ attitude toward touristification processes related to social discontent, nightlife noise, the rise in housing market prices and overcrowding.

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