As Barcelona continues to grapple with the challenges of overtourism, it is evident that finding a balance between preserving local culture and accommodating visitors is no easy task. Now, renowned 1898 historic Spanish deli, Queviures Múrria, situated in the heart of the city, has decided to implement a charge of €5 to tourist merely looking inside their premises, taking pictures rather than intending to buy anything.
Queviures Múrria, a cherished establishment that has been serving locals and visitors for over a century, is no stranger to the impact of overtourism and overcrowding. Many come to the store to simply look at their original counter, mahogany furniture, 20th-century advertisement signs and fire-tinted glass windows, but leave empty handed, suffocating the space for serious buyers.
In an attempt to address the issue, the deli’s management team has come up with an unconventional strategy to discourage excessive tourist footfall. Their decision to charge a €5 fee for individuals who wish to gaze inside the deli without making a purchase aims to prioritize the satisfaction of local customers and create a more authentic experience for everyone. Visitors are now welcomed with a sign in English that reads: “Visit just looking (inside) €5 x person, thank you”.
“We have not charged any money from people who just want to come in and have a look, but that is not the point” explained shop manager Toni Merino. However, the number of people visiting the deli has decreased significantly. The management believes the fee will deter tourists who have little interest in the deli’s history and products and encourage those who are genuinely interested to explore its offerings.
Over the past few years, Barcelona has faced a surge in tourist arrivals, leading to overcrowding in popular areas, increased rent prices, and a strain on the city’s infrastructure. A study by the University of Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain, brings this to evidence by revealing the Catalan capital has reached a tourist density of 3,854 people per square kilometre, and 21,861 at the city’s center, during the peak of the tourist season. With a population of around 1.6 million, it’s easy to understand that years like 2022, when 28 million people visited Barcelona, leave its residents feeling fed-up and strained.
Barcelona is also raising the the municipal tourist tax. At the beginning of this year, the city revealed its intention to increase the amount that five-star hotel guests pay as part of this tax. Currently set at €5.25 per night, it is expected to rise to €6.75 per night by 2024. Approved by the Spanish government in the summer of 2020, this additional charge is imposed by the city on top of a general tourist tax levied in the region.