Expulsion of 88-year-old adds fuel to the fire of ‘tourism phobia’ in Cadiz

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tourism phobia

Maria Muños lived at the same address in the historic centre of the Andalucian city of Cadiz for 57 years. Now she is forced to give up her home to make room for tourist rentals. The owner wants to sell the apartment and Muñoz cannot afford it. Muñoz’s fate adds fuel to the fire of tourism phobia in her neighbourhood.

Her case has angered residents in the historic El Populo neighbourhood. “They are exterminating us. We are now fighting to preserve the traditional morning greeting,” says Antonio Gallardo in El País. He is spokesperson for the neighbourhood platform of the district. He also previously lived in the same building that Muñoz now has to leave by June 26 by a court order. The fact that that date is rapidly approaching robs the old woman of her sleep.

No home can be found below 800 euros per month

Muñoz’s daughter says that the family has been looking for a home for their mother for three years. They started the search when they heard that the owners of the property wanted to sell it. They cannot find anything for a rent lower than €800 per month. The homeowner offered Muñoz the house for €147,000, but she and her family cannot afford that. In December 2022, the court ruled in favour of the owners. Amid much legal wrangling, Muñoz’s deportation was delayed due to her fragile health. Meanwhile, the other homes in the same building have already been transformed into apartments for tourist rental offered on Airbnb.

Cogesa Expats

“Stop tourist homes”

Now the facade of the building is full of posters of angry local residents with texts such as “We are being sold. Read more here”, and “Yes to tourism, no to touristification”, and “Stop tourist housing”. Local residents see local life in their neighbourhood slowly disappearing. According to the owner of the famous bar El Malagueño, 14 buildings are already completely dedicated to rental to tourists in a small area. “We want them all checked.” He hopes that inspectors will then come across the absence of permits so that the homes can be rented to Gaditanos again. The fact that tourist homes are so concentrated in neighbourhoods like this only increases tourism phobia among local residents.

“If I eventually have to leave, I will go”

Cadiz Mayor Bruno García has already said he wants “more restrictions” on tourist rentals in the city that has lost more than a third of its population in the last 30 years. This exodus is the result of gentrification, unemployment and a lack of land to build houses. Muñoz had hoped to stay in her home until her ‘transition to the other world’, but admits that she realises she has to get out. “If I eventually have to leave, I will go.” Her case will not be the last and, as in other cities, it is up to local authorities to find the right balance between welcoming visitors and the quality of life of residents to counter further tourismphobia.

Also read: Malaga has the highest number of tourist properties in Spain


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