‘Turismofobia’ pops up in Seville

by Lorraine Williamson

SEVILLE – Seville is beautiful and that is well known. It is the third most visited city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. However, that popularity only ensures a growing dissatisfaction among the local population about tourism. Furthermore, this is evidenced by the increasing number of actions of ‘turismofobia’.

Turismofobiais a compound of the words ‘tourism’ and ‘phobia’ in Spanish. With these actions, Sevillanos express their aversion to tourists and everything related to the tourism industry. 

“This Was Once a Home” 

A recent act of vandalism in Seville underlines this trend. In several apartment buildings, the key boxes of holiday apartments have been rendered unusable with glue and silicone. They are also covered with stickers with the text: “This was once a home. Tourists go home”. 

It has happened in several neighbourhoods of the old city, such as Alameda, the area around Las Setas de la Encarnación and Alfalfa, among other neighbourhoods. However, it is not the first time something like this has happened in Spain. Previously, this type of action occurred in other popular Spanish cities such as Barcelona. 

The reason was a tweet that went viral 

This action started after a tweet from a resident who had discovered up to four of these boxes in her apartment building. Her tweet went viral and sparked a wave of discontent among residents over the invasion of tourists in their city. Even outside the city centre, such as in the neighbourhoods of Los Pajaritos and Las Tres Mil Viviendas, holiday apartments are now being offered at prices far too high for the local population. 

The key boxes 

With a key box, tourists who arrive at the building can enter a code with which they can open the box and take the key. That is cheaper for owners than having to physically send someone over to hand over the keys every time. 

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The placement of these key boxes in the porches of residential buildings is not only becoming noticeable in Seville. Recently there was a lot of attention to the phenomenon in the city of Málaga. Its growth led the municipality to order the removal of these elements. Residents are afraid that the lockers are not safe and could give unauthorised persons access to the common areas of their building. 


Furthermore, the municipality of Seville has announced it will declare some parts of the city as ‘saturated’ with holiday apartments. However, that will only happen after the local elections on 28 May. In this way, no new permits will be issued for this type of accommodation. The Basque city of San Sebastián already preceded Seville. Here, too, permits are temporarily no longer granted and the municipal zoning plan (PGOU) is being revised. 

The first neighbourhood where action will be taken is Santa Cruz, where the number of tourist homes already exceeds the number of normal homes. This situation has led to schools in the area emptying because no more families with children live in the area. 

The actions in Seville reflect a growing frustration among locals over the invasion of tourists in their city. Of course, tourists bring in money, but it also drives residents out of their houses which are consequently becoming far too expensive. 

Three types of tourist accommodation can be distinguished: hotels, tourist apartments and residences for tourist purposes. The last category is the one with the largest supply according to current and official figures. It concerns 30,000 places; followed by hotels (25,000) and apartments (5,000). 

El Diario de Sevilla writes based on municipal sources that no owners of tourist apartments have yet reported the attack on their key boxes. 

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