Tourism development affects prominent city centres worldwide, causing social unrest that has been labelled “tourism-phobia.” This article problematizes the recent appearance of this term by unravelling the links between the materiality of contemporary urban tourism and the response it receives from social movements opposing its expansion. We endeavour to understand the meaning that different actors involved in the city's touristification attach to this term, and in particular the perceptions of citizens’ movements that claim to espouse not tourism-phobia but urban-philia. To analyze these dynamics, we draw on Lefebvre’s discussion of the “right to the city” to highlight the extractive productive relations characterizing the tourism industry and the contestations such relations trigger. Taking the example of two Spanish cities (Barcelona and Palma), our findings indicate that the social malaise found in tourist oversaturation is due to the disruption it causes to everyday life, including price increases and rising rents. Consequently, the discomfort popular mobilisations have generated among the ruling class has led the latter to disqualify and even criminalise the former’s legitimate claims under the label of tourism-phobia. To conclude, we call for a future research agenda in pursuit of social justice and equity around re-touristification, detouristification or even tourist degrowth.
- Right to the city
- Urban struggle