Posted in Conversation Classes, Proficiency, Reading Classes

C1/C2 Reading & Conversation: Barcelona Anti-Tourism March

Image result for barcelona anti tourism

Image credit: Smart Meetings

Article credit: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/29/barcelona-residents-protest-high-rents-fuelled-by-tourism

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This is a lesson plan based around an article from the Guardian newspaper about an anti-tourism march that took place in Barcelona last year. Download the lesson plan, key and power point below:

warmer reading tourism

Barcelona tourism effect article + key

Procedure

Warmer: Predict text topic from key words

Project the power point and have students try to guess what the text they’re going to read is about by flashing up the picture and the keywords 2 at a time. Students continue predicting until all the key words are visible.

Article: Reading comprehension, vocab focus and discussion

Go through the activities on the hand out, answer key for comprehension questions is at the bottom.

Barcelona marches to curb negative effects of tourism boom

Community groups join forces to protest over soaring level of rents fuelled by a big rise in visitor numbers

Behind banners reading “Barcelona is not for sale” and “We will not be driven out”, some 2,000 people staged an “occupation” of the Rambla, the city’s famed boulevard, on Saturday.

The protest was organised by a coalition of more than 40 resident and community groups from all over the city, not just the neighbourhoods most directly affected by mass tourism.

Visitor numbers have grown exponentially in recent years. In 2016 an estimated 9 million people stayed in hotels and a further 9 million in holiday apartments. In addition, the city received around 12 million day-trippers arriving by car and train or on cruise ships.

Tourists looked on bemused as the banners were unfurled at the top of the Rambla, beside the Canaletes fountain.

“I don’t understand. What do they mean, Barcelona is not for sale?” asked Qais from Kuwait. “It’s not what we were expecting, but I can see their point,” he said when it had been explained to him. He added: “Things are really bad in the Middle East,” which put things in perspective. “Does it mean they don’t want us here?” his wife asked. Birgid from Denmark was less sympathetic. “Tourism brings in lots of money to the city, doesn’t it? I’m sure it’s changed the city, but that’s life, isn’t it?”

Roger from Wigan, here on his second visit, commented: “I can understand it, the place is very commercial. And if I understand what’s written on some of these placards, they are complaining that tourism is forcing their rents up. I can sympathise with that.”

This was one of the key issues behind the march, as the money to be made from holiday lets is forcing rents up and driving people out of the city.

Christine, an Englishwoman on the march who has lived in Barcelona for more than 20 years, said: “We’ve been renting our flat in the old town for 17 years. In that time I reckon we’ve paid around €150,000 in rent. Now they want to kick us out because they can make more money renting it out to tourists.”

The march coincides with a new law passed by Barcelona city council on Friday that, for the first time, seeks to curb tourism. The special urban plan for tourist accommodation aims to limit the number of beds on offer from hotels and apartments by imposing a moratorium on building new hotels. No new licences will be issued for tourist apartments.

There are currently 75,000 hotel beds in the city and around 100,000 beds in tourist flats, at least half of them unlicensed and illegal. The city is at loggerheads with Airbnb, the principal letting agency. Last year the council fined Airbnb and HomeAway €600,000 each for advertising unlicensed apartments.

Airbnb argues that the overwhelming majority of its clients in the city are people who are letting out rooms as a way of making ends meet during Spain’s prolonged financial crisis.

That may be true up to a point, but it masks the real problem, which is speculation,” says Daniel Pardo, a member of the Neighbourhood Assembly for Sustainable Tourism. Yet people are free to visit the city, so what’s to stop them?

One thing we could do is stop spending millions on promoting tourism,” says Pardo. “We’re subsidising tourism with public money, by exploiting workers in the service economy and exploiting the infrastructure of the city, which we citizens pay for. Furthermore, tourism is distorting the economy and there is little support for anyone who wants to establish non-tourist enterprises.”

The good-humoured march moved to the seaward end of the Rambla, where one of the organisers read out a manifesto calling for more local shops, more homes, rather than businesses, and control of the pollution caused by private cars and cruise ships. “It’s a great turnout,” one of the marchers quipped. “There are more people here than at Trump’s inauguration. The citizens have never been consulted about this, although they’re the ones who suffer the consequences and aren’t enjoying the benefits. [We’re asking for] the debate to be opened to everyone and that we reach some other resolution of the problem, instead of the present one based on continuous growth.”

Comprehension Questions

  1. Who organised the march?
  2. How many tourists did Barcelona receive in total last year?
  3. How did tourists feel about the march?
  4. What is the main detrimental effect that tourism is having on the city’s residents?
  5. How has the council responded to the rising number of tourists?
  6. How does airbnb defend itself?
  7. What suggestions does Daniel Pardo make?
  8. The march was very serious and angry true/false

Language Focus

Work with a partner, look at the underlined expressions in the text, what do you think they mean?

Now try to complete the expressions from memory:

  1. This was one of the k____ issues behind the march,
  2. The protest was organised by a c____________ of more than 40 resident and community groups.
  3. Visitor numbers have grown e_______________ in recent years.
  4. Now they want to k_______ us out because they can make more money renting it o_______ to tourists.”
  5. The money to be made from h_______ lets is f_______ rents up and d________ people out of the city.
  6. They are complaining that tourism is forcing their rents up. I can s________ with that.
  7. The city is at l____________ with Airbnb.
  8. A new law p_________ by Barcelona city council on Friday that, for the first time, s_________ to c___________ tourism.
  9. The special urban plan for tourist accommodation a______ to limit the number of beds ____ offer from hotels and apartments by i__________ a m__________ on building new hotels.
  10. Airbnb argues that the o___________ majority of its clients in the city are people who are l___________ out rooms as a way of m_______ ends m________ during Spain’s prolonged financial crisis.
  11. “That m_______ be true up to a p________, but it masks the real problem, which is speculation,”
  12. The citizens have never been c__________ about this, although they’re the ones who s_________ the consequences and aren’t e_________ the b___________.
  13. “It’s a great t____________,”

Language of opinion

Complete the sentences with one word to make expressions of opinion.

  1. F_____________ where I stand,
  2. In my h_____________ opinion,
  3. As f________ as I’m concerned,
  4. A_______ I see it,
  5. I don’t have very s___________ views on the matter but,…
  6. I t___________ to agree with people who say…
  7. If you a______ me, I’d say that…
  8. I’m co___________ that…
  9. From my p_______ of v__________,
  10. Speaking from p____________ ex______________,
  11. I’m a big s________________ of…
  12. I’m d_______ against…
  13. I’m a f__________ believer in….

Conversation

  1. What do you think of the march? Are you in agreement with their message?
  2. Would you consider protesting on the issue?
  3. What are the pros and cons of tourism in your city?
  4. How does tourism affect your neighbourhood?
  5. What experiences do you have of the downsides of tourism?
  6. Do you think you have enjoyed the benefits of tourism? In what way?
  7. Do you think tourism should be curbed in any way? If so, how?

Language Development

Look at the language from the text, in what other contexts could you use it?

  • The city’s famed boulevard – what other things could be famed?
  • Stage an occupation – what other things can you stage?
  • A coalition of resident and community groups – what other coalitions can you think of?
  • Visitor numbers have grown exponentially in recent years. – What other things can grow exponentially?
  • “Puts things in perspective” – In what other contexts could you use this expression?
  • Tourism brings in a lot of money. – What other things bring in money for a government/company?
  • “That’s life, isn’t it?” – In what other contexts could you use this expression?
  • A new law passed by the council seeks to curb – What other things would the government pass laws to curb?
  • Now they want to kick us out – what other things could you be kicked out of?
  • The plan aims to limit the number of beds on offer. – What other things could be limited?
  • A manifesto calling for more local shops – What other things could a manifesto or a protest call for?
  • They’re the ones who are suffering the consequences and not enjoying the benefits? – What other things could you suffer the consequences or enjoy the benefits of?

Comprehension Questions Key

  1. Who organised the march? A coalition of residents & community groups
  2. How many tourists did Barcelona receive in total last year? 9+9+12=30million
  3. How did tourists feel about the march? Mixed emotions, some understanding, some bemused
  4. What is the main detrimental effect that tourism is having on the city’s residents? Forcing rents up, driving people out
  5. How has the council responded to the rising number of tourists? Laws to curb tourism, limits on flats, moratorium on new hotels
  6. How does airbnb defend itself? Most hosts are just letting out spare rooms
  7. What suggestions does Daniel Pardo make? Stop subsidising tourism with public money, infrastructure of the city is being exploited by tourism
  8. The march was very serious and angry true/false. false, march was good-humoured
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Author:

Barcelona based English Teacher, blogger and sometime actor and director.

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