Would you believe that Granada is the city which
receives the greatest density of tourists in the whole of Spain? Well, it is.

I’m not
quite sure how they work this out but it’s to do with the number of visitors in
relation to the permanent population and the total urban area. So Exceltur, in its study of the fifteen
most popular tourist destinations, puts Granada in first place with an average
daily tourist density of 11.7%. This tops even Barcelona, with a density of 11.1%.

This might
not come as such a surprise if you visited the Mirador San Nicolás on a sunny
Sunday, like today (11 Feb 18). Or if you walked down through the Albaicín
facing the oncoming hordes on the morning of a Spanish ‘puente’ (long weekend:
6-10 Dec 17).

And it
places Granada’s well above Spain’s average tourist density of 7.4%. In Madrid,
by way of comparison, tourists would pass barely perceived among the daily
crowds of locals, with a density of a mere 4.6%. Or what about Córdoba with
only 3.7%? Granada is also well ahead of the two other major Andalusian tourist
destinations: Málaga (8% tourist density) and Sevilla (7.1%).

determining factor in the surge of tourist density in recent years has been the
boom in residential tourist accommodation à la airbnb. Exceltur calculates that a daily average of 27,376 visitors come to
Granada, of whom 15,078, that’s 55%, opt for airbnb-type lodgings. Only 45%
overnight in proper hotels and hostals.

This is a high
proportion, but it is not as high as Málaga, where 75% of tourists are reported
to stay at these kinds of places. It is also behind most of the major tourist
destinations in this respect: Alicante (67.8%), San Sebastián (66.7%), Palma de
Mallorca (65.8%), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (60.6%), Sevilla (60.5%) and Valencia
(60,3%). And it is this conversion of residential accommodation into tourist
accommodation that has given rise to the greatest displeasure among the local

Barcelona, it is the high proportion of private homes totally or partially
converted into tourist accommodation that has fuelled open hostility to the
influx of tourists. There, neighbourhoods are really being torn apart by a loss
of affordable housing and the restructuring of services to cater for what are
in effect holiday makers rather than for the local people. Of course, it is
sheer numbers that cause the greatest problems. It’s ok if a couple of guiris pop into your local bar, but if
your local bar then becomes a tourist attraction, you may have to go somewhere
else for your coffee and toast.

So far, an
open hostility towards visitors has not led to aggressive reactions among the
local people of Granada. This may be because the places where tourists
aggregate (Alhambra, Albaicín, Centre) tend to be outside the traditional
neighbourhoods and residential areas. It is less likely to be a result of the
sweet, tolerant nature of the indigenous populace.

Acknowledgements to Guadalupe S. Maldonado, Granada Hoy, 11 Febrero,