Traders in Boqueria market complain tourists clog up aisles and affect business

For more than a century it has been a mecca for cooks but Barcelona’s famous Boqueria market is fast becoming yet another no-go zone for residents as it becomes overwhelmed by tourists. Stallholders complain that “real” shoppers cannot get through the crowds who come to photograph but not buy. Now the association running the market is calling on the city council to curb the number of visitors, in particular the large groups led by tour and cruise operators.

Last year 70 million people visited the market. Oscar Ubide, the market manager, said he had asked the city to negotiate with tour firms to avoid bringing in large groups on the busy Friday and Saturday mornings. It was not a question of banning tourists, but having some controls. The market, which sells fresh food, was losing its character as traditional stalls gave way to juice bars and takeaways, he said. Tourism was good for vendors of olives and charcuterie, goods visitors like to acquire as souvenirs, but a “nuisance” for fishmongers and butchers, whose customers were put off by the crowds.

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