Country Risk

Basque Country event is an indicator for potential spread of attacks on tourist assets from Catalonia

11 August 2017
Banners reading 'No tourist flats' hang from a balcony to protest against holiday rental apartments for tourists in Barcelona's neighborhood of Barceloneta on 24 November 2016. Source: Getty Images: 625517338

Key Points

  • Following several incidents in Barcelona and Mallorca against businesses providing services for tourists, similar action is probable in the Basque Country in the coming months.
  • There is a high risk of property damage to hotels, restaurants, tourist offices, and other businesses providing services to tourists, mainly through vandalism and arson. Further action is likely to spread to other locations where the groups already operate or are trying to set up operations, including Girona, Lleida, Palma, Tarragona, Castellón, Valencia, Alicante, Ibiza, Menorca, and Formentera.


Regional youth anti-capitalist leftist groups are increasingly likely to target tourist-related assets across Spain due to a perceived oversaturation of tourism and negative impact on the local population.

On 3 August, leftist Basque youth nationalists connected to the Ernai group said that they would hold public protests in San Sebastián city on 17 August, according to Spanish media sources. The demonstration will be against the perceived "saturation" of the city by tourism, notably of the group's criticisms of the perceived negative impact of renting out local accommodation to tourists. The protest comes at the high point of the city's tourist season, during the Semana Grande festival, which in 2017 takes place on 12–19 August. Anti-tourism graffiti has recently become more commonplace in the old city of San Sebastián; local authorities are concerned that the Ernai group will move to take direct action against tourism assets. According to official data, around 2 million tourists visited San Sebastián in 2016 and some 1.5 million tourists in January–June 2017.

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