Topic – Travel – Is Barcelona being spoilt by tourists?

Video link:  BBC fast:track – Is Barcelona being spoilt by tourists?

The report linked above investigates the impact of tourism on Barcelona.  It explores some of the negative effects for a city that popularity can bring.

Before watching

Before you watch, think about the following points…

  • What have you read in the newspapers in the last few years about tourism in Barcelona?  Can you remember any stories about the negative effects of tourism on the city?
  • Have you visited Barcelona?  What was your impression?  Was it a pleasant place to visit?  What 5 words best describe your visit?
  • Can you think of another place that you would say has been spoilt (ruined, damaged) by tourism?
  • What do you know about Barcelona before the 1992 Olympics?  How has the city changed since it hosted the games?

Now watch the video.  Were any of the points you thought about mentioned in the report?

After watching

What’s your overall impression of the report?  To what extent do you think it is true to say that BCN is being spoilt by tourists? 

Which interviewees’ point of view did you have the most sympathy with?  The politician, the hotel manager, the tourist board representative, the shop owner, the resident (author), the photographer, the tourists.

Are any of the points made true for Madrid or another place you know well? Do you think the effects of the successful Olympics in 1992 will follow if Madrid’s latest bid to host the games is accepted?

Watch again – extracting key information:

Why were the following numbers important in the report?

  • 80,000
  • 15%
  • 80-100,000
  • 1 in 10
  • 10 million
  • 2.5 million
  • 60-70%

Language points

Look at the following extracts from the text.  What do the words in bold have in common? 

This avenue, The Ramblas, used to be a river but the water ran out and now Barcelona is overflowing with tourists and the locals say they are drowning.

…the tourist dollars (are) flooding in…

The words are all associated with water – a common vocabulary group for metaphors.  By using ‘overflowing’, ‘drowning’ and ‘flooding’, the reporter creates a sense of quantities being out of control.  Here are some other examples that work in a similar way.  Who do you think the speaker might be in each case?  What situation are they facing?

  • I’m drowning in all this paper!
  • Our phone lines have been flooded with calls from people entering the competition.
  • The streets are overflowing with people who have come to protest about the cuts.
  • I broke down and was in floods of tears when I heard the news.
  • People poured out onto the streets to celebrate at the end of the match.




Filed under B2.2 - Speaking skills July 2011, Topic - City Life, Topic - Travel

2 responses to “Topic – Travel – Is Barcelona being spoilt by tourists?

  1. Further reading:

    From June 2010: a perspective from Barcelona about how some sections of the local community feel about their city as a popular tourist destination:

    From 2009: a perspective from tourists about the negative effects of tourism on Barcelona:

  2. New video news report from the BBC on proposed developments at the port in Barcelona:

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