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20 July, 2024

Thousands protest mass tourism in Barcelona, shouting ''tourists go home!''

Demonstrators spray diners with water guns to express anger over tourism impact


Thousands of protesters marched through Barcelona over the weekend to express their anger at the overwhelming impact of mass tourism on Spain's most visited city. The demonstrators, some armed with water guns, sprayed bystanders dining in restaurants in the popular La Barceloneta neighborhood, forcing some to change tables.

Video footage showed diners hastily relocating to avoid the water-wielding protesters, while other restaurants were symbolically taped off by the demonstrators. Carrying banners that read "Tourists go home," the protesters called for a reduction in the number of foreign visitors to Barcelona, stopping in front of hotels and restaurants to confront tourists directly.

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"I have nothing against tourism, but here in Barcelona we are suffering from an excess of tourism that has made our city unlivable," one demonstrator told AFP. Local authorities report that the cost of housing in Barcelona has risen by 68% over the past decade, a major point of contention for the city's residents.

"The last years, the city has turned completely for tourists, and what we want is a city for citizens and not in service of tourists," another protester told Reuters.

In June, Barcelona's Mayor Jaume Collboni announced plans to stop renewing the thousands of tourist licenses that allow landlords to rent out accommodations to foreign visitors by 2028. This move aims to make more housing available to locals by removing properties from platforms such as Airbnb.

More than 12 million tourists visited Barcelona last year, drawn by attractions like the Sagrada Familia basilica, according to local authorities. This latest protest follows similar large-scale demonstrations in other Spanish tourist hotspots. In June, 15,000 people protested against over-tourism in Málaga, and in May, more than 10,000 people marched in Palma de Mallorca.

Spain’s national statistics office, INE, reported that over 33 million tourists visited the country in the first five months of 2024 alone, marking a 13.6% increase compared to the previous year. Spain is not alone in grappling with the impacts of tourism; earlier this year, Venice became the first city to impose a fee on daily visitors.

[With information from CBS News, AFP, Reuters]

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