Spain Protests Overtourism, Urging Tourists to 'Go Home' Due to Overcrowding and Pollution

By Thea Felicity

Apr 16, 2024 02:24 PM EDT

Pedestrians walk at the Plaza Mayor, in the centre of Madrid, on April 12, 2024.
(Photo : THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)

Anti-tourism sentiments are on the rise in Spain, the world's second most visited country, leading to a clash of interests between locals and the tourism industry, according to Yahoo News.

Under the banner "The Canaries have a limit," groups in the archipelago off northwest Africa plan protests against constructing new hotels and other real estate projects.

The issue has sparked similar movements across Spain, with activists in Malaga, Barcelona, and the Balearic Islands expressing discontent through various means, including protests and social media campaigns.

READ NEXT: Spain Axes 'Golden Visa' Program Granting Residency to Wealthy Non-EU Citizens After Large Investments in Real Estate

Why Spain is Protesting Against Overtourism

Locals are protesting against uncontrolled development, environmental degradation, and the negative impact of tourism on their communities. They argue that the influx of tourists puts pressure on limited resources, such as water, and worsening issues like housing shortages and rising rents, especially in town centers. 

Additionally, there is frustration over the lack of local involvement in decision-making processes regarding tourism development and the perception that their voices are being ignored in favor of economic interests. 

In fact, the surge in tourism has prompted cities like San Sebastian and Seville to implement measures to alleviate overcrowding while policymakers struggle to find a balance between sustainable tourism and economic growth, which accounts for a major portion of Spain's economy.

As a step towards easing overtourism, VCPost reported that the country had already canceled the Golden Visa program to grant residency to wealthy non-EU citizens.

However, Spanish citizens want more, calling for the Tourism Sector to protect the environment from uncontrolled development and ensure that local communities have a voice in tourism-related decisions. There is also a call for promoting sustainable tourism practices and addressing housing affordability concerns caused by tourist demand. 

READ MORE: China Eases Visa Requirements to Boost Tourism Amid Economic Slowdown

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