Tourists Not Welcome: Barcelona Locals Fire Water Guns at Visitors in Anti-Tourism Protest

By Jose Resurreccion

Jul 09, 2024 04:36 AM EDT

Tourists Not Welcome: Barcelona Locals Fire Water Guns at Visitors in Anti-Tourism Protest
A demonstrator takes part in a protest against mass tourism on Barcelona's Las Ramblas alley, on July 6, 2024.
(Photo : JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Locals of Barcelona took to the streets over the weekend to protest the overtourism reported in the area. 

CNN reported that some of the protesters harassed tourists by vandalizing restaurant and bar fronts, cordoning off alfresco areas, some of which were occupied by diners, and even firing water guns at walking tourists. 

Other protesters chanted phrases such as "Tourists, go home" and held signs reading "Barcelona is not for sale."

The demonstration, which attracted over 100 local organizations and almost 3,000 protesters, was organized by the Assemblea de Barris pel Decreixement Turístic (Neighborhood Assembly for Tourism Growth in Catalan). The protest demanded that tourism in the city be curbed as it dramatically affects the cost of living and quality of life there. 

Summer Protests Against Overtourism

Barcelona is home to several tourist attractions, including the Sagrada Familia Basilica, which is set to be completed by 2026.

According to Morning Brew, the city, Spain's second largest and capital of the province of Catalonia, has been the latest in a string of protests involving locals who are opposed to the oversaturation of tourists in their area. 

Most of the protests involved areas of Mediterranean Spain such as Malaga and Palma de Mallorca, where thousands of locals participated in the protests held earlier this year. Similar protests were also recorded in the Canary Islands.

Historically, Mediterranean Spain was part of the thalassocratic Crown of Aragon before its unity with the Crown of Castille to form modern Spain in the late 15th century. 

Most of the areas of this realm speak Catalan instead of Castilian Spanish and have been clamoring for greater autonomy or, in the case of Catalonia, outright independence. 

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

Proposals to Limit Mass Tourism in Barcelona

Official figures show that almost 26 million visitors stayed overnight in Barcelona and its suburbs in 2023, spending €12.75 billion ($13.81 billion). 

However, the Assembly said that visitors to the city increased prices and put pressure on public services. The group also claimed that profits from the tourism industry have been unfairly distributed, which would result in increased social inequality. 

As a result, the group published 13 proposals that would reduce the number of visitors to the city and transition it to a new tourism model across Spain. Such measures include closing cruise ship terminals, enforcing stricter regulations on tourist accommodations, and ending public spending on tourism promotion.

On Saturday (July 6), Barcelona mayor Jaume Collboni highlighted a series of measures to reduce the impact of mass tourism. Some of them include the creation of a €4 ($4.30) nightly tourist tax and a cap on the number of cruise ship passengers who can visit the city. 

Collboni also announced in late June that Barcelona would end apartment rentals for tourists by 2028 by abolishing short-term rental licenses for over 10,000 apartments. This measure was meant to offer some relief and make housing more affordable for longer-term residents after rents increased an average of 68% in the past decade and the house cost rose to 38%. 

This did not shield Collboni from criticism as events like the Louis Vuitton fashion show continued in May and the upcoming America's Cup sailing competition. 

Meanwhile, VCPost reported in April that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez discontinued the "golden visa" program, which provided residency rights to foreigners who make significant investments in real estate, in an effort to make housing affordable.

READ MORE: Spain: Majorca Beach Club Collapse Leaves 4 Dead, Dozens Injured After Being Crushed Under Falling Rubble

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