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Anti-tourism protesters in Barcelona fire water pistols at visitors


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Protesters in Barcelona Visitors sprayed with water as part of a demonstration against mass violence. tourism.

Protesters marching through popular tourist areas on Saturday chanted “Tourists go home” and pelted them with water pistols, while others held up banners with slogans including “Barcelona is not for sale”.

Lorena Sobina/Europa Press/Associated Press

According to Barcelona City Council, about 2,800 people demonstrated against mass tourism in central Barcelona on Saturday.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the city in the latest demonstration against mass tourism in Spain, which has seen similar movements in the Canary Islands and Mallorca recently, denouncing its impact on the cost of living and quality of life for local residents.

The demonstration was organized by a group of more than 100 local organizations, led by Paris Tourism Discount Association
(Neighborhood Association for Tourism Development).

Joseph Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Diners tremble as protesters pass by the restaurant.

According to official figures, some 26 million visitors stayed overnight in the Barcelona area in 2023, spending €12.75 billion ($13.8 billion).

But the Ports Association for the Fight Against Tourism Deterioration says these visitors drive up prices and put pressure on public services, while profits from the tourism industry are distributed unfairly, increasing social inequality.

It published 13 proposals to reduce visitor numbers and transform the city into a new model of tourism, including closing cruise ship terminals, more regulation of tourist accommodation, and capping public spending on tourism promotion.

On Saturday, the city’s mayor, Jaume Colboni, highlighted a series of measures he recently announced to curb the impact of mass tourism, including increasing the night-time tourism tax to €4 ($4.30) and limiting the number of cruise ship passengers.

At the end of June, Colbone also announced that it would end rentals to tourists by 2028 by cancelling short-term rental licenses for more than 10,000 apartments.

This should help make housing more affordable for long-term residents, Colboni said, noting that rents have risen 68% in the past 10 years, with the cost of buying a home up 38%.

However, Colboni has been heavily criticised for allowing events such as the Louis Vuitton fashion show to take place in Antoni Gaudi’s Park Güell in May, as well as the upcoming America’s Cup sailing competition.

The growing discontent in Barcelona mirrors similar protests in other parts of Spain.

In April, the locals in Canary Islands They were mobilized to protest against OvertourismThey accuse visitors of raising the prices of their homes and causing environmental damage.

These complaints are common in many popular tourist destinations around the world, which have seen record numbers of visitors recently as the travel industry recovers from the pandemic-induced slump.

Such increases may be beneficial to local economies and hospitality business bottom lines, but they also come with significant downsides: increased noise, pollution, traffic, and pressure on resources; reduced quality of life for local residents; and a reduced visitor experience, among others.

Not surprisingly, many tourist destinations have launched initiatives and imposed restrictions aimed at combating overtourism, including new or increased tourism taxes, campaigns to discourage problem visitors, and attendance caps at popular tourist attractions.

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