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Friday,  July 19, 2024 6:34 PM 

“Tourists go home:” Barcelona anti-tourism protesters squirt water at visitors

  • Buzz
  •   07-09-2024  8:58 am
  •   Pax Global Media

“Tourists go home:” Barcelona anti-tourism protesters squirt water at visitors
A protestor in Barcelona holds up “tourists go home" sign. (YouTube)
Pax Global Media

The fight against overtourism intensified in Barcelona over the weekend as thousands of protesters marched the streets on Saturday (July 6), squirting visitors with water guns while chanting “tourists go home.”

Reports say that bystanders dining in restaurants in the popular La Barceloneta neighborhood were soaked when protesters sprayed them with water.

Video footage circulating online shows diners being forced to change tables at restaurants to escape the marchers, while other restaurants were taped off by protestors. 

Others, meanwhile, carried signs with slogans that read “Barcelona is not for sale,” CNN reports.

Suffering from “excess” tourism

The demonstration against mass tourism was organized by a group of more than 100 local organizations, led by the Assemblea de Barris pel Decreixement Turístic (Neighbourhood Assembly for Tourism Degrowth).

Almost 26 million visitors made an overnight stay in the Barcelona region in 2023, spending €12.75 billion ($13.8 billion USD). However, the group says tourists are only increasing prices and putting pressure on local services.

READ MORE: “A polluting form of tourism”: Amsterdam to halve cruise ship traffic, will relocate terminal

The group also argues that profits from the tourism industry are unfairly distributed and leading to greater gaps in social equality.

"I have nothing against tourism, but here in Barcelona we are suffering from an excess of tourism that has made our city unliveable," one of the demonstrators told the French news agency AFP.

Local authorities say the cost of housing has risen 68 per cent in the Spanish city over the past decade. This is one of the main points of contention for 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," a protester told a Reuters news camera.

Group targets cruises

The group behind the protest has posted 13 proposals to reduce the number of visitors and transition the city to a new model of tourism.

The list includes the closure of cruise ship terminals, more regulation of tourist accommodations and an end to public spending on tourism promotion.

In June, Mayor of Barcelona Jaume Collboni said that by 2028, he would stop renewing tourist licenses that permit landlords to rent out accommodation to foreigners.

The move would make homes, which are currently advertised on platforms such as Airbnb, available to locals, Collboni said.

Saturday’s protest wasn't the first anti-tourism protest to hit Spain.

A protest in Málaga, in the south, drew some 15,000 people to rally against overtourism in June, while the island of Palma de Mallorca saw more than 10,000 people march against the mass tourism in May.

Europe cracks down on overtourism

Spain isn't the only European nation grappling with the impact of heavy tourism. Earlier this year, Venice, Italy became the first city to impose a fee on daily visitors.

Amsterdam in the Netherlands is also looking at ways to combat overtourism.

Last month, the city announced a plan to slowly phase out cruise ships, capping ships to 100 a year from 2026 onwards (currently, the maximum is 190).

Amsterdam officials want to relocate the city's Passenger Terminal. (Merijn Roubroeks)

The Dutch city is also looking at closing its cruise Passenger Terminal – which is about a 15-minute walk to the city’s centre – in about ten years.  

The aim, local city council said, is to move the terminal from its current location on Veemkade in 2035 – a move that “put an end to the cruise terminal in Amsterdam.”

“Banning cruise ships is also part of a broad package of measures to limit the growth of tourism and combat nuisance,” reads a June 26 press release.

In a statement, Hester van Buren, Deputy Mayor of the City of Amsterdam, said “sea cruise is a polluting form of tourism and contributes to crowds and emissions in the city.”

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