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  • 14 Jul, 2024

Why are Barcelona residents protesting against tourists?

Why are Barcelona residents protesting against tourists?

Thousands of people took part in anti-tourism protests in Barcelona in light of soaring housing costs.

A video of Barcelona residents shooting water guns at tourists in a restaurant was widely shared on social media. And it wasn't fake news. Residents of Spain's most touristy city did not mean to harm tourists, but sent a message: "Tourists go home."

It was the latest in a series of protests against mass tourism in a country that is set to welcome 85 million visitors in 2023.

Home to beautiful beaches and the world-famous Barcelona football club, Barcelona attracts millions of tourists every year. But the record influx of tourists has had an impact on the housing sector, driving up rental prices and making them unaffordable for some city residents. Read more about the anti-tourism protests in Barcelona here.

What happened?

According to police, around 2,800 anti-tourism protesters marched through Barcelona on Saturday, July 6. Videos circulating on social media showed protesters holding banners with slogans such as "Tourists, go home" and "Barcelona is not for sale". In the tourist district of Las Ramblas, protesters were also seen spraying tourists with water using colorful plastic water guns. In addition, protesters have blocked restaurants and hotels in northeastern coastal cities with bureaucratic barriers.

Why are there anti-tourism protests in Barcelona? The focus of protesters' concerns is the soaring cost of housing. According to real estate website Idealista, rental prices in Barcelona rose 18% last year. Over the past decade, rents have risen 68% and home purchase costs have risen 38%, making the city unlivable for locals. Apartments catering to tourists, including through online rental sites, are putting a strain on the local housing market.To combat this, Barcelona's socialist mayor, Jaume Corboni, announced on June 21 that he would ban more than 10,000 private lodgings from tourists by 2028.

This is not the first time a Barcelona mayor has taken such action: former Mayor Ada Colau also introduced an "anti-tourism policy" in 2017. Demonstrators are also opposed to a tourism-based economy, arguing that tourists make the city poorer and more dependent on them. This is not the first time tourism has come under scrutiny in Spain. In April, 57,000 demonstrators marched against tourism in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the west coast of Africa, about 2,200 km southwest of Barcelona.

Anti-tourism protests also took place in Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, Spain, in May and June, respectively. What other countries have tourism bans? "Don't come to Paris": Ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics, due to open in late July, locals in French cities have taken to social media to discourage tourists from visiting during the sporting event. They cited soaring hotel prices, tourist scams, pickpockets, and the fact that subway fares in Paris nearly double during the Olympic season. Anti-tourism graffiti in Athens: In May 2024, Athens residents joined other European countries in protesting overtourism, resulting in graffiti with slogans such as "No tourists, no hipsters" spreading across the Greek capital.

Kyoto city restrictions on tourists: In December, a group of residents in Kyoto's Gion district asked the city council to take measures against tourists, and Kyoto authorities banned foreign tourists from entering the narrow streets of the entertainment district.