'Barcelona Is Not For Sale': Why Are Foreigners In Barcelona Being Asked To Go Back? Mass Protestors Squirt Water Guns At Tourists

Several videos surfaced on the Internet over the weekend showed diners in popular tourist areas being squirted with water pistols and crowds of protesters chanting “tourists go home.” Read on to know what’s really happening

Thousands of protesters took to roads on Saturday in Barcelona, Spain, to protest against mass tourism and its impact on the city, which is the most visited in the country. This demonstration is the latest in a series of similar marches across Spain.

Why Are Foreigners In Barcelona Being Asked To Go Back?

The protestors were seen chanting slogans like “Enough! Let’s put limits on tourism.” Many carried placards reading “Barcelona is not for sale,” as around 3,000 people marched through a waterfront district of Barcelona.

They demanded a new economic model that would reduce the influx of millions of tourists each year.

Several videos surfaced on the Internet over the weekend showed diners in popular tourist areas being squirted with water pistols and crowds of protesters chanting “tourists go home.”

The rising cost of housing in Barcelona, which has increased by 68 percent over the past decade according to local authorities, is a major concern for the movement. Additionally, the protesters highlighted the negative effects of tourism on local commerce and working conditions in the city, which has a population of 1.6 million.

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How Is The Negative Effects Of Mass Tourism Being Addressed?

Isa Miralles, a 35-year-old musician and protestor living in the Barceloneta district shed light on the protests saying, “Local shops are closing to make way for stores that do not serve the needs of neighborhoods. People cannot afford their rents.”

To address the “negative effects of mass tourism,” the city council, led by Socialist Jaume Collboni, announced 10 days ago a ban on tourist apartment rentals, of which there are currently over 10,000. This ban, set to take effect by 2028, aims to return these apartments to the local housing market.

The mayor of Barcelona pledged to eliminate short-term tourist rentals within five years, ensuring the apartments will be available for local residents instead. These protests in Barcelona follow similar demonstrations in other tourist hotspots, including Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, and the Canary Islands.

26 Million Visitors Made An Overnight Stay In The Barcelona In 2023

According to official figures, nearly 26 million visitors stayed overnight in the Barcelona region in 2023, spending €12.75 billion ($13.8 billion). However, the Assemblea de Barris pel Decreixement Turístic argues that these visitors drive up prices and strain public services, while the profits from tourism are unfairly distributed, exacerbating social inequality.

The organization has released 13 proposals to reduce the number of visitors and transition the city to a new tourism model. These proposals include closing cruise ship terminals, increasing regulation of tourist accommodations, and ending public spending on tourism promotion.

The city’s mayor, Jaume Collboni, highlighted a series of recent measures aimed at mitigating the impact of mass tourism. These measures include raising the nightly tourist tax to €4 ($4.30) and limiting the number of cruise ship passengers.

Collboni recently also announced that it would end apartment rentals for tourists by 2028 by ending short-term rental licenses for more than 10,000 apartments.

These surges can benefit local economies and hospitality businesses’ profits, but they also come with significant downsides: increased noise, pollution, traffic, and strain on resources; a lower quality of life for residents; and a diminished experience for visitors, among other issues.

Unsurprisingly, many popular tourist destinations have implemented initiatives and restrictions to combat overtourism. These measures include new or increased tourist taxes, campaigns to discourage problematic behavior from visitors, and attendance caps at popular attractions.

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