Spanish anti-tourism protesters target Barcelona visitors with water cannons

Thousands of protesters marched through Barcelona over the weekend to express anger at mass tourism and its effects on Spain’s most visited city. Visitors dining at restaurants in the popular La Barceloneta neighborhood were drenched as some protesters sprayed them with water cannons.

Video shows diners forced to move tables at restaurants to escape Saturday’s protests, while other restaurants were taped by protesters.

Carrying placards reading “Tourists go home” and calling for a cut in the number of foreign visitors to Barcelona, ​​protesters stood in front of hotels and restaurants to confront the tourists.

Mass anti-tourism protesters threw water on diners during a march in Barcelona to protest the impacts of over-tourism.


“I have nothing against tourism, but here in Barcelona we suffer from excessive tourism, which has made our city unlivable,” one of the demonstrators told the French news agency AFP.

Local officials say the cost of housing in the Spanish city has risen 68% in the past decade, making it one of the main points of contention among disgruntled residents.

“In the last years, the city has become completely for tourists, and what we want is a city for citizens and not for the service of tourists,” another protester told a Reuters news camera.

In June, Barcelona Mayor Jaime Colboni said that by 2028, he would stop renewing thousands of tourism licenses that allow landlords to rent accommodation to foreign visitors. Collboni said the move would make homes currently advertised on sites like Airbnb available to locals.

An anti-tourism placard was also seen during the protest. More than 3,000 people demonstrated in Barcelona against the tourist crowds that have plagued the city and in support of policies to reduce tourism. The demonstration included the symbolic closure of hotels, bars and restaurants as it marched towards Barceloneta, one of the neighborhoods most affected by the presence of tourism.

Paco Freire/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

According to local authorities, more than 12 million tourists visited the city last year alone.

The latest protest comes after similar large-scale demonstrations in other tourist areas across Spain. A demonstration in Malaga, in the southern part of the country, drew around 15,000 people against over-tourism in June, while on the island of Palma de Mallorca more than 10,000 people marched against the impact of mass tourism in May.

According to INE, Spain’s national statistics office, more than 33 million tourists visited the country in the first five months of 2024 alone, an increase of 13.6% over the previous year.

Spain is not the only European country struggling with the impact of tourism on local populations. Earlier this year, Venice, Italy It became the first city to be charged on daily visitors.

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