7 Jul, 2024 @ 12:47
1 min read

Anti-tourism protests reach Barcelona: Thousands of locals take to the streets while ‘sealing off’ hotels and restaurants

Tourist Minister calls out Barcelona protestors as 'reprehensible' for spraying foreign holidaymakers with water

THE ongoing protests against tourism in Spain reached Barcelona on Saturday, as thousands of locals took to the streets of the Catalan capital to demand change.

Some of the demonstrators symbolically ‘sealed off’ hotels and restaurants along their route down the hugely popular La Rambla street, while others chanted ‘Tourists, go home’, while carrying placards with similar messages. 

Around 3,000 people took part in the protest, which had been organised by more than 150 collectives, social movements and civic organisations. 

They were demanding action to be taken to curb the number of tourists in the city due to what they say are problems the sector causes, such as high property and rental prices, antisocial behaviour on the streets and overcrowding. 

Read more: Thousands of locals take to the streets of Malaga in latest protest against ‘excessive’ tourism in Spain

Protest against tourism in Barcelona
Thousands of people protest in downtown Barcelona against the city’s tourist overcrowding, demanding that measures be taken to stop a situation they consider unsustainable.
(Photo by Eric Renom/LaPresse)

“We want the city’s economic model to prioritise other much fairer economies,” said Marti Cuso, a spokesperson for the Gothic Quarter’s residents association, and an activist. 

“And for that we consider that we have to decrease tourism,” he added, in comments reported by Euronews

“What worries me is what tourism and speculation entail, the speculation they are doing with the housing of the Spaniards,” a local resident told Euronews. “Spaniards have the right to decent housing.”

Barcelona is currently Spain’s most-visited city, receiving an enormous 32 million visitors on average every year. 

The City Council recently announced an ambitious plan to withdraw all licences for short-term rentals – tourist accommodation such as Airbnb – by 2028. 

The demonstrations in Barcelona on Saturday came in the wake of similar protests in a series of Spanish destinations earlier this year, such as Malaga, the Canary Islands and Palma on the Balearic Island of Mallorca. 

Staff Reporter

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1 Comment

  1. Spain is part of Schengen, with free movement of people, so its difficult to stop people going on vacation in popular areas around the Med. Have the protestors ever be on a vacation outside of Barcelona, if they have, they are being hypocrites.

    Squirting water at the food of people in restaurants is really out of order from a food hygiene and health safety point of view. Where did the water come from. Is it clean? It’s an easy way to spread disease.

    I have no problem with protest, though I think the focus should be with the local and regional governemnt rather than the tourists themselves. Barcelona should stop issuing planning permission for tourist appartments, and reduce licences for home owners to offerr tourist lets. There are laws and fines that can be applied if these issues were properly regulated. Also stop the cruise ships, or charge a larger landing fee.

    But ultimatley they need to create a balance between business that rely on tourist income with citizens ability to find somewhere affordable to live. Its a politcal problem. In 2022 tourism accounted for 11.6% of Spanish GDP. Spanish GDP was about 1.48 trillion. So tourism in 2022 contributed some 171 Billion euros to the Spanish Economy. Many Brits are now saying if Spain doesn’t want them they will go to Greece or other destinations, egged on by alarmist stories in the Tabloid press.

    I mainly live in London, that can be mobbed by tourists from all over Europe and the world, including from Spain, and where its even more expensive to find somewhere to live than Barcelona. I hosted Spanish friends here earlier this year. I also live part of my time in the Marina Alta region, where I have extended Spanish family, so I can see the problem from both sides. It needs a political solution, and less anger.

    Location : London/ Marina Alta

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