Thursday, July 18, 2024

Barcelona residents use water guns to squirt tourists in overtourism protest

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Some Barcelona residents have a message for tourists in Spain’s most visited city: Go home.

Thousands of Barcelona residents took to the streets last weekend in a protest demonstration against overtourism, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais and other published reports.

To underscore their message, according to the reports, residents carried toy squirt guns that were used to spray tourists with water as they dined outdoors at restaurants. 

Protestors also symbolically sealed off hotel entrances and dining terraces with tape and carried signs that said, “Tourism Kills the City” and “Tourists, Go Home.”

According to the Guardia Urbana de Barcelona, the municipal police force, more than 2,800 residents participated in the demonstrations where they called for more action to be taken to curb mass tourism, El Pais reported. There were also about 150 organizations, made up of neighborhood associations, social groups and more, that participated in the protests.

This weekend’s demonstrations were just the latest in what has been a string of overtourism protests in the country in recent months.

Protests have taken place in Palma, Malaga and the Canary Islands. The protests have reportedly been well-attended, but numbers have fluctuated since the first protests in April.

El Pais reported that more than 57,000 protestors participated in demonstrations spread across the Canary Islands on April 20. On May 25, around 10,000 people protested in Palma, and on June 29, about 15,000 people participated in protests in Malaga. 

The city’ efforts to curb overtourism

Barcelona has struggled with overtourism and ways to combat it over the years.  

In 2023, the city banned cruise ships from docking near the city center, requiring ships instead to dock instead at Moll Adossat pier south of the city center. 

In 2022, the city introduced restrictions for tour guides and groups that addressed noise concerns and overcrowding. Guides have been banned from using megaphones and must adhere to guiding groups in one-way directions only. Group sizes were also limited, down to 30 in city center and up to 15 in smaller areas.

In January, according to a post on the site of travel authorization system ETIAS, the city voted to once again raise the tourism tax beginning in October, increasing the tax to 4 euros, up from 3.25 euros.

And late last month, the city announced plans to ban all short-term apartment rentals by the end of 2028. The measure, according to Reuters, would strip more than 10,000 apartments of their short-term rental licenses.

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