Over the weekend, thousands of people took to Barcelona’s streets to protest mass tourism. Some demonstrators held signs, many marched and clapped, and others shot water guns at visitors.

According to The New York Times, the local police said that 2,800 people protested, but organizers of the demonstration suggested there were more.

Participants voiced their anger over high costs of living and a lack of places to live, made worse by the huge numbers of visitors each year.

Anti-tourism protests in Barcelona

“Spraying someone with water is not violent,” Daniel Pardo Rivacoba told The New York Times. Rivacoba reportedly helped organize the protest.

“It’s probably not nice,” he continued, “but what the population is suffering every day is more violent.”

Families were sprayed with water while eating at restaurants while the protesters gathered around. According to Spanish paper El País, a couple visitors were entering a restaurant when protestors use tape to block their path.

“It’s the first time we’ve come to Barcelona, we love it,” the visitors told the paper. “Nobody told us there was this unrest.”

El País additionally reported that the protest is happening right before the America’s Cup in Barcelona, which some local residents are opposed to.

“Residents and cars will have to present accreditation to enter the neighborhood — and at a time when Jaume Collboni’s City Council has been promoting events such as the Louis Vuitton catwalk in Park Güell or the Formula 1 demonstration on Passeig de Gràcia,” says the paper.

Dr. Tarik Dogru, associate professor of hospitality management at Florida State University, told The New York Times that if the city does not find a way to support its residents sustainably, the future is at stake.

“The city will be left with no resources,” he said. “There won’t be any tourists. And it’s a dead city.”

The impacts of mass tourism

Barcelona, Spain, is a hot spot for tourism. Per CNN, nearly 26 million visitors stayed in the area for overnight stays in 2023.


The Assemblea de Barris pel Decreixement Turístic — or Neighborhood Assembly for Tourism Degrowth — led the demonstration, stating that the earnings from tourism are “unfairly distributed and increase social inequality.” Additionally, the influx of crowds puts pressure on residents.

In June, the BBC reported that mayor Jaume Collboni of Barcelona had vowed to “eliminate short-term tourist lets in the city within five years,” an act that he said would equate to building 10,000 new homes for local residents.

Despite the plan, complaints have increased.

“The tourism and hotels is the group that really makes big money, but all the people are in a very poor situation and they don’t have enough money to live. That’s the problem,” protestor Joan Navarro-Bertran told NBC News.

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