‘Tourists Go Home’: Barcelona’s Protests Against Overtourism



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Barcelona, one of the world’s most popular destinations, just got a rude awakening about how it manages tourism.

Thousands of protestors marched in Barcelona over the weekend against overtourism.

Nearly 3,000 people took to the street on Saturday. More than 140 organizations, including neighborhood associations, ecologists and housing activists marched under the slogans, “Enough, let’s put limits on tourism” and “Tourists go home,” reported Catalan News.

Some protestors sprayed tourists sitting at restaurants with water guns.

Locals are protesting over the lack of affordable housing, which they blame on short-term rentals, and overcrowding caused by the cruise industry. In late June, the city announced it will ban all short-term rentals by 2029.

Barcelona’s Turbulent History with Tourism

Barcelona has had protests against tourism in the past.

“These are the same problems we had pre-Covid. They’re just coming back a little bit bigger than they were before because there’s more people traveling,” said Yves Marceau, vice president of product for G Adventures. He said a lot of tourism has spread beyond the city center.

In 2022, the director general of Turisme de Barcelona was fired by the organization’s City and Tourism Council, which represents locals.

Barcelona is one of the most popular destinations in Europe right now. “It’s crowded. It’s a challenge to get anything, to get transportation, hotel, anything,” said Marceau.

G Adventures has reduced the number of days its tours spend in Barcelona to limit its contribution to overtourism. “We’ve been trying to limit the number of days we are in Barcelona as a group,” said Marceau.

Around 26 million tourists came to Barcelona in 2023, generating €12.75 billion ($13.8 billion) in spending, according to Turisme de Barcelona.

Barcelona is the latest destination in Spain to see a rise in protests against overtourism. Protests have erupted in the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Mallorca, Menorca and Malaga.

A major point of frustration for locals have been the growth in short-term rentals. In Malaga, the supply of short-term rentals rose 24% while demand rose 31%, according to AirDNA.

Destinations Clamp Down on Mass Tourism

This year, local politicians have enacted an array of policies like new taxes and cruise bans to discourage mass tourism.

  • Indonesia’s Bali now charges a “tourist levy” when they visit the island. In Iceland, the national government has reinstated its tourist tax.

Politicians have put these policies in place to preserve the quality of life of residents. Amsterdam Deputy Mayor Sofyan Mbarki told Skift an objective of his government has been to make Amsterdam “liveable” again for locals.



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