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Protesters fire water pistols at visitors in Barcelona

Protesters in Barcelona sprayed water at visitors as part of a demonstration against mass tourism. Disgruntled residents were seen in popular tourist areas on Saturday shouting “tourists go home” and squirting water at visitors, while others carried signs with slogans including “Barcelona is not for sale”.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the city in the latest demonstration against mass tourism in Spain, which has recently seen similar actions in the Canary Islands and Mallorca, denouncing the impact on the cost of living and quality of life of the local population.

The demonstration was organized by a group of more than 100 local organizations, led by the Neighborhood Assembly for the Degrowth of Tourism. According to official figures, almost 26 million visitors will stay overnight in the Barcelona region in 2023, spending 12.75 billion euros.

However, the entity claims that these visitors increase prices and put pressure on public services, while profits from the tourism industry are distributed unfairly and increase social inequality.

The group published 13 proposals to reduce visitor numbers and transition the city to a new tourism model, including closing cruise ship terminals, more regulation of tourist accommodation and ending public spending on tourism promotion.

On Saturday, the city’s mayor, Jaume Collboni, highlighted a series of measures he recently announced to reduce the impact of mass tourism, including increasing the nightly tourist tax to 4 euros and limiting the number of cruise ship passengers.

In late June, Collboni also announced that he would end the rental of apartments to tourists by 2028, eliminating short-term rental licenses for more than 10,000 apartments.

This would help make housing more affordable for long-term residents, according to Collboni, who said rents have risen 68 percent in the past 10 years, with the cost of buying a home rising 38 percent. However, Collboni has been criticized for allowing events such as a Louis Vuitton fashion show at architect Antoni Gaudí’s Parc Güell in May, as well as the upcoming America’s Cup sailing competition.

The growing discontent in Barcelona echoes similar protests elsewhere in Spain.

In April, locals in the Canary Islands mobilized to protest against overtourism, blaming visitors for forcing them from their homes and causing environmental damage.

Such complaints are common at many tourist hotspots around the world, which have recently seen record numbers of visitors as the travel industry recovers from a pandemic-induced recession.

These increases can be beneficial to local economies and hotel companies’ bottom lines, but they also come with notable downsides: increased noise, pollution, traffic, and pressure on resources; a lower quality of life for locals; and a diminished visitor experience, among others.

Not surprisingly, many tourist destinations have created initiatives and restrictions designed to combat over-visitation, including tourist taxes, campaigns to discourage disruptive visitors, and attendance limits at popular attractions.

Source: CNN Brasil

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