Barcelona residents protest against mass tourism


Thousands of protesters marched in Barcelona on Saturday to denounce mass tourism and its impact on Spain’s most visited city, the latest in a series of similar marches in the country.

Under the slogan “Enough! Let’s put limits on tourism,” some 2,800 people marched through a waterfront neighborhood in Barcelona to demand a new economic model that would reduce the millions of tourists who visit each year, according to police.

“I have nothing against tourism, but here in Barcelona we are suffering from an excess of tourism, which has made our city unliveable,” said Jordi Guiu, a 70-year-old sociologist.

Carrying banners reading “Restrict tourism now!”, the protesters chanted slogans such as “Tourists out of our neighborhood.” They stopped in front of hotels, to the surprise of visitors.

Rising house prices in Barcelona, ​​which have increased by 68 percent over the past decade, according to local authorities, are one of the main problems for the movement, along with the impact of tourism on local commerce and working conditions in the city of 1.6 million people.

“Local shops are closing to make way for shops that don’t meet the needs of the neighborhoods. People can no longer pay their rent,” said Isa Miralles, a 35-year-old musician who lives in the Barceloneta neighborhood.

The northeastern coastal city, home to internationally renowned landmarks such as La Sagrada Familia, welcomed more than 12 million tourists last year, according to local authorities.

In order to combat the “negative effects of mass tourism”, the city council, led by the socialist Jaume Collboni, announced ten days ago that the rental of apartments to tourists (there are now more than 10,000) would be banned from 2028. These apartments could then be offered on the local housing market again.

The announcement could lead to a legal battle and has been rejected by an association of tourist apartments, which say it will only fuel the black market.

The protests in Barcelona follow similar demonstrations in tourist hotspots such as Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and the Canary Islands.

According to the National Statistics Institute, Spain will receive 85 million foreign visitors in 2023, making it the second most visited country after France.

The most visited region was Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital, with 18 million inhabitants, followed by the Balearic Islands (14.4 million) and the Canary Islands (13.9 million).


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