Protest in Barcelona against mass tourism

Demonstration against mass tourism in Barcelona, ​​July 6, 2024. JOSEP LAGO / AFP

Thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday, July 6 in Barcelona against overtourism in the capital of Catalonia, which welcomes thousands of visitors each year, anger that is growing in Spain, the world’s second largest tourist destination. Under the slogan: “Enough! Let’s put limits on tourism”some 2,800 protesters, according to police, marched to demand a change in the economic model for the city, the most visited in the country.

“We have nothing against tourism, but we have nothing against excessive tourism, because it makes the city unlivable.”explains Jordi Guiu, a 70-year-old sociologist from Barcelona. Behind a banner “Reduce tourism now!”the protesters marched chanting slogans such as “tourists outside our neighborhoods”stopping in front of some hotels to the surprise of visitors.

Critics of overtourism mainly denounce its effect on housing prices – rents have increased by 68% over the last decade, according to Barcelona City Hall – but also its harmful consequences on local businesses, the environment or the working conditions of local employees.

More than 12 million tourists in 2023

“Everyday businesses are closing to make way for a business model that does not meet the needs of the neighborhood. People (…) can’t pay the rent, they have to leave”complains Isa Miralles, a 35-year-old musician who lives in the Barceloneta neighborhood.

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Barcelona welcomed more than 12 million tourists last year, according to the city council. To make it easier for residents to find housing, the city recently announced that it wants to put an end to the rental of tourist apartments by 2029.

From the Balearic Islands to the Canary Islands, via the major tourist cities of Andalusia such as Malaga, movements hostile to overtourism are multiplying in Spain. The second largest tourist destination in the world after France, Spain welcomed a record 85.1 million foreign visitors last year. The most visited region was Catalonia with 18 million visitors, followed by the Balearic Islands (14.4 million) and the Canary Islands (13.9 million). Tourism in Spain represents 12.8% of GDP and accounts for 12.6% of jobs.

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The World with AFP

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