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Anti-tourism protests in Spain spread to Barcelona – World

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A tourist watches as demonstrators protest against mass tourism in Barcelona, Spain, July 6, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Thousands have protested against over-tourism in Barcelona, Spain’s most visited city, with more than 150 organizations and social movements taking to the streets.

Protests against tourist overcrowding have previously taken place in the Canary Islands and Mallorca in recent months.

On Saturday, approximately 3,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Barcelona, according to local authorities.

The protest united more than 150 collectives, organizations, and social movements, with demonstrators chanting “tourists, go home” while symbolically blocking access to hotels and restaurant terraces, reported Euronews.

Activists are demanding immediate action to limit tourism ahead of the upcoming summer season, which is forecast to break visitor records in both Barcelona and the wider Catalonia region.

Demonstrators argue that the tourist influx strains local resources and drives up housing costs for residents.

The protesters are calling for measures such as limiting short-term rentals, implementing more tourist taxes, and promoting more sustainable forms of tourism that benefit local communities rather than just the tourism industry.

Organizers say the economic model for tourism is not working. In a social media post, activist Marti Cuso, a spokesperson for the Association of Neighbors of the Gothic Quarter, said: “We want the city’s economic model to prioritize other much fairer economies. And for that, we consider that we have to decrease tourism.”

As Spain’s top tourist destination, Barcelona continues to grapple with the challenges of over-tourism. The city attracts 32 million visitors annually, with a significant number arriving by cruise ships.

To address this issue, the city council has recently approved a measure to increase tourist tax, which will rise to 4 euros ($4.34) per person starting in October.

“What worries me is what tourism and speculation entail, the speculation they are doing with the housing of the Spaniards. Spaniards have the right to decent housing,” a local resident told Euronews.

One protester told news agency Reuters: “We come here to demonstrate against mass touristification in Barcelona. The city has increasingly catered to tourists, and we want a city for citizens, not just for tourists.”

Another added: “Restaurants and hotels are making huge profits, but people are struggling to make ends meet. That’s a problem.”

Barcelona’s mayor, Jaume Collboni, recently unveiled a plan to address the city’s housing crisis and overtourism concerns, with an initiative that aims to phase out all short-term rentals by 2028 and significantly reduce the number of tourist apartments in the city.

Spain’s Housing Minister Isabel Rodriguez, has thrown her support behind the measures, underscoring the urgent need for affordable housing.

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