Too Much of a Good Thing

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Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Barcelona this week to protest against mass tourism and its impact on the Catalan city, with locals blaming the rising number of visitors for the rising cost of housing and goods, CBS News reported.

Over the weekend, demonstrators marched near restaurants, hotels and tourist sites holding banners saying “Tourists, go home”, and calling for a reduction of visitors to the Catalan capital.

Videos and pictures posted online showed protesters using water guns aimed at dining tourists. Some guests were also prevented from leaving their hotels when campaigners taped up exits.

The weekend protests came as tensions are mounting across Spain over surging housing and rental costs, with many blaming trends on increasing visitors. Rents increased by an average of 13 percent last month compared with a year earlier, and by 18 percent in tourist centers, such as Barcelona and Madrid, according to Sky News.

Local authorities estimated that more than 12 million people visited Barcelona last year. Meanwhile, official statistics showed that more than 33 million people visited Spain in the first five months of 2024 – an increase of nearly 14 percent over 2023.

While they are not against tourism, many demonstrators lamented that officials need to make it “more sustainable” and control the flow of visitors.

Similar protests also occurred in other parts of Spain recently: Last month, around 15,000 people protested over-tourism in the southern city of Malaga, while the island of Palma de Mallorca saw at least 10,000 people demonstrating in May. Protests have been ongoing for months in the Canary Islands.

In response to the unrest, Barcelona’s government has announced plans to phase out all short-term apartment rentals in the city by 2028.

Last week, the Spanish government said it would begin probing listings on platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com to verify that they have licenses to rent property.

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