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Barcelona protesters throw items and spray travelers with water while shouting ‘tourists go home’

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Millions flock to Barcelona every year to enjoy a sweet taste of idyllic European life. But over the weekend, thousands of locals marched through the streets and sprayed visitors with water guns in outrage over mass tourism.

Protesters were seen clapping and chanting, “Tourists go home!” and carrying signs with anti-tourist slogans, arguing that the flood of visitors has driven up living costs for residents. 

About 2,800 people participated in the protest according to the Guàrdia Urbana de Barcelona, the municipal city police force, Spanish paper El País reported. But members of the protest group, the Assemblea de Barris pel Decreixement Turístic, which translates to the Neighborhood Assembly for Tourist Degrowth, say as many as 20,000 joined, the paper reported.

“The tourism and hotels is the group that really makes big money, but all the people are in a very poor situation and they don’t have enough money to live. That’s the problem,” protester Joan Navarro-Bertran said. 

Barcelona is a gem in Western Europe, home to iconic sites like La Sagrada Familia — a cathedral designed by famed architect Antoni Gaudi that’s been under construction for more than 100 years — sparkling blue beaches and famous local cuisine. 

Tourism is also a major part of the local economy. Last year, about 26 million people visited the Barcelona area spending 9.6 billion euro (10.4 billion USD) in the city, according to the Tourism Observatory of Barcelona. 

A great part of the agitation among locals is the increasing price of housing and the displacement of long term residents.

Rent in the city has risen nearly 70% over the past decade, Mayor Jaume Collboni said, The BBC reported. In June, Collboni announced a plan to stop renewing permits for rentals used by foreign visitors by 2028, a move that would make 10,000 units available to locals in four years. 

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