Tourist protest Barcelona: Angry Spanish locals fire water guns at holidaymakers eating at popular restaurants in Las Ramblas

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Angry Spanish locals fired water guns at tourists in Barcelona who were eating outdoors in popular restaurants in the Las Ramblas district.

Demonstrators armed with water pistols targeted diners in Barcelona as part of an anti-tourist protest on Saturday (6 July). The scenes were part of a larger rally against mass tourism which saw around 2,800 people take to the streets under the banner “Enough! Let’s put limits on tourism.”

The protestors are calling for a reduction in the number of foreigners visiting Barcelona under a sustainable model. Several Catalans were shown firing although the guns did not appear capable of shooting a powerful stream.

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Some diners, including families, were forced to leave their tables. According to city council figures, Barcelona last year received more than 12 million tourists, 81 per cent of whom were from outside of Spain.

Angry Spanish locals fired water guns at tourists in Barcelona who were eating outdoors in popular restaurants in the Las Ramblas district. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)Angry Spanish locals fired water guns at tourists in Barcelona who were eating outdoors in popular restaurants in the Las Ramblas district. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)
Angry Spanish locals fired water guns at tourists in Barcelona who were eating outdoors in popular restaurants in the Las Ramblas district. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Many in Spain are angry about the rising cost in housing - Barcelona rents have increased 68 per cent in the past decade and 18 per cent in the past year. Costs for groceries and essentials have also been on the rise. 

Barcelona's mayor Jaume Collboni has already announced a plan to phase out all short-term lets by 2028. The mayor also said the city’s tourism tax would rise from €5.50 (£4.60) per night to €7.50 (£6.35). 

Spain's Socialist housing minister, Isabel Rodriguez, said she supported Barcelona's decision. She posted on X, formerly Twitter: "It's about making all the necessary efforts to guarantee access to affordable housing”.

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It comes as anti-tourist protests have been sweeping across Spain. In Málaga last month, 15,000 people marched against overtourism in a city where licenced tourism apartments have swelled to 12,000 from less than 1,000 in 2016.

In Palma de Mallorca, more than 10,000 marched in May against the lack of affordable housing due to the impact of tourism. Spain received a record 85 million foreign visitors in 2023, an increase of 18.7 per cent from the previous year, according to the country’s National Statistics Institute.

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