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A few weeks ago, Jaume Collboni, the mayor of Barcelona, announced that the popular tourist city will ban apartment rentals to tourists by November 2028. That’s over 10,000 apartments that currently have a permit for short-term rentals. The reason why? To lower soaring housing costs and make Barcelona a liveable city again for residents. RELATED: I got mugged in Barcelona: Here are 12 tips to help you travel safe

Yesterday, locals tried to speed up the process of getting rid of tourists by holding up signs that read “tourists go home” and worse, drenching diners along main boulevards like Las Rambles with squirt guns. See the embedded video below.


As you can imagine, tourists are not happy because they spent their hard-earned money to go to a destination that the country’s tourism office spent years and likely millions of dollars to promote. Now, it’s reached a point where they’re going to take action. Here’s some of the comments from the YouTube video above:

@johnoneill436: Everyone should boycott Spain and see just how well their economy does without tourism

@DennisBlake-bf8mp: Greece is much cleaner than Spain and they value tourism

@TheAtlasReview: And they’ll be protesting again if those tourists take their money out of Spain.

@artboy5938: Don’t go to Barcelona anyway ! It’s full of Pickpockets.

@herbertjohnston4608: It’s not the tourists’ fault blame your politicians there’s lots of sun elsewhere.

@josmith3021: 2800 people don’t want tourists in a city with a population in the millions. How stupid.

Some travel writers are saying the same. Valerie Wilson, who goes by the handle TrustedTravelGirl, has an eye-popping thread on the social media site Threads. She posted: “Re: tourists being squirted with squirt guns and told to leave Barcelona: Last week when getting off the cruise, multiple people had asked me what to do in Barcelona and I jokingly said: “LEAVE!” Which is exactly what i did. Barcelona is a beautiful city with so much offer but between the theft and this— like why bother? That’s why I went to Paris the day the ship got to port. I’m going to say it again – ruin tourism in your city and you will collapse your local economy and you will be sorry.”

 

Post by @trustedtravelgirl
View on Threads

 


Not everyone took kindly to it, especially the locals who trashed both her Thread and cruise ships. Here are just a few of the hundreds of comments:

@ivan_galitsios_salguero: Tourist go home. Nor do we need you or want you. The cities are for the inhabitants and not a theme park for tourist. Barcelona was there thriving before you ever heard about it and will still thrive when you stop coming. And the same goes for all major Spanish cities. Go elsewhere to ruin the place. Mass tourism kills cities.

@Psychemax: Imagine believing that tourism is the only way a city like Barcelona thrives. Barcelona doesn’t need tourists, and most definitely doesn’t need a specific kind of tourists – on top of not needing the awful Airbnb cityscape that’s being created by folks believing that these cities “NEED” tourists.

@Axelcureno: If it makes you feel better, cruise tourists are disliked worldwide.

A lot of travelers on Valerie’s thread, like the one below, shared their awful experience in Spain and vowed never to go back again:

@Willedmond: I got robbed in Madrid after two days in the city. They took everything from me: money, passport, and debit card. I was buying something at a kiosk and went to get another drink, and my entire fanny pack was taken without me feeling a thing. I went to the police station right afterward, and there were at least 30-40 other people there who had been robbed in the last hour. You will get pickpocketed in Spain. That’s one country I wouldn’t visit again.

I’ve been fortunate to travel to Barcelona and many other places in Spain multiple times. It’s an amazing country, though with some serious problems … like so much of the world. One of the problems is thieves. After one of my writers was mugged there with her husband (here’s her story) over a decade ago, I heard horror story after horror story from readers and friends who got pickpocketed or robbed there, too.

In fact, last summer, while boarding a cruise (here’s my review of the Enchanted Princess) in Barcelona with my family, a lady in line next to us shared her story about how she almost didn’t make the cruise because a couple of young girls offered to ‘help’ carry her bags down the stairs since the escalator was ‘broken.’ It wasn’t and they stole her purse, including her passport. Theft is a huge problem and one of the reasons I never like to spend a lot of time in Barcelona.

But an even bigger problem is not feeling welcomed while on vacation. I don’t think anybody wants to go where they’re not welcome and this latest incident may escalate things. I was supposed to be in Barcelona again this summer but had to cancel because my family and I got sick. But if these types of anti-tourist protests keep going, there’s not a chance I would take my kids to a place like that.

I live in a popular Southern California beach town. I know what it feels like when tourist buses start unloading passengers, creating long lines, crowded beaches and high housing prices. But I would never dream of making the tourists feel unwelcome. You just have to learn to live with them or move out. I also take pride in my country and try, as much as possible, to be a good ambassador of America both at home and when I travel abroad.

I now mostly go to the beach and downtown in the off-season or early in the morning when it’s a lot less crowded. I avoid peak tourist periods so visitors can enjoy themselves and I don’t get stressed out.

Travel blogger @Nomadicmatt commented on Valerie’s post with this: “Uncontrolled tourism has ruined a lot of places and protests like this are designed to get the government to act. Locals are angry. Airbnbs have taken housing off the market & cruise ships like the one you took dump unsustainable numbers of people into the city. When you talk to locals it’s less about all tourists go home and more about creating a balance. Don’t dismiss their valid concerns. Tourism only accounts for 15% of the economy but has an outsized influence on quality of life.”

So, how do you feel about traveling to Barcelona in the future? Will these anti-tourist protests influence your plans not to visit? Leave a comment below.

KEEP READING:
Rick Steves got pickpocketed In Paris – Here’s how to prevent it from happening to you
Trip report: Toronto to Barcelona in Air Canada’s Premium Economy
Why you should wear a money belt when you travel
Going to Europe or somewhere hot this summer? Pack a wearable or portable fan to beat the sweltering heat
Traveling to a tourist hotspot this summer? Here’s what to wear to keep your valuables safe

4 Comments On "Tourists squirted with squirt guns by anti-tourist protesters in Barcelona"
  1. Gretchen Mayes|

    As a former cruise ship employee, I have been to Barcelona many times. Beautiful city! But I won’t go back. Too much crime. I believe the cruise industry has created a lot of the “anti-tourist” mentality in popular tourist destinations. When multiple large cruise ships are in port at the same time, thousands of people are unleashed at the same time and it can be overwhelming. I am sure the businesses like the money, but there has to be a balance. Las Ramblas is iconic. It now appears to be just a massive crowd of people moving in mass. Can’t be much fun.

  2. priya wong|

    Not all tourists are bad, we have to look closer to home, I saw the local people who dumped all the trashes out of their own car too. I dove on the Fwy and got hit by coffee cup that this jerk tossed out of the window.

  3. Marlin|

    The thing I always wonder when people act so horribly, don’t they ever go anywhere as a tourist themselves? I am shure they do, would they want to be treated like that?

  4. Kevin|

    I was planning on a 3-week trip to Barcelona this September. Now going to Greece because of this. Will spend my money where it’s wanted.

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