Protesters spray water guns at tourists in Barcelona as thousands rally against overtourism

  • More than 150 activist groups gathered in Barcelona on Saturday to protest overtourism.

  • Footage showed protesters squirting water guns at tourists and telling them to "go home."

  • Barcelona is combating overtourism, which locals blame for the increased cost of living.

Protesters swarmed the streets of Barcelona to condemn mass tourism, which they blame for skyrocketing rent prices and the city becoming "unliveable."

Multiple outlets reported that thousands of protesters, including more than 150 organizations, marched through Barcelona on Saturday.

Photos showed protesters carrying signs that read, "Barcelona is not for sale" and "Tourists go home."

Two women with water guns among a crowd of protesters.
Protesters in Barcelona used water guns on tourists. Europa Press News/Getty Images

Footage obtained by BBC showed protesters using water guns against people visiting popular tourist areas while chanting, "Go home!"

Protesters also taped off certain restaurants and hotels as if to symbolically close the establishments.

Barcelona is a top tourist destination that draws millions of travelers annually with its Mediterranean climate and distinct culture. According to the Barcelona Tourism Observatory, the city welcomed 15.6 million tourists last year, with the wider region receiving nearly 26 million.

While the influx of travelers brings money to Barcelona's economy, it can also have adverse effects, such as increasing the local cost of living.

Workers at a restaurant standing behind a piece of red and white tape.
Protesters taped off restaurants and hotels in Barcelona on Saturday.SOPA Images/Getty Images
Two diners shrinking away from protesters as they sit across from each other at a restaurant table.
Diners at a restaurant in Barcelona during Saturday's protest.JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images

Reuters reported that rent in Barcelona and other popular cities such as Madrid rose by 18% in June compared with the previous year.

One protester told Reuters, "The city has turned completely for tourists, and what we want is a city for citizens and not in service of tourists."

Another said tourist-heavy venues such as restaurants and hotels made good money from tourists, but some locals "are in a very poor situation and they don't have enough money to live," adding, "That's a problem."

A resident told AFP the city was suffering as a result.

"I have nothing against tourism, but here in Barcelona, we are suffering from an excess of tourism that has made our city unliveable," they said.

Protesters in Barcelona with signs and flags marching behind a long banner that says, "Decreixement turistic Ja!"
Barcelona residents held signs and waved flags during the protest.JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images

Representatives for the mayor of Barcelona, the city's police department, and the tourism office didn't respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Barcelona officials have taken measures in recent months to address overtourism. It's an issue several popular tourist hubs are tackling, including Japan and Venice.

The city increased its tourist tax in April, USA Today reported.

In June, it announced plans to ban all short-term rentals.

"More supply of housing is needed, and the measures we're presenting today are to provide more supply so that the working middle class does not have to leave the city because they can't afford housing," Mayor Jaume Collboni of Barcelona said, according to Bloomberg. "This measure will not change the situation from one day to the next. These problems take time. But with this measure, we are marking a turning point."

Barcelona banned cruise ships from docking at one of its terminals last year to address overcrowding and pollution.

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