Anti-tourist activists in Barcelona squirt water guns at visitors to solve city's self-imposed problems

I don’t think “self inflicted” is the right term here.


People in Barcelona are sick and tired of tourists, who stopped being rare, interesting or exotic decades ago. They may also think that asking strangers where they are from is rude and potentially racist.

As noted above, Catalans would probably prefer you to speak English instead of Spanish if you can’t speak Catalan.

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I’ll be brutaly honest here, the above statement is true, but not many Catalans in Barcelona, so spanish or english is safer. :laughing:

What I usually recommend (obviosly not everyone can do it) is doing what tourism used to be, and be a guest of someone local (even if you sleep in a hotel). My experience traveling is that everything is 200% more enjoyable when you have befriended someone living there and you don’t go visit the city, but the friend. You’ll enjoy better food, better company and better conversation :smiley:

ETA: That was only half a pun. There are a lot of inmigrants in Barcelona. A LOT. Both from inside and outside Spain. “Learn some catalan while in catalunya” is really a good suggestion, and I do recommend trying that north of barcelona (ie: Girona, L’escala, specially any place that is not foreign tourist catered). In Barcelona, trying to speak catalan to a shopkeeper that doesn’t look like it owned the store for 30 years will probably grant you an expressionless stare at best and a “eh? como?” at worst.


I’m sorry to hear there’s tension around the America’s Cup. For what it’s worth, it does bring me happiness, although I will be watching it on TV, not being able to afford watching it in person in Barcelona (go figure)


To be fair is not America’s Cup fault, I just do not enjoy most sport events :laughing:


Me neither! Sailing is the exception

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Barcelona’s city governments, as a whole have done a lot within their constraints to make it a great city for residents. This includes recognizing and starting to take steps to limit all the shit that comes with over-tourism.
Its a shockingly compact, dense city; and tourists really overwhelm huge parts of it. I don’t generally have a problem with them, but I’m also not really interested in engaging either. I only fault those that come during peaks for choosing the time when they will have the most minimal degree of authenticity possible.


Why? Are you, like, from Mars or something?


To be clear, I didn’t feel threatened by the “tourist season” sign. It was clearly expressing exasperation.


I’m completely sympathetic to the frustration and the problems that come with overtourism, but damn the “tourist go home” thing just gets under my skin (I feel like carrying a marker around to add a “happy, with beautiful memories” to the graffiti). I think it’s both the part of me that wants to be welcoming to visitors by default and also just feels like attacking the wrong part of the problem (the visitors, instead of the system).

I mean, I completely agree that things are way out of balance (I live in Valencia, which is having its own problems with overtourism and affordable housing) - neighbourhoods with 10 or 25% of rentals being airbnbs is just crazy. So, I understand the frustration, and wanting to take action, but it still bugs me.

I hope the measures taken by the government eventually relieve some of the pressure (and are more widely adopted).

LOL. Seriously.


I lived in Valencia for a while, and my feeling is that Valencia is now more or less where Barcelona was about 15 years ago: starting to feel the pressure, specially in some neighborhoods, like el Cabanyal. I vaguely remember some kind of speculation back then, where they were going to torn out half the neighborhood to build tourist-oriented facilities -hotels, apartments, etc

2 million visitors for a city of 800k is a lot, but imagine if you received 5 times that amount! Like… can you imagine if you could not celebrate Fallas because it is now almost exclusive for the tourists (like 10 tourists for every valencian)? I don’k know if you like the celebration but I know some of my friends there would do more than squirt water on tourists :laughing:

Or basically… can you imagine enjoying a Valencia that would look like Benidorm?


Heh – yeah, I know Barcelona decently well (my son lives there now, and I half lived there for a bit) - and the tourism there is on another level, but I think it’s closing in pretty fast here, unfortunately.

Valencia has some advantages in geography (not hemmed in on one side by hills) and still has some room to expand, so it won’t ever get as densely packed as Barcelona at least.

But Fallas? I (and my already-neurotic dog) would be a lot happier if that was only one week a year (or every other year, hah), but take the good with the bad.


Yeah, I really struggle with that as well. Who wants to ruin someone’s vacation? Maybe the only one they have in years?

I’ve lived in Reykjavík before, which has its own tourist struggles and I now live in another popular tourist town. I’m often in a mood where they get on my nerves but I always stop myself and try to be nice to individual tourists, sometimes even offering to take photos and such. Because, as I said, what if this is something they have saved towards and looked forward to for years? They’re excited to be here, just as I am excited to be other places.

There are huge problems with mass tourism, but they need to be solved on a government level, we can’t just appeal to individuals’ feelings of responsibility (cf. also climate change). Because what you get then is that the responsible people stay away and you have a city of irresponsible tourists. Regulations on cruise ships and Airbnb, etc. are what curbs overtourism, not being rude to people.

That said, I also understand the exasperation people feel with overcrowding and having their city change to accommodate short-term visitors over residents.


I wonder if adopting Copenhagen’s approach to tourism might help citizens of Barcelona see tourists in a more positive light.


I would love something like this but really the only solution we have right now is to dramatically curb the number of tourists that visit our city daily. Ideally to about half of what we are receiving now, but that’s a pipe dream.

The reality is that thanks to our public transportation and the compact layout of our city, most tourists already use metro and bus to move around, and because the lower half of the city is quite flat, they are also adept at using bicycles. Many hotels rent or offer as a convenience bicycles to move around: they are easy to identify as they tend to be a couple specific models and usually have some branding of the hotel so they are easy to return if “misplaced”.

In fact, the bicycles is one of the points of contention as many cyclists ignore traffic and civic rules and cause issues for others. This also applies to non-tourists ones, but usually the locals at least know that if a vehicle with a siren passes by, they need to stop and yield! :confused:

The problem is that the sheer amount of extra people using the public transports of Barcelona severely strains the network. In the Touron thread I already commented that the city council had to hide one line from the search engine because tourists were using it to go to Güell park and leaving the old people for whom the line was created in the lurch. And while this line was a special case (used small buses because is a special line meant to go through small streets), the truth is the rest of the transport goes equally bad on summer.


Oh how fun!

I bet there are tours where you can film yourself getting protested! If it comes with patatas bravas and sangria, sigh me up!!

@adamrice That sign sounds totally instagram-worthy!!


ETA: “sigh” is a typo, obviously, but also captures the reality of my experience as I typed, so I leave it.


Manhattan (which has been completely Disney-fied) has roughly 65 million visitors annually and is only 22 square miles. We don’t harass tourists. We complain about their bad tips and their oblivious nature as they stand at the bottom of a busy subway staircase, but we’ll always take your money with a smile.

If you want to be pissed at idiots bathing in some fountains, fine. Attacking people minding their own business? Completely misdirected.

Barcelona houses one of Europes most highly regarded teams. What do people expect?

It’s not a contest, yo.


62 million visitors is for the whole of new york which is 472 sq m, not 22 sq m.

You will argue “yeah, but most of them concentrate on manhattan”. And most of the tourist in barcelona concentrate in the old quarter, which is about 2 sq m.

Tell me again when you reach… does some off the cuff calculations 744 million annual visitors, and then you tell me if you would still be happy with the situation.