Anti-tourism protesters target diners with water guns in Barcelona

Protesters have targeted tourists with water guns in Barcelona as part of mass demonstrations over the number of visitors to the Spanish city.

Pictures showed people marching down the streets and remonstrating with diners sitting outside restaurants.

Weapons filled with water were fired at people who the protesters believed were visiting the city.

Guests were also prevented from leaving their hotels when campaigners taped up exits.

Thousands of people were said to have taken part in the rally against mass tourism - the Catalan capital received more than 12 million tourists in 2023 and expects more in 2024.

Tension has been mounting over the rising cost of housing and rents in Spain, and the cost of goods in the shops, with many blaming the trends on increasing tourism.

There has also been anger directed at tourists amid water shortages in Spain due to the growing impact of climate change.

The latest rally comes amid a summer of protests across Spain and its regions, including when thousands took to the streets in the Balearic Islands to protest against mass tourism and overcrowding.

Demonstrators marched through Menorca and Majorca demanding tourism is controlled and made "more sustainable".

Last week, Spain's government announced a crackdown on short-term and seasonal holiday lettings amid rising anger from locals who feel priced out of the housing market.

The government said it will investigate listings on platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com to verify if they have licences, consumer rights minister Pablo Bustinduy said.

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Rents rose by an average of 13% in June compared to a year earlier and by 18% in tourist cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, according to the property website Idealista.

Barcelona's mayor, Jaume Collboni, has also announced plans to phase out all short-term lets in the city by 2028.

Tourism apartment owners have criticised the proposals, while Spain's Constitutional Court is deliberating whether the move is legal.

There has been growing concern over the impact of tourism on water resources, with many parts of Spain continuing to struggle with drought conditions and facing restrictions on the use of water.

Heatwaves have brought increasing challenges across southern Europe - on the Italian island of Sicily, hotels have reportedly been forced to turn away guests because they cannot guarantee enough water for showers or to flush toilets.