“We should all throw them to hell, and it’s best to close the borders! The English and the Germans are the worst, they’re making our lives hell here,” complains the woman in her eighties, who lives near Park Güell, with an angry face Barcelona laboriously dragging her shopping bags home.

Shortly before, she had insulted a group of young tourists who had not made room for her on the narrow sidewalk. In the café, an elderly gentleman agrees with the pensioner. As his friends jeer, he shouts: “I’ll spit on the rabble from my balcony.”

Not everyone is venting their anger quite so bluntly – but this summer it’s hard to find a local in Barcelona who isn’t fed up with the ever-growing tourist industry. The word “turismofobia” (tourism phobia) is making the rounds more and more in Spain – the most popular foreign travel destination for Germans. Not only in Barcelona and all of Catalonia, but also in Mallorca, in Galicia or on the Canary Islands, the rejection of mass tourism is becoming more and more open and sometimes even violent.

In many places there are protest demonstrations by local residents. But not only. You can also come up with spectacular actions. For example in Mallorca, where an activist group called Caterva on the east coast tried to scare foreign tourists away from the beaches in August by putting up deceptively real-looking signs that announced in English that swimming was forbidden or warned of “dangerous jellyfish” or falling rocks. All wrong and made up, of course. The group later explained that action must be taken against the “expropriation” of the beaches by holidaymakers.

Previously, in Barcelona, ​​residents of the El Carmel district, not far from Park Güell, had simply turned around the signs showing the way to the old bunkers on the Turó de la Rovira hill in order to mislead strangers. The viewpoint, which offers one of the best panoramic views of the city, had in recent years become a hotspot for sunset and picnic fans, but also for Tiktokers, Instagramers and drinking tourists, who gathered there in the evenings in their thousands to listen to loud DJ music . The media reported violent clashes between residents and tourists. Due to the increasing tensions, the city decided in May to close the facilities between 7:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. According to neighbors, however, the decision is constantly being disregarded.

Back to Park Güell. Although a visit to the unique creation of the Modernisme architect Antoni Gaudí has ​​been chargeable since 2013 and is not cheap at ten euros, it remains the most visited attraction in Barcelona alongside the Sagrada Familia Basilica. Carina lives just a few streets away with her adult son and says that “the chaos is getting worse.”

“It’s the noise, the dirt. But not just here. I’ve never seen the whole city so dirty. And then the bad behavior of the tourists. People are always sitting in front of our front door and blocking the way,” says the woman is currently on the way to work in the hospital with a motorcycle helmet on, the German Press Agency. Carina hopes for improvement. Unlike Sandra. The young jewel designer has thrown in the towel. She sells her house and moves away with her partner. Where? “I don’t know yet, maybe to a quiet beach. But now the whole city is suffering (from mass tourism), I think.”

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But nowhere in Barcelona is frustration as evident as in Vila de Gràcia. If you walk through the narrow streets of the artists’ quarter, you can now see them almost everywhere. The message: “TOURISTS GO HOME” is emblazoned in large letters on walls, garage doors, notice boards and monuments. The graffiti appear on almost every second street corner. “More than ever before,” the state TV broadcaster RTVE recently stated. Slogans against tourism can also be seen there on small yellow stickers and on large banners. A small radical minority, the uninitiated visitor might think. Not at all! “We all think alike,” assures Ester from the Verdi del Mig neighborhood association.

While the woman with short gray hair interrupts the preparations for the district festival to talk to the journalist, more and more people come together to vent their displeasure. “We can no longer dance in the street at the festival like we used to”, “Only English is spoken here” and “We are strangers in our own house”, among other things, can be heard. A young woman complains: “Many visitors get drunk and become abusive.” Almost every second, tourists walk past the excited group without realizing that they are the subject of the heated conversation.

In Barcelona, ​​but even in Santiago de Compostela, the destination of the supposedly pious pilgrims in Galicia, complaints are piling up about visitors who not only roam the streets drunk and bawling in the best Ballermann style until early in the morning, but also sleep outdoors and to relieve themselves.

Politics and business are aware of the dimensions of the problem and do not downplay it – even if opinions differ regarding reasons and solutions. “The tourism phobia in the Canary Islands is slowly becoming worrying,” said the new regional tourism minister Jessica de León recently. But the polemics are also fueled by interested parties, she claims. The city councilor Jordi Valls, who is responsible for economic development in Barcelona, ​​bluntly admitted in an interview with the newspaper “La Vanguardia”: “Is there a limit for tourism in Barcelona? Yes, there is. Have we reached this limit? Probably.”

One thing is certain: the situation will not improve on its own. According to estimates by the responsible authorities, Spain is facing a new record year this year with more foreign visitors than ever before. 85 million are expected – 1.3 million above the peak recorded before the pandemic broke out in 2019. The sector accounts for twelve percent of the gross domestic product in Spain, and even around a third in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.

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Even those who benefit from the high numbers cannot close their eyes to reality. Above all, the president of the hoteliers’ association of Playa de Palma on Mallorca speaks plainly with the famous baller, Pedro Marín: “It is not acceptable that the residents are afraid to go for a walk here,” Marín told the newspaper “Última Hora”. “This summer there were rapes, stabbings, thefts, drugs… a disaster.” The hotelier assures that he and his colleagues are trying to attract “reasonably good tourists” to the island. But more police and more “hard hands” are also needed. The angry pensioner from Park Güell will surely agree with him.