Protests Erupt in Spain’s Canary Islands Against Overwhelming Tourism Impact

Tenerife Residents Want The Government To Temporarily Limit Tourist Arrivals (Credits: AFP)

In a resounding display of discontent, thousands took to the streets of Tenerife on Saturday, demanding immediate action to address the adverse effects of mass tourism on the Spanish island.

The protesters called for temporary restrictions on tourist arrivals, citing concerns over skyrocketing housing costs driven by the proliferation of short-term holiday rentals and hotel construction.

Brandishing placards emblazoned with slogans like “People live here” and “We don’t want to see our island die,” demonstrators voiced their grievances against a tourism industry that currently comprises 35% of the Canary Islands’ gross domestic product (GDP).

While acknowledging the significance of tourism to the local economy, protesters emphasized the urgent need for a revised tourism model that prioritizes the well-being of residents and the preservation of the islands’ natural environment.

A Man Plays Instruments As He Displays A Sign

Residents Rally Against Tourism Surge, Advocating for Sustainable Solutions in the Canary Islands

Expressing solidarity with the cause, a protester highlighted that the message was not anti-tourist but aimed at reforming a tourism framework that fails to benefit the local community.

Similar demonstrations were held across the archipelago and in various Spanish cities, organized by approximately two dozen environmental organizations ahead of the impending summer holiday season.

The collective demands put forth by the organizations include temporary restrictions on visitor numbers to alleviate strain on the islands’ infrastructure, environment, and housing market, along with measures to regulate property purchases by foreign investors.

Protest leaders, echoing the sentiments of many residents, condemned the current tourism model as “corrupt and destructive,” emphasizing the urgent need for intervention to protect dwindling resources and stabilize the economy.

Concerns about the overwhelming influx of tourists were underscored by official statistics revealing a 13% increase in foreign visitors to the Canary Islands in 2023, totaling nearly 14 million.

A Woman Uses A Megaphone During A Demonstration For A Change In The Tourism Model

Acknowledging the pressing need for action, authorities have initiated discussions on a draft law aimed at tightening regulations on short-term rentals, responding to mounting complaints from residents facing housing affordability challenges.

Canary Islands president Fernando Clavijo acknowledged the importance of tourism to the region’s economy but emphasized the necessity of implementing stricter controls to manage the sector’s expansion responsibly.

Urging proactive measures, Clavijo cautioned against complacency, warning of the unchecked proliferation of hotels if adequate safeguards are not enforced.

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