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The five Canary Islands where locals will take to the streets to demand ‘no more tourists’ | World | News

Locals in the Canary Islands are preparing to take to the streets on April 20th in protests against mass tourism. Protest rallies will be held simultaneously in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and La Palma.

Under the slogan “The Canary Islands have a limit”, the protestors will demand a rethink of economic policy as frustrations over a “failed tourism and land management model” boil over.

Organisers insist that the protests have nothing to do with so-called “tourismophobia”, but say the current tourism model is unsustainable.

Jaime Coello, president of one of the organisations behind the protests – the Telesforo Bravo Foundation, said the current system based on “mass tourism and the occupation of every inch of land” leads to “many environmental problems that are causing terrestrial and marine ecosystems to collapse” and which generate “very important social problems.”

He highlighted the negative impact on the day-to-day lives of locals, citing traffic problems and a lack of affordable housing.

In addition the influx in tourist numbers was putting pressure on public health and education systems that was leading to a deterioration in the quality of life for the islanders.

Last year the Canary Islands smashed all previous records for international tourist arrivals.

In total 14.1 million foreign passengers jetted out to the sunny islands, over a third of whom (5.7 million) were Brits. The number represents a 2 million increase on the year 2022.

Foreign tourists also spent over 20.3 billion euros in the region in 2023 and tourism’s direct and indirect contribution to the Canary Islands’ GDP stands at around 35 percent.

Business leaders have expressed concerns that the demonstrations will deter people from visiting the islands.

Gabriel Wolgeschaffe, a vice president of Ashotel, warned demonstrators that they should not “bite the hand that feeds you!”.

The president of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, called for “common sense”, adding: “Tourism is our main source of wealth, and I believe that those who come to enjoy, spend a few days, and leave their money in the Canary Islands should not be harassed.”

Víctor Martín, a professor at the University of La Laguna, blamed both the government and business investors for the current problems and accused them of trying to scare people through their references to “tourismophobia”.

“The quality of the tourist product is being destroyed by the investors themselves and the regional government,” he said.

Visitors to the islands were unable to enjoy the landscapes due to overcrowding and could see the destruction to the local environment, he added.

The professor believes it is necessary to put a brake on tourism growth and to diversify the economy.

He pointed out that there were both resources and qualified personnel in the archipelago to develop sectors such as agriculture and agro-industry, as well as other industries which are currently absent from the islands.


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