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The Protest in Spain’s Canary Islands Over Mass Tourism

  • April 26, 2024
  • 3 min read
The Protest in Spain’s Canary Islands Over Mass Tourism

In the picturesque Canary Islands, a massive wave of protests is sweeping across the archipelago as tens of thousands of residents take a stand against the prevailing tourism model. Calling for urgent action under the rallying cry “Canarias tiene un límite” (The Canaries have a limit), these protests spotlight deep-seated concerns over unsustainable tourism practices that locals say are eroding their quality of life and natural resources.

This movement, gaining momentum and support from global environmental groups, is not just a local issue but a bellwether for global tourism sustainability challenges. As the Canary Islanders make their voices heard, they’re pushing for a radical rethink of tourism that balances economic benefits with environmental and social welfare.

The Facts

These are the key facts surrounding the whole protests:

Protest Participation

Tens of thousands of people across the Canary Islands protested against the current tourism model, which they argue has made life unaffordable and environmentally unsustainable for residents. Organizers reported that around 50,000 people participated, while police estimates were about 20,000.

Environmental Impact

The protesters, supported by environmental groups like Greenpeace and WWF, are calling for an urgent reevaluation of the tourism strategy to prevent further environmental degradation and to address resource scarcity exacerbated by tourism.
Economic Dependency on Tourism: Tourism is a major economic driver in the Canary Islands, accounting for approximately 35% of the region’s GDP and generating €16.9 billion in 2022. Despite its economic benefits, locals express concerns over its impact on their quality of life and the environment.

Social and Economic Challenges

High levels of poverty and social exclusion are prevalent in the region, with 33.8% of the Canary Islands’ population at risk. This situation is aggravated by the high cost of living and low wages in tourism-dependent jobs.

Climate and Water Crisis

The Canary Islands face severe water shortages, attributed to a combination of over-tourism and climatic changes, including dry winters. A water emergency has already been declared on Tenerife, one of the islands.

Housing Crisis

The influx of tourists has driven up rental prices, making housing unaffordable for many locals. Some residents, including those employed in the tourism sector, are forced to live in substandard conditions due to the high cost of living.

Call for Tourism Moratorium

Protesters are demanding a halt to new tourist developments and a comprehensive study to assess the sustainable tourist capacity of each island. They advocate for a model that focuses on degrowth in areas where over-tourism is prevalent to preserve natural resources.

Global Implications

The movement emphasizes that rethinking the Canary Islands’ tourism model could serve as a global example of sustainable tourism development, potentially transforming the archipelago’s international reputation.

Government Response

The regional government acknowledges the need to revise the tourism model. The regional president stated that current policies are under review to address the issues presented by the current model.

Wider Context

Over-tourism is an issue affecting various Spanish locales, prompting actions like potential charges for visitors to historical sites in other regions, reflecting a broader national concern about the sustainability of tourism practices.

About Author

GreetingsFromAbroad

GreetingsfromAbroad.com is a travel blog founded by keen traveler, writer and experienced digital nomad, Kojo Enoch. Currently Kojo lives on the beautiful, sunny island of Malta. This website is run by a solid team of expert digital nomads,  avid travelers, photographers and writers from all over the world.

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