Thousands protest overtourism in Spain’s Canary Islands | Tourism News

Protesters say mass tourism is overwhelming the Atlantic Islands.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Spain’s Canary Islands, demanding changes to the mass tourism model they say is overwhelming the Atlantic islands.

An estimated 57,000 people took part in the protests, which began at noon on Saturday (11pm Japan time), Spanish media reported, citing representatives of the islands’ central government.

Flag-waving crowds filled the streets of major cities on all seven of the archipelago’s islands, shouting and whistling while holding placards with slogans such as “The Canary Islands are not for sale!” Ta. “Tourism pauses.” and “Please respect my home.”

“This is not a message to tourists, but to tourism that does not benefit this land and needs to change,” one demonstrator told Reuters during a march in Tenerife’s capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This is a message for models.”

Smaller marches were held elsewhere in the island chain and in other Spanish cities, all organized by about two dozen environmental groups ahead of the peak summer holiday season.

The protest was called by around 20 social and environmental groups who say tourist overcrowding harms local residents and perpetuates an economic model that destroys the environment.

They want authorities to limit the number of visitors and propose an environmental tax to protect the environment, a moratorium on tourism and a crackdown on property sales to non-residents.

“Authorities must immediately stop this corrupt and destructive model that depletes resources and makes the economy more unstable. There are limits and people’s patience in the Canary Islands. [does]No,” Antonio Bron, one of the protest leaders, told Reuters.

A woman shouts next to a banner with the word “tourism” during a demonstration in the Canary Islands. [Borja Suarez/Reuters]

“I can’t keep my eyes off you”

The archipelago, with a population of 2.2 million, welcomed nearly 14 million foreign tourists in 2023, an increase of 13% from the previous year, according to official data.

Island authorities are concerned about the impact on local residents. A bill expected to be passed this year would tighten rules for short-term rentals after complaints from residents who were being priced out of the housing market.

Canary Islands President Fernando Clavijo said on Friday he was “proud” that the region is one of Spain’s top tourist destinations, but acknowledged further regulations were needed as the sector continues to grow. .

“We cannot continue to look the other way, otherwise hotels will continue to operate without any restrictions,” he told a press conference.

Anti-tourism protests have intensified in recent months across Spain, the world’s second-most visited country, as authorities seek to balance the interests of local residents and a lucrative sector that accounts for 12.8% of Spain’s economy.

Located off the northwest coast of Africa, the Canary Islands are known for their volcanic landscapes and year-round sunshine, and are visited by millions of tourists each year. Four out of ten residents are engaged in tourism, and this sector accounts for 36% of the island’s population. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Even before the coronavirus pandemic devastated the global travel industry in 2020, protests against overtourism were already on the rise in Spain, particularly in Barcelona.

Tourist numbers have soared since travel restrictions were lifted, with Spain welcoming a record 85.1 million tourists last year.

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