Sunday, 21 April 2024 11:38

Thousands rally in Spain's Canary Islands against mass tourism Featured

Tens of thousands of people in Spain's Canary Islands have rallied against a model of mass tourism they say is overwhelming the Atlantic archipelago.

The protesters want limits on tourist numbers and curbs on what they describe as uncontrolled development harmful for the environment and residents.

They stress they are not against the tourism industry, which makes up 35% of the Canaries' economy.

In 2023, 13.9 million tourists visited the seven main islands.

That is about six times more than the islands' population of 2.2 million, official figures show.

The tourism industry also accounts for 40% of the archipelago's jobs.

The biggest markets for the islands are the UK and Germany, although they are also a popular destination for mainland Spaniards.

Tourists are attracted by the Canaries' beaches and ample sunshine all year round.

On Saturday, street protests were held across the archipelago.

In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital of the largest island, Tenerife, demonstrators held placards that read "Tourist - respect my land!" and "Canaries have a limit".

"The major problem is that it's the model of massive tourism that is intransigent in the island... [for] decades, and it's just destroying the island... and the life of the residents here," protester Lydia Morales told the BBC.

"We are feeling we're being pushed away, our priorities are not taken in consideration," she said, adding that politicians were "more focused" on building tourism complexes and hotels.

Street rallies also took place in parts of mainland Spain on Saturday.

The demonstrators say they want a sustainable model that factors in environmental impacts such as water shortages in a warming climate, and which puts less pressure on costs and housing.

In 2023, 34% of Canary Islanders were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, the second-highest figure in Spain after Andalusia, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE).

Last week, activists begun a hunger strike on Tenerife, in protest at what they see as the destructive growth of tourism on the Canary Islands.

Protesters are demanding a halt to the construction of a hotel and a beach resort in the south of the island. They also want a moratorium on all tourism development projects.


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