EntertainmentCanary Islands erupt in protests over tourism's toll on paradise

Canary Islands erupt in protests over tourism's toll on paradise

In the Canary Islands, mass protests of the local community took place.
In the Canary Islands, mass protests of the local community took place.
Images source: © @tiempodecanarias.com

2:03 PM EDT, April 22, 2024

Massive demonstrations have been held in Tenerife and other Canary Islands against the current tourism model in the region. The residents are calling for a model that is fairer and less harmful to the Canaries.

On Saturday, April 20, tens of thousands of Tenerife residents and protests on other islands such as Lanzarote and Gran Canaria voiced their concerns about the destructive tourism model. Notably, the Canary Islands are an autonomous community of Spain.

Canary Islands residents voice their protests against tourism

Protesters were heard chanting, "The Canary Islands are not for sale!" and "Respect my home," rallying under the "Canary Islands, seek moderation" banner. The spark for the demonstrations was a plan to construct a five-star hotel near Tenerife's last untouched beaches.

Demonstrators are pressing regional politicians for a tourism model shift and measures to shield the islands from mass tourism's adverse effects. They are expressing their frustrations over sea pollution, traffic jams, and the housing affordability crisis, exacerbated by the surge in vacation rentals akin to the Airbnb model.

What are the demands of the Canary Islands protesters?

Their demands extend to preserving natural spaces, imposing a tourism tax, and improving labor conditions for hotel cleaning personnel, who marched in Santa Cruz claiming, "We are not slaves." According to recent figures, the Canary Islands, home to 2.2 million people, welcomed nearly 14 million foreign tourists in 2023, marking a 13 percent increase from the previous year. A poignant banner highlighted, "14 million tourists a year, but 36 percent of Canarians at risk of poverty."

Before the protests commenced, a representative from the Canarias Se Agota (The Canary Islands Are Exhausted) campaign, whose members had been on a hunger strike since April 10, spoke out. The spokesperson emphasized, "We must remember those risking their lives for our land. Their resolve, bravery, and sacrifices show that this fight is by and for everyone." He stated, "Today, the Canary Islands raise their voice in protest; tomorrow, they will persist."

The Canary Islands' Tourism Minister, Jessica de Leon, has urged tourists not to cancel their plans because of the protests. Meanwhile, the region's president, Fernando Clavijo initially feared the impact on tourism but later viewed the April 20 demonstrations as a chance to "rethink" the prevailing tourism model.

Source: metro.co.uk

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