Thousands protest in Spain's Canary Islands over mass tourism

Thousands protest in Spain's Canary Islands over mass tourism

Thousands of people protested in Tenerife on Saturday calling for the Spanish island to temporarily limit tourist arrivals.

Holding placards reading "People live here" and "We don't want to see our island die", they're urging for a stem to short-term holiday rentals and hotel construction which are driving up housing costs for locals.

The protesters are being backed by environmental groups including Greenpeace, WWF, Ecologists in Action, Friends of the Earth and SEO/Birdlife.

"We are not against tourism, we are against a model that has led us to the deterioration of our land, of our people because the profits and growth of tourism are not reflected in society," said Rosario Correa, Secretary of the 'Salvar Chira-Soria' platform.

Eleven individuals from Canarias se Agota have been fasting for a week in objection to the erection of two expansive luxury projects in southern Tenerife, which they deem unlawful and entirely superfluous.

According to the police, approximately 20 thousand people participated in the protests, yet organisers claimed the number to be nearer to 50 thousand as reported by Spain’s TVE public television.

Rosario Correo, one of the demonstrators, told TVE, “Our stance isn't anti-tourism. We simply advocate for a shift from this framework that permits boundless expansion of tourism.”

Demonstrators also assembled in Madrid and Barcelona to express solidarity with the protests in the Canary Islands.

In 2023 the islands welcomed 13.9 million visitors, while their resident population stands at 2.2 million. Tourism contributes approximately 35 per cent to the archipelago’s GDP, generating €16.9bn in 2022 alone.

However, locals argue that the industry is depleting natural resources and driving up rental prices, making them increasingly unaffordable.

Data from Spain’s National Statistics Institute reveal that 33.8 per cent of individuals in the Canaries face poverty or social exclusion, marking the highest proportion compared to any region except Andalucía.