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Canaries Protest Tourist Takeover

As summer approaches, travellers planning to visit Spain, and in particular, the Canary Islands, should know that there’s a bit of a situation brewing regarding overtourism.

Starting on the 20th of April, locals across Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and La Palma are planning a series of protests in response to the pressures of the holiday season, and the impact it’s having on the lives of locals.

The islands are suffering due to the sheer amount of visitors every year. The surge in tourism has not only led to environmental  damage but has also hugely impacted the quality of life for many residents, due to the skyrocketing cost of living thanks to local short-term holiday rentals. Ivan Cerdeña Molina, of The Tenerife Friends of Nature Association (ATAN), says that there is an urgent need for change to prevent the island from social and environmental collapse.

The Canarian government is stuck between a rock and a hard place - after all, tourism is crucial to the economy of the islands, but isn’t sustainable. The upcoming protests are sparking a much-needed conversation about balancing the benefits of tourism with the health of the Canaries, and there are warnings from urban planning experts and environmental groups that without significant tourism management, the islands could hit breaking point.

So following all this, what do they intend to do? There have been suggestions of tourist tax, stricter regulations of visitor numbers, and some residents have more explicitly voiced their frustrations in support of complete anti-tourism. It's not just about making tourists pay more; it's about making sure the islands can handle the visitors without turning into a theme park.

If you’re heading to the Canary Islands this summer, make sure you bear in mind the local mood and ongoing debate. There are no imminent shutdowns or restrictions in place, but the protests should get you thinking about how you can be a more respectful traveller. Be considerate of the environment, support local businesses, and choose accommodations or activities which contribute to the community.

These islands are gorgeous and welcoming - but our version of paradise is also someone’s home. Treat them right so that they stay vibrant for years to come.

10th April 2024