British Tourists Beware: Canary Island Residents Fight Overtourism

British Tourists Beware: Canary Island Residents Fight Overtourism

With increasing tourist numbers in Spain, the issue of overtourism is once again rearing its head. Residents across the Canary Islands are ready to protest and strike against overtourism, which is endangering their quality of life. 

Mass protests are planned for April 20, 2024 in five of the eight islands. Protest rallies will be held simultaneously in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and La Palma.

British holidaymakers visiting the Canary Islands for a mid-April break should be aware of protests and anti-tourist sentiment.

Advocates argue that the excessive number of visitors is negatively impacting the quality of life in this popular vacation destination. They demand for measures to control tourism growth, citing the negative impacts of excessive visitors on local infrastructure and community well-being.

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

The Spanish National Statistics Institute reports that Spain welcomed around 17 million British tourists last year. Among them, the Canary Islands drew the highest proportion, with 31 percent, followed by the Balearic Islands with 21 percent.

Similar concerns about overtourism are echoed in other parts of Spain, such as Barcelona and Ibiza, where residents are grappling with housing shortages and community disruptions caused by the influx of tourists and holiday rentals.

Housing Crisis 

Worries about overtourism extend beyond just these islands.

The “Airbnb effect” has wreaked havoc on residents in cities, especially in popular destinations. With properties being snapped up for short-term holiday rentals, the availability of long-term housing units has dwindled, resulting in a severe housing shortage and the disruption of local communities.

Stories abound now of workers in Tenerife sleeping rough in tents or even caves because they either can’t find or can’t afford to rent an apartment.

The local government acknowledges these concerns and is actively seeking solutions to address the issue without compromising tourist income. 

Proposals under discussion include limiting the issuing of short-term home rental licences, encouraging salary increases, and imposing entry fees on protected areas. However, whether these efforts will be effective in mitigating the mounting unhappiness is unknown.

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