Thousands Protest in Canary Islands Over Too Many Tourists

Over the weekend, thousands of locals took to the streets of Tenerife, the largest of the popular Canary Islands in Spain, to protest the arrival of tourists. Locals are hoping to pressure their government to limit the arrival of tourists to the islands. Only about 2.2 million people live on the islands full-time. The area, however, was visited by over 14 million tourists in 2023. It’s becoming a more popular destination with travelers from across the globe. Those 14 million travelers represented an increase of over 13% compared to the number of people who visited the island in 2022.

The complaint that locals are making is that over-tourism is causing housing prices to skyrocket on the islands. According to data, the number of beds available for holiday rentals has boomed in the last 12 months. 2023 only about 180,000 beds were available for travelers who wanted to visit the region. In this 2024 season, that number has gone up to 220,000. Developers are buying local homes and turning them into holiday rentals.

These developers have also secured the closure of different campsites across the islands, limiting the space for low-budget travelers. While these developments may seem like a good thing for the local economy from the outside looking in, it’s also driven the prices of goods and essentials up considerably. Some of these prices were already higher than what can be found in mainland Spain due to the logistics battle of getting things to the islands.

One of the locals interviewed by international reporters covering the protests mentioned that people don’t have an issue with the arrival of global travelers. They were protesting the tourism model that island authorities are seemingly facilitating. Another element that worries locals is the over reliance on tourism. As things stand, over 35% of the local GDP comes from tourism. In the eyes of the protesters, this is something that local authorities seem happy about. However, the increased cost of living is putting a strain on the local’s wallets.

The President of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, said in a recent press conference that he was proud that the islands were a leading tourist destination within Spain. In the same breath, though, he talked about new legislation his administration hopes to pass this year. The bill would limit a property owner’s ability to list homes as short-term rentals. Under the new bill, property owners would even have to seek permission from their neighbors to list their homes on a site like Airbnb. He also mentioned that something needed to be done to limit the presence of new hotels in the region. Otherwise, they would continue popping up all over the place.

This situation of over-tourism has angered locals in many destinations across the globe, particularly those who have been seeing a massive influx of travelers reaching their shores in the post-pandemic era. It’s a problem that Canary Island residents will seemingly have to contend with for years to come.

Mario Perez

Author: Mario Perez


Mario is a seasoned journalist who’s worked with multiple publications over the years. He has a passion for looking for that story within the story itself. When he’s not actively looking for breaking news, he enjoys playing and watching sports.

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