Residents of the Canary Islands, a favorite destination for tourists from around the world, took to the streets to protest the tourism industry and demand a cap on the number of people allowed in. The demonstration gathered under the slogan The Canaries are agota, “the Canary Islands have a limit”, and has also received support from many environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, WWF, Ecologists in Action and Friends of the Earth. “We have reached the point where the balance between the use of resources and the well-being of the population here has broken down, especially in the last year,” he told the Guardian Víctor Martín, spokesperson for the collective Canary Islands if Agota. A week ago, eleven members of the group began a hunger strike to protest the construction of two large luxury hotels south of Tenerife, one of the eight islands that make up the archipelago.

The negative impact of tourism

The Canary Islands have around 2.2 million inhabitants and in 2023 experienced a tourist influx of 13.9 million people. The latest data, relating to 2022, indicate that tourism represents more than a third (35%) of the archipelago's GDP. Fundamental sector for the economy of the islands, there is no doubt about it. What residents contest are the negative effects that theon tourism what it entails, starting with the excessive exploitation of natural resources and the phenomenon of high rents. The Spanish National Institute of Statistics estimates that around a third of the Canarian population (33.8%) is at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This is the highest figure in all of Spain, just behind Andalusia.

Residents' requests

“The problem is not the tourists,” says Víctor Martín. “The problem – continues the spokesperson for the protest movement – ​​is a model built around and with the complicity of a business class that does not want to listen to what needs to be done, and with a political class that serves it. entrepreneurial class instead of serving all citizens. » In the short term, residents are firstly demanding a halt to the two luxury mega-tourist villages under construction in Tenerife. However, for the future it is a question of rethinking the development model of the archipelago, trying to balance tourism with attention to the needs of residents. “This overhaul of the tourism model could put the Canary Islands on the map as an example of sustainable tourism development,” explains Martín.

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