Canary Islands protest against over-tourism, housing concerns

(MENAFN) In a significant display of discontent, tens of thousands took to the streets of Spain's Canary Islands on Saturday to protest what they perceive as an overwhelming influx of tourism that is reshaping the archipelago's landscape. The demonstrators voiced concerns over the proliferation of short-term holiday rentals and the rapid expansion of hotel construction, which they argue is driving up housing costs for local residents.

Estimates of the protest's scale varied, with police reporting a turnout of 20,000 participants, while organizers claimed a higher figure of 50,000. Banners adorned with slogans such as "The Canary Islands are not for sale" and "Yes to stopping tourism" reflected the demonstrators' frustration with the current trajectory of tourism development, as well as their desire to preserve the unique character of their communities.

Organized by approximately 20 social and environmental groups, the protest aimed to draw attention to the perceived negative impacts of the existing economic model on both the local population and the environment. Advocates called on authorities to implement measures to curtail the number of tourists and address the associated challenges.

Participants emphasized that their objections were not directed against tourism itself but rather against the unchecked expansion of the industry. They underscored the need for a shift in the current tourism model to one that prioritizes sustainability and respects the needs and concerns of local residents.

Among the demonstrators' key demands is the cessation of construction activities for two new hotels on Tenerife, the largest and most developed island in the archipelago. Additionally, protesters called for greater community involvement in decision-making processes related to tourism development, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that residents have a voice in shaping their own communities.

Nieves Rodriguez Rivera, a 59-year-old teacher who participated in the protest, expressed frustration over issues such as overpopulation and the displacement of local residents due to land purchases by wealthy foreigners. Rivera's sentiments echoed the broader sentiment among protesters, who seek to reclaim agency over their communities and advocate for a more equitable and sustainable approach to tourism development in the Canary Islands.



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