Canary Islands beg Brits to keep visiting amid anti-tourist protests

People march during a mass demonstration against over tourism, which affects the local population with inaccessible housing, among other things, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Saturday, April 20, 2024. The protests are taking place this Saturday in various Canary Islands. (AP Photo/Miguel Velasco Almendral)

Lanzarote and Tenerife have made a plea to UK tourists to visit amid fears of mass holiday cancellations after anti-tourist protests. Regional tourism chief Jessica de Leon insists that tourists are still welcome on the Islands ahead of planned protests today.

"It is still safe to visit the Canary Islands, and we are delighted to welcome you," she told The Telegraph. She added that she understands the frustration, but it was "unfair to blame tourism". Fernando Clavijo, the Canary Islands president echoed Leon saying that some activists "smack of tourist-phobia".

"People who come here to visit and spend their money must not be criticised or insulted. We are playing with our main source of income," Clavijo said. Gabriel Gonzalez, a councillor for the hard-Left Podemos party in Tenerife's resort town of Adeje, hit back: "We have the feeling that we are not living off tourism; it is tourism that is living off us."

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Nestor Marrero, secretary of a Tenerife ecology group called ATAN added: "The number of tourists should be reduced. We should aim for higher-quality visitors, not people in all-included resorts who don't leave the hotel or interact with locals and our culture in any way," reports Birmingham Live.

In the previous year, the islands welcomed 13.9 million people, despite a local population of only 2.2 million. According to data from Spain's National Statistics Institute, in the Canary Islands, 33.8 per cent of the populace are at risk of poverty or social exclusion - the largest percentage for any region apart from Andalucia.

Clavijo addressed reporters this week, stating: "All the actions this government has taken have been based on a revision of this model" - adding: "The Canaries tourist model has been a successful one, but obviously, as with anything, there are things that could be perfected."

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