Canary Islands hit by protests as UK holidaymakers face 'do not enter' signs

A beach in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands where protests are mounting against what locals say is excessive tourism
A beach in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands where protests are mounting against what locals say is excessive tourism. The latest demonstrations are taking place on April 20 -Credit:Getty Images/iStockphoto

UK holidaymakers are facing Canary Islands 'do not enter' signs to turn them away as demonstrations are held by fed-up residents. Canarias Se Agota (translating as Canaries Sold Out) is holding new protests on April 20 in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and La Palma.

Campaigners say mass tourism is ruining the islands. Unofficial signs warning 'Do Not Enter - this area is closed for tourist overcrowding' have been put up in Lanzarote where locals have chained off access routes. Elsewhere there is graffiti reading 'My Misery, Your Paradise’ and 'Tourist Go Home.'

One of the protest organisers told news outlet The Olive Press that some local people are being forced to sleep in their cars and even caves as all the housing gets snapped up by tourism operators.


"We have nothing against individual tourists but the industry is growing and growing and using up so many resources and the island cannot cope," he said. "Airbnb and are like a cancer that is consuming the island bit by bit."

One woman, a British expat who lives on Gran Canaria, said: "We cannot forget that we are islands and therefore, have limited capacity in terms of space and infrastructure. Last year, 16 million tourists visited the islands, compared with only two million local residents. Accommodating this amount of tourists has required a huge number of construction projects and places a massive strain on the environment and limited resources of the islands.

"Unfortunately, the damage done by the current model cannot be reversed, but we can make a change going forward and stop more planned mega-projects, most of them illegal, from being built. Contrary to popular belief, the current tourism model does not help the local population."

Hunger strikes are being held in Tenerife in a bid to halt two new hotel developments. Authorities had stopped work on Hotel La Tejita and Cuna del Alma in Puertito de Adeje because of breaches of environmental regulations but the construction is now underway again.