Tens of thousands march on Tenerife in tourism protest

Thousands protest in Tenerife over 'unsustainable' tourism
Thousands protest in Tenerife over 'unsustainable' tourism -Credit:Anadolu via Getty Images

Protesters poured onto the streets of Tenerife over concerns "every nook and cranny" of the Canary Islands has been taken by tourism. At least 50,000 people took part in a demonstration yesterday (April 20) in Tenerife's capital, Santa Cruz.

Locals say they are being priced out of life on the island, with "unsustainable" levels of tourism driving up living costs and harming the environment. Campaigners want to see a temporary limit to the number of tourists visiting Tenerife, the Mirror reports.

A large police presence watched on as the protest took place peacefully. The phrase CanariasTieneUneLimit - meaning 'the Canary Islands have a limit' - was seen on many placards.

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Clips of thousands of protestors chanting "si vivimos del turismo por que no somos ricos?" (if we are living from tourism then why are we not rich?) were also shared online. Tenerife is one of the most popular destinations in Spain for tourists with more than 5.8million foreign and domestic visitors heading to the island in 2022.

Overall, the Canary Islands, which has a population of about 2.2 million, welcomed more than 12 million visitors in 2022. According to research by the Spanish financial services company CaixaBank, the Canary Islands is highly dependent on the tourism industry.

It added in 2023 foreign tourists spent more than £17.4 billion in the region, which accounted for about 19 per cent of their total spending throughout Spain and contributed some 25 per cent to the Canary Islands' GDP. But some locals say tourism has had a negative effect on the island's environment and sent housing costs spiralling out of control.

Locals involved in the protest told Express.co.uk "every nook and cranny" on the island had been taken up by hotels or holiday homes for tourists. Jamie Quintero, 21, an activist who took to the streets insisted they were not against tourism as a whole.

He told the outlet: "We are not against tourism, but every nook and cranny is being taken over. We want to change it to make it more sustainable. When I visit beaches they are filled with rubbish it makes me sad.

"We want to address the misconception that we don't want tourists. We are here to change tourism. This island is beautiful and if we don't protect it there will be nothing for the tourists to see."

But Fernando Clavijo, the Canary Islands president, hit out at protests adding their argument "smacks of tourist-phobia". The Mirror found his most recent posts on X, formerly Twitter, had been bombarded with negative comments and memes from people who are supportive of the protestors' cause.

On Friday, he did comment that he felt "proud" the island was a top tourist destination, but acknowledged more controls were needed as the industry grows. "We can't keep looking away. Otherwise, hotels will continue to open without any control," he told a press conference.

Today's protest follows instances of anti-tourist graffiti being spotted on the island, while some activists previously went on hunger strike over the tourism industry on the island.