Thousands are protesting against overtourism in Spain’s Canary Islands

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of the Canary Islands, protesting the pervasive impact of mass tourism on the archipelago, as reported by Al Jazeera.

The protests, which started at noon (1100 GMT) on Saturday, attracted around 57,000 participants, according to Spanish media, citing the central government’s representative on the islands.

Protesters on all seven islands carried banners and signs reading: ‘A moratorium on tourism’, ‘The Canary Islands are not for sale’ and ‘Respect my home’. These slogans highlighted widespread dissatisfaction with the current tourism model, which they say endangers both the local environment and the well-being of the community.

The call to action was initiated by about twenty social and environmental organizations. They propose several measures to curb the negative effects of tourism, including introducing an eco-tax, imposing a moratorium on new tourism developments and restricting the sale of properties to non-residents.

According to Al Jazeera, the Canary Islands, home to 2.2 million people, welcomed almost 14 million foreign visitors in 2023 – a 13 percent increase from the previous year. This surge in tourism has raised concerns among local authorities about its sustainability and impact on residents.

Fernando Clavijo, the President of the Canary Islands, expressed his pride in the fact that the islands are a leading Spanish travel destination. However, he acknowledged the need for further regulation to manage the fast-growing industry, demonstrating recognition of the challenges posed by the rapid growth of tourism.