Urgent Events: Demonstrations over unsustainable tourism in the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands have seen a steep rise in the number of visitors post-pandemic. Over 14 million foreign tourists visited in 2023, more than the total of two much larger territories Brazil (6m) and Australia (7m). That’s a 24% rise in pre-Covid figures, and 2024 figures look set to be even higher. Add to that another 2 million Spanish national visitors.

The Canary Islands offer hugely advantageous terms to foreign investors, paying just 4% tax with free repatriation of profits. That means the majority of the income is funnelled abroad even as new hotels go up, landscapes cemented over, and limited resources squandered. The investment in luxury hotels is staggering: in 2023 the Canary Islands received €1.17 billion in hotel investment (the highest in Spain). But the wages paid are the lowest in Spain (just €1,200 per month on average) and rental prices are rocketing. One third of Canarians are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and many can’t afford a home despite having a job.

Tens of thousands of Canarian residents protested on the 20th of April to make their concerns heard. They want a new tourism model implemented that incorporates their concerns and protects their biodiverse paradise in the Atlantic. GeoTenerife compiles news resources and social media on this developing story below so that locals, students, researchers and journalists alike can access it openly.

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Research by Sergio P. Alfaya, GeoTenerife Collaborator, and Ajay Wynne Jones, VolcanoStories Content Coordinator

All imagery, photography, and text belong to the respective articles’ authors and photographers, click on each article to learn more.

Want to get involved in the conversation? Follow the hashtags below

Recent news

17- 05-2024

16- 05-2024

16- 05-2024

Read more about the demands of the organisations, the issues Canarian locals are concerned about,  demonstrations and protests, political responses, tourism stakeholder comments, and the international response to the 20A demonstration below:

What are the demands of the 20A organisations?

The Canarias Palante participatory process is a coalition of 75 organizations and foundations from across the Canary Islands. They are requesting that a representative of the Canarias Palante be allowed to participate in future negotiations with the relevant administrations about the tourism model of the island. This participation will help to ensure that the people’s desires are taken into account during the negotiations. Canariaspalante is a platform that allows the citizens of the Canary Islands to voice their opinions through an online form where the locals can suggest ideas that will be considered at the negotiation table.

Canarias Se Agota, is a collective which has been centred during the discussion of the 20A protests, Canarias Se Agota demonstrates and calls for action for “the Ecological and Social Regeneration of the Archipelago”. The demands of the movement are:

Foundations across the Canary Islands have joined to form SOS Canarias and to publish an open draft proposal for policy action, with the aims of protecting the natural heritage of the islands, increasing the archipelago’s sovereignty, and improving the quality of life of the residents. Access the original document and translated English document below.

What are locals concerned about?

Below is a timeline of articles and social media posts demonstrating residents’ and locals’ concerns regarding unsustainable tourism in the archipelago.

15- 05-2024

13- 05-2024

13- 05-2024

11- 05-2024

Some 4.2 million passengers arrived at the Canary Islands airports in April”

09- 05-2024

“#LaGomera : From today water consumption is limited to 150 liters per day in the municipality of Agulo”

09- 05-2024

09- 05-2024

09- 05-2024

“Controversial felling of trees in a hotel complex in the south of Gran Canaria The company claims that it had permission, although the San Bartolomé de Tirajana City Council denies it”

09- 05-2024

08- 05-2024

Mírame Noticias “Residents of several municipalities of Lanzarote again run out of water”

07- 05-2024

07- 05-2024

07- 05-2024

“Let’s give a thought to spending public money on campaigns to attract tourism now that we exceed 16 million visitors a year and we want to review the model. The Mayor of La Laguna: Wait, I am going to Abu Dhabi.”

06- 05-2024

“Influencers caught at a party inside a protected area in La Geria”

06- 05-2024

06- 05-2024

05- 05-2024

05- 05-2024

04- 05-2024

“Uncontrolled and invasion of visitors in the Maspalomas Dunes The natural space experienced a busy Friday with a massive influx of visitors whose actions disturbed both the experience of other people and the environment itself.”

04- 05-2024

03- 05-2024

03- 05-2024

03- 05-2024

“Spain achieves its best first quarter ever with 17% more foreign tourists.”

02- 05-2024

01- 05-2024

“FALSE ADVERTISING OF CUNA DEL ALMA. The company Segunda Casa AdejeS.L presents on its website its ECOCIDA project under a mask of sustainability, respect for nature and adorning with vain fallacies the aberration it is assuming, the stubbornness of carrying it forward a drastic change in the landscape, and the loss of an ecosystem rich in endemic species, affecting its life and development.”

01- 05-2024

“These are the 77 actions for the water emergency: none focused on limiting water to tourism. We are still waiting for the technical document to be published in the Official Gazette of the Canary Islands (BOC)”

01- 05-2024

01- 05-2024

30- 04-2024

30- 04-2024

28- 04-2024

Thread 1Why does #Canary Islands have one of the lowest incomes in all of #Spain? Canary Islands is among the CCAA with the lowest average income per family The main economic sector of the islands is tourism which generates 40% of employment and 39% of direct gdp #Canariasseagota

27- 04-2024

26- 04-2024

26- 04-2024

Don’t use water canary that the one from outside wants to play with it. are these people stupid? #CanariasTieneUnLimite.

26- 04-2024

Seriously they have the little shame to come out with this? People no longer believe the lies of Corrupción Canaria, they proved it last weekend. The compis on hunger strike…and you + lies #FueradelasInstitucionesYA #CanariasTieneUnLimite #CanariasSeAgota”

26- 04-2024

25- 04-2024

25- 04-2024

25- 04-2024

“In this video you can see how a worker steps on a protected species after being warned. The Canary Islands authorities continue to allow the destruction of our natural heritage”

25- 04-2024

“”We’ll throw you off the cliff!” 25-4-2024. Puertito de Adeje. One more day of nonsense at all levels in Cuna del Alma.”

24- 04-2024

“Thanks Oscar! We want to express our deepest gratitude for your brave act of protest in the form of a hunger strike. Your personal sacrifice has been a source of inspiration to us all, and has served to highlight the importance of protecting our land and our people.”

24- 04-2024

“SUPPORT IS NEEDED 👉🏼GO TO THE PORT OF ADEJE, every day until this Ecocide is definitively paralyzed and the aberrant fence that destroys the landscape of this area, declared of scientific interest, is removed.”

24- 04-2024

“The result of the irresponsibility and incompetence of the president of the Government of the Canary Islands@fclavijobatlleTo solve the problems of its mass tourism model, it occupies the national media.
Excellent interview with one of the people on hunger strike@canariaseagota @roberto_canariasIn the middle.
It cannot be explained more clearly.”

24- 04-2024

“In La Tejita, although the Director of Costas Canarias CONFIRMS that Viqueira cannot work in the DPMT, work continues. This impunity, disregard for the laws and looking the other way from @PresiCan , @granadillaabona and other administrations has to end. Paralysis now!”

24- 04-2024

23- 04-2024

23- 04-2024

22- 04-2024

“Today in Puertito de Adeje, they are working in Tumba de Alma, on the vivorina that will not sprout again with the rains. And with our people on hunger strike and after the massive mobilization of #20A.”

21- 04-2024

19- 04-2024

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18- 04-2024

17- 04-2024

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19- 04-2024

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16-04-2024

15-04-2024

05-04-2024

21-02-2024

13- 05-2024

“Las Veronicas, Tenerife Every weekend ! Quality Tourism.”

How are locals demonstrating their concerns?

16- 05-2024

From the FCT we encourage to make ourselves visible, for a change of model and for the dignity of those who want to live in our land. Place your flag or poster on your balcony and join us this May 30. Because the Day of the Canary Islands is made by the Canarian people. #CanariasHasALimit”

15- 05-2024

CANARY ISLANDS PREPARES FOR A NEW RECORD OF TOURISTS (PRODUCING NEW SOUVENIRS
“I <3 TOURISMOPHOBIA” “CANARY ISLANDS SOLD OUT (but not their beer)” “THIS IS THE ONLY ‘ECOTAZA’ I HAVE SEEN”

14- 05-2024

“WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, IN THE PORT OF ADEJE (7:00 a.m.) We invite everyone who can to come to Puertito de Adeje this coming Wednesday. We are still waiting for the authorities to suspend these illegal fence erection works, which are being carried out”

https://x.com/FrancoiseDrapi1/status/1790165104983491062

14- 05-2024

“51% of the salary in the Canary Islands goes to rent
WHY DO THEY BITE ME? DO YOU HAVE PROBLEMS WITH THE FLOOR?
NO, SIR LANDLORD, WHAT WE HAVEmIS HUNGER”

https://x.com/Padylla/status/1790296254808768794

12- 05-2024

12- 05-2024

“HOW WEIRD EUROVISION IS THIS YEAR. THESE ARE THE COUNTRIES FROM WHICH BUY HOMES IN THE CANARY ISLANDS”

12- 05-2024

“The Cabildo will be at the side of the City Council (of Granadilla) in the decision it makes, helping it financially to rescue this protected natural space”

11- 05-2024

“Dozens of people protest in front of Loro Parque: “Enough of animal exploitation”

11- 05-2024

“HOW WEIRD EUROVISION IS THIS YEAR. THESE ARE THE COUNTRIES FROM WHICH BUY HOMES IN THE CANARY ISLANDS”

11- 05-2024

11- 05-2024

10- 05-2024

“we’ve been giving you a hostel takeover bid for decades and now you’re protesting?”

09- 05-2024

09- 05-2024

“the european commission reminds the canary islands of the colour criteria for limiting the purchase of housing by foreigners “

09- 05-2024

Paralysis of the tourist complex in El Puertito de Adeje petition reaches 40,000 signatures

Deny permits to build the ``Cuna del Alma`` tourism macro-project in the southwest of Tenerife (Canary Islands), given that it would threaten species and community habitats present on the land where the project intends to take place, as well as in the adjacent Special Conservation Area ( ZEC) ``Teno-Rasca Marine Strip``, therefore failing to comply with article 6.3 of Directive 92/43/EEC. (YouMoveEurope)

09- 05-2024

“our politicians are close to settling the issue that really worries canaries. the houses? no, the taxes, they only have to change one letter.”

08- 05-2024

08- 05-2024

“More dumping into the sea and more profits for hoteliers!!!! On May 14 Assembly in LA LAGUNA the church Concepción at 5 pm FOR #CANARIASSEAGOTA.”

08- 05-2024

07- 05-2024

“Beyond the mud”

06- 05-2024

The solution to tourism?

05- 05-2024

¿Y si Canarias fuera una madre?

04- 05-2024

“What if we buy all the tourist land that remains to be built on in the Canary Islands? There are alternatives for this. One of them is the Coastal Conservatory, already implemented in France and in process in Catalonia. I tell you about it in this video.”

04- 05-2024

“Aligned”

03- 05-2024

“Conference of Presidents of Cabildos”

02- 05-2024

“The new tourism model”

01- 05-2024

“The Canary Islands have a limit #1deMayO

01- 05-2024

The group of activists of the collective ‘Canarias se agotta’, who had been on hunger strike since April 11, decided to end their protest this Tuesday afternoon. #Canariasseagota #Tenerife

01- 05-2024

“Open letter sent to the press addressed to Ms. President of @CabildoTenerife”

01- 05-2024

01- 05-2024

01- 05-2024

01- 05-2024

The #20A movement evolves to concretize the change of model. Participate in #Canariaspalante.

30- 04-2024

“We invite you to attend the virtual Assembly to be held on May 6 at 19:00 Canary Islands time) to make known our situation and the intentions that we will carry out with the support of UGT and CCOO.”

30- 04-2024

Here is a different version of “La utopia en que vivimos” in support of all those people who are fighting to change things for the better.
Especially for the comrades who today have been on HUNGER STRIKE for 20 DAYS demanding a change of model for the Canary Islands.
THANK YOU ❤️ (Rupatrupa)

30- 04-2024

“Taking advantage of the celebration of the Conference of Presidents of #Canarias…. We have presented 47,665 signatures against #Ecocide in #LaPalma. We demand the Government to listen to the citizenship after the historic demonstration of 20A. “

30- 04-2024

“We invite you to attend the virtual Assembly to be held on May 6 at 19:00 Canary Islands time) to make known our situation and the intentions that we will carry out with the support of UGT and CCOO. “

30- 04-2024

Please ,everyone who can, come to Puertito de Adeje, help us to stop the ILLEGAL WORK #cunademafias #adeje #canariastieneunlímite.

30- 04-2024

30- 04-2024

“Situation in Puertito de Adeje and look at the attitude of the authorities who should be requesting permits and documentation, and if they do not have it, STOP AND SEAL THE WORK⚠️ the civil guard, the police and Seprona are supposed to have a ethical code.
THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO SEE THAT THE LAW IS COMPLIED WITH.”

30- 04-2024

“Activists are identified, criminals are protected. The people demand to be heard and the immediate halt of the ILLEGAL macro-projects Cuna del Alma and Hotel de La Tejita. The hunger strike continues, so does the Canarian Spring.”

29- 04-2024

29- 04-2024

29- 04-2024

29- 04-2024

28- 04-2024

27- 04-2024

” the same”

26- 04-2024

26- 04-2024

26- 04-2024

“”I threw a party in my house and it got out of hand”: the parallelism that explains the complaint of ‘Canarias tiene un límite’ with tourism. A TikTok user launches a video comparing the Canary Islands to a party that is saturated with people.”

26- 04-2024

25- 04-2024

“We keep saying loud and clear that #CanariasTieneUnLímite and that #CanariasSeAgota. Again almost a thousand people in La Laguna, peacefully but with the forcefulness that deserves the seriousness of the situation. If after this the Government of the Canary Islands still does not make a move I do not know anymore”

25- 04-2024

25- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

“” Roberto Mesa, activista en huelga de hambre:  “La situación en Canarias es muy extrema”  “Hablan de turismofobia, pero lo que queremos es un cambio de modelo, que sea sostenible, que beneficie a la población local y que no la perjudique”” 

24- 04-2024

‘”They are there to defend the economic interests of those who are using the islands for private business. And therefore they demonstrate that they are not representatives of the people, nor do they govern for the common benefit.

24- 04-2024

““Canarias tiene un límite “ que el VANDALISMO acaba de superar.”

24- 04-2024

“The Hotel de La Tejita being built without permission from Costas and Cuna del Alma caught ‘in fraganti’ putting up a fence without a license. But politicians and allies pronouncing themselves for a graffiti on the asphalt. F*ck”

24- 04-2024

“Infinite toletism or arrogance of the PP of Tenerife? A graffiti on the asphalt = illegal constructions + labor precariousness + housing problems + exhaustion of resources + a lot of other problems for the Canary Islands. “

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

“Activists have attracted criticism for demonstrating outside the home of the Canary Island President.”

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

Costas threatens to sanction the developer of the hotel in La Tejita if it does not stop the works in the public domain

The Head of the Provincial Coastal Service in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Jorge Miguel Ortega, has threatened to sanction the promoter of the hotel in La Tejita, the company Construction, Promotion and Derivados, SA, owned by businessman José Viqueira, if he does not stop the works in the maritime-terrestrial public domain. (Canarias Ahora)

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

22- 04-2024

22- 04-2024

“Last minute! The state of health of one of the participants in the hunger strike 12 days, has worsened. The severity has forced the intervention d an ambulance to provide assistance and transfer it to a hospital center A q esperas”

21-04-2024

“Their lives, their Health, their Bodies have put them to defend the Territory.”

20-04-2024

#CanariasTieneUnLímite from  Lanzarote”

20-04-2024

“Total overflow. Unprecedented success. Tens of thousands of people in the streets of the Canary Islands shouting loud and clear that the Canary Islands are not for sale, they love and defend themselves. These demonstrations will mark a before and after in the history of the archipelago.”

18-04-2024

18-04-2024

17-04-2024

17-04-2024

16-04-2024

11-04-2024

What have the political responses been?

17- 05-2024

15- 05-2024

14- 05-2024

13- 05-2024

09- 05-2024

09- 05-2024

09- 05-2024

09- 05-2024

The Las Teresitas improvement project includes infrastructure for the tram

The draft prepared to reform the capital's beach, led by Gestur, maintains that the future 5-star “city” hotel must have a maximum building size of 40,000 square meters and includes the provision of the necessary infrastructure to host the future Añaza-Las Teresitas tram line. The Santa Cruz City Council has repeatedly expressed this need, considering that the tram would reduce vehicle queues and improve traffic in Anaga. IDiario de Avisos)

09- 05-2024

08- 05-2024

The president of the Canary Islands now maintains that “it is time” to limit the purchase of housing by foreigners

The regional government commissions a study to assess the possibilities of this measure within the framework of the European Union. The President of the Government of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo (Canary Coalition), said this Tuesday that “it is time” to negotiate with the European Union the possibility of limiting the purchase of housing by foreigners in the Canary Islands. (Canarias Ahora)

08- 05-2024

08- 05-2024

08- 05-2024

07- 05-2024

“A plenary session of the Adeje City Council rejects a motion for the paralyzation of Cuna del Alma”

07- 05-2024

07- 05-2024

06- 05-2024

“Interview | @FClavijoBatlle warns that access to protected natural areas must be regulated. “The big problems of the Canary Islands are not going to be solved by either the unions or the businessmen; we have to do it together”

06- 05-2024

06- 05-2024

“New session of the parliamentary commission studying the demographic challenge in the Canary Islands”

04- 05-2024

“”Spoiled girl”: tension rises between CC and PSOE over hotel in La Tejita”

04- 05-2024

03- 05-2024

“Interview: “All this has to be planned because the territory of each island is limited and not everything fits”. Casimiro Curbelo, is president of the Cabildo of La Gomera.”

03- 05-2024

Clavijo charges against the mayor of Granadilla for La Tejita: “Canarias does not buy land to prevent a hotel from being built” #Tenerife #Canarias

03- 05-2024

“El alcalde de Adeje (PSOE) considera que Cuna del Alma es “un buen proyecto”, por lo que “tendrá que seguir adelante””

03- 05-2024

Clavijo denies that there is a file and budget to buy the land where the hotel is built on the beach of La Tejita. The mayoress of Granadilla did not attend the meeting convened by the president to address this project and that of Cuna del Alma. (EFE)

03- 05-2024

“Cuna del Alma and La Tejita, in Tenerife, are not paralyzed for the moment. The mayor of Adeje has assured this Friday that the tourist macro-project has all the permits in order ” `(RTVC)

03- 05-2024

BREAKING NEWS! The mayoress of Granadilla dissociates herself from the meeting to decide the future of La Tejita hotel.

02- 05-2024

The mayoress of Granadilla plants Clavijo and asks Dávila to invest half of the money from the Motor Circuit to buy the site of the hotel in La Tejita.

02- 05-2024

02- 05-2024

Tomorrow Friday is scheduled the meeting between Canary Islands government, @CabildoTenerife and the mayors of Granadilla and Adeje where the licenses were granted to build two controversial projects, #CunadelAlma and #LaTejita.

02- 05-2024

01- 05-2024

Mogán goes ahead and will approve its own tourist tax before the end of the year despite the employers' association

The Gran Canarian tourist municipality in the south of Gran Canaria led by Mayor Onalia Bueno will be the first in the Canary Islands to approve a tourist tax, Mayor Onalia Bueno reveals in La SER that they are finalizing the study that will lead to the approval of the first tourist tax for overnight stays in the Canary Islands.

30- 04-2024

30- 04-2024

30- 04-2024

30- 04-2024

29- 04-2024

26- 04-2024

We approve the implementation of the eco-tax for our protected natural areas. A tax of a finalist nature and 100% tax relief for residents that will be destined exclusively to the protection and conservation of these spaces. Together with this eco-tax we will promote other measures such as the control and limitation of access according to the carrying capacity. It will be applied as of January 1, 2025. An unprecedented measure that makes Tenerife a more sustainable and environmentally responsible space.

26- 04-2024

26- 04-2024

“Valbuena: “The 20A is the reaction of the citizenship against the setback that the Canary Islands are currently experiencing”. That’s what they say from the PSOE. As if people were not equally tired of the Government of flowers. The worst thing about 20-A are the political parties trying to get a piece of the action.”

25- 04-2024

25- 04-2024

“The conflict over the construction of the Hotel de La Tejita continues. The Provincial Coastal Service of Santa Cruz de #Tenerife has ordered the stoppage of the works in the area and the developer defends its legality.”

25- 04-2024

The focus of debate at the ‘Futurism’ Congress, in Tenerife, has been on #VacationHousing. The hotel sector calls for its regulation

25- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

The former president of Socialist Youth defends that the island “continues to be the containment dam against mass tourism”

In recent statements to the La Palma Opina forum, and in his capacity as president of the Socialist Youth of La Palma, a position from which he was dismissed a few days after his intervention in said communication initiative, Andrés Paz Pais assured that the Dichosa Wellness Clinic tourism project “It is not going to be built,” remembering that “every project needs an environmental impact report and I doubt that the Dichosa Wellness Clinic is going to get it.” (THE LA PALMA NEWSPAPER).

23- 04-2024

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Tourism stakeholder comments

15- 05-2024

15- 05-2024

28- 04-2024

26- 04-2024

25- 04-2024

“The anger of the president of @Ashotel for criticism of the tourism model: “There is too much population in the Canary Islands for the infrastructure we have”.”

25- 04-2024

24- 04-2024

19-04-2024

17-04-2024

15-04-2024

13-04-2024

25- 01-2024

“The president of @Ashotel , Jorge Marichal, considers that the request of Fernando Clavijo to employers to increase wages to find workers is not aimed at his sector. He stresses that the agreements signed with unions must be respected.”

05- 04-2021

What was the international response?

15- 05-2024

30- 04-2024

“Our support and solidarity with the comrades from the Canary Islands who have been on hunger strike for 20 days, today we held a vigil in Malaga”

29- 04-2024

27- 04-2024

'My misery, your paradise': The problem with tourism in the Canary Islands

If you're looking for what's behind the wave of protests, you need to look back decades, Sharon Backhouse tells Sky News. Along with her Canarian husband, she owns GeoTenerife, which runs science field trips and training camps in the Canary Islands and conducts research into sustainable tourism. ``It is absurd to have a system where so much money is in the hands of a very few extremely powerful groups, and is then funnelled away from the Canary Islands,``. (Sky News)

27- 04-2024

“It’s not just a local thing. Global tourism is unsustainable. The Canary Islands suffer from it. Balearic Islands and the Mediterranean coast too.”

24- 04-2024

23- 04-2024

22- 04-2024

22- 04-2024

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20-04-2024

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20-04-2024

20-04-2024

“Ambush in the ravine of Puerta del Sol in Madrid #CanariasTieneUnLímite.”

20-04-2024

Protestors in London join in support of the Canary islands.

20-04-2024

From Barcelona we also shout that #CanariasTieneUnLímite.

19-04-2024

19-04-2024

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17-04-2024

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GeoTenerife's comments

Press releases, interviews, articles, and our research into sustainable tourism.

We ran a campaign in major news outlets in the UK to improve the visibility of the fight for sustainable tourism gaining almost 100,000 views.

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GeoTenerife, interviewed by ITV, about the Cuna del Alma project. This video is a part of GeoTenerife’s Sustainable Tourism project.

Our press release giving context in advance of the 20A demonstrations was distributed to 271 international media outlets on 18 April. These were the top viewers in the first 24 hours.

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Director of GeoTenerife, Sharon Backhouse, gives context to ‘anti-tourism’ protests taking place in the Canary Islands on GBNews.

Plunder for profit

Canarians are taking to the streets on 20 April to protest against a model of tourism that impoverishes them and their islands. This is not a “War on Tourism” - the Canary Islands cannot survive without tourism and they have been warmly welcoming tourists for decades and will continue to do so. But with most of the multi-billion euro profits being drained right off the islands and a third of the local population in danger of poverty and social exclusion despite record-breaking visitor number

A TIME TO LISTEN: If residents are shouting, it’s because they don’t feel heard

Local activists are organising large-scale demonstrations across the Canary Islands on April 20th, to make their concerns heard over the impact of a rampant increase in tourism numbers and large-scale resorts planned in the islands. While the Canary Islands depend heavily on tourism for their income and are among world leaders in providing holidays in the sun, the current tourism model favours international developers with a record return on their investment and unrivalled occupancy rates year-r