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Canary Islands Protest Surge Amid Overtourism Crisis

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In travel news for April 11, 2024 we talk about the recent hunger strikes and other demonstrations on the Canary Islands protesting over tourism.

In the picturesque Canary Islands, a paradise known for its inviting climate and scenic beauty, a crisis is unfolding. The archipelago, having welcomed a record 14.1 million foreign visitors in 2023, is now facing the adverse effects of Overtourism. This surge in tourism has led to significant backlash from the local population, with many residents finding themselves priced out of their homes and communities. The islands are witnessing a series of planned Protests and strikes, including a hunger strike in Tenerife, aimed at drawing attention to the unsustainable influx of tourists and the construction of new hotels that exacerbate local grievances.

Key Points

  • Canary Islands hit a record 14.1 million visitors in 2023, sparking local Protests against Overtourism.
  • Residents face soaring living costs, with some sleeping in cars and caves.
  • Planned Protests include a hunger Strike and demonstrations across the islands.

The Struggle for Sustainable Tourism

The heart of the Protests lies in the demand for more sustainable tourism practices. Activist groups, such as Canarias Se Agota (Canaries Sold Out), argue that the current model of tourism development is unsustainable, straining the island's limited resources and infrastructure. The construction of new hotels, such as Hotel La Tejita and Cuna del Alma, has resumed despite previous halts due to environmental concerns. This move has sparked plans for island-wide demonstrations under the banner "The Canaries have a limit," emphasizing the need for a balance between welcoming tourists and preserving the islands' way of life.

Residents' Plight

The influx of tourists has led to skyrocketing rental prices, making it increasingly difficult for locals to afford living on their own island. Many residents find themselves in dire straits, with incomes that barely cover the rent, pushing some to resort to sleeping in their vehicles or even local caves. The rise of short-term rental platforms, such as Airbnb and Booking.com, is often cited as a major factor in the housing crisis, consuming the island bit by bit.

Calls for Action

Amidst this backdrop, the Canary Islands are also grappling with broader issues brought on by mass tourism, including strains on health services, waste management, water supplies, and biodiversity. Reports indicate that nearly a third of the local population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion due to these pressures. In response, residents have taken creative measures to deter tourists from overcrowded areas, including posting fake ‘closed to overcrowding’ signs and anti-tourism graffiti.

Final Thoughts

The Canary Islands' struggle with Overtourism serves as a stark reminder of the delicate balance required in managing tourist influxes. While tourism is a vital economic engine, its unchecked growth can lead to social and environmental degradation, highlighting the urgent need for sustainable tourism practices. As the islands brace for upcoming Protests and seek solutions, the world watches, hoping for a resolution that safeguards both the beauty of the Canary Islands and the well-being of its residents.

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