By John Ensor • 01 September 2023 • 11:49
Stock image of Jet2 Aircraft.
Is the Canary Islands’ economy at risk due to rising local resentment against tourists?
Officials in the Canary Islands have recently called on local residents to abandon their growing ‘tourismphobia’. The plea comes as the islands’ new Tourism Minister, Jessica de Leon, emphasises the critical role of British tourists in the local economy, writes GB News.
According to de Leon, tourism makes up 35 per cent of the Canary Islands’ GDP. ‘The tourismphobia that is being fuelled by some sectors in the Canary Islands is beginning to get worrying,’ she stated in an interview with the Canary Weekly. ‘Tourism is colliding with residents, but we must face these points of conflict and tackle them head-on, as in the case of housing.’
Residents have been increasingly vocal about their concerns, staging protests against the influx of tourists. Placards at these demonstrations read, ‘The Canaries are no longer a paradise’ and ‘The Canaries are not for sale’. A representative from the protest group told Canary Weekly, ‘Mass tourism has destroyed numerous natural spaces throughout the archipelago, and caused the degradation of many others due to the unsustainable pressure exerted by the 13 million tourists who visit the islands each year.’
The protestors are advocating for new laws to protect the interests of permanent residents. They are also pushing for restrictions that would specifically target tourists, such as reducing the number of available rooms in hotels and limiting the construction of new tourist-oriented buildings. ‘The population suffers chronic stress due to the great tourist pressure in the area,’ the demonstrators explained.
Earlier this month, the CEO of Jet2, Steve Heapy, criticised Lanzarote’s President Dolores Corujo for her comments about British tourists. Corujo had expressed a desire to shift the island’s tourism focus away from British visitors in favour of ‘higher quality holidaymakers’. Heapy responded, ‘As the largest UK tour operator to Lanzarote, I contacted her for clarification over her inflammatory and quite frankly offensive comments about British tourists.’
The Canary Islands are at a crossroads, balancing the economic benefits of tourism with the social and environmental costs borne by the local population. The situation remains tense as both sides seek a sustainable path forward.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
When he's not writing for EWN he enjoys gigging in a acoustic duo, looking after their four dogs, four chickens, two cats, and cycling up mountains very slowly.
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