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Tens of thousands are protesting against mass tourism

Rising rents for locals, garbage, environmental pollution: Tens of thousands of people on the Canary Islands have protested against the consequences of mass tourism. There were solidarity demonstrations on the Spanish mainland.

Tens of thousands of people protested against mass tourism in the Canary Islands. According to the police, around 20,000 people demonstrated on the streets of the large cities on the Spanish holiday islands, and the organizers spoke of almost 50,000 participants. They vented their anger with chants and whistles, and banners bore slogans such as “The Canary Islands are not for sale,” “Tourism moratorium,” “Tourism increases my rent,” and “Respect my homeland.”

The demonstrators demanded, for example, that the authorities better control regulations for the rental of holiday accommodation and regulate the purchase of real estate by people without residence on the islands. The demands also include an environmental tax for tourists.

Rallies also on the mainland

The participants also want to stop construction of two new hotels on Tenerife and have a say in how tourism should be further developed. On the Spanish mainland, solidarity rallies took place in the capital Madrid and in the Catalan metropolis Barcelona. Last week, several activists from the “Canary Islands Sell-Out” protest movement even went on a hunger strike against mass tourism.

A good 2.2 million people live in the Canary Islands. Almost seven times as many foreign tourists visited the islands last year, around 14 million visitors, mainly from Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands. There were also around two million Spaniards from the mainland. Most foreign tourists went to the larger islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.

More important Economic factor

Tourism is essential to the islands' economy. The industry accounts for 35 percent of economic output and secures 40 percent of jobs. But only a few are benefiting from the boom. Of Spain's 17 autonomous communities, which correspond to the German federal states, the Canary Islands are the second poorest.

Tourism also plays an important role for Spain as a whole, with a GDP share of at least 12.8 percent. In recent months, however, protests against tourism have increased across the country.

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