60,000 residents rally across the Canary Islands in protest against tourism model

A historic demonstration advocating for more sustainable development overflowed the streets of all eight Canary Islands and extended to several mainland and European capitals.

On the 20th of April, the Canary Islands witnessed a massive demonstration that flooded the streets and squares with a human tide protesting against the unchecked growth of mass tourism and its excesses. The protestors demanded the imposition of limits on development to safeguard their environment and communities. Although not a tsunami, this wave of discontent made its presence felt not only locally but also reached symbolic locations such as Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and the vicinity of London’s iconic Big Ben.

Government sources reported to Europa Press that the total turnout in the Canary Islands was over 57,200, with the largest gathering in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, drawing some 30,000 participants. Other cities saw substantial turnouts as well, with 14,000 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and 9,000 in Arrecife, Lanzarote. Smaller islands like Fuerteventura and El Hierro also saw hundreds joining the protests. However, organisers claim the numbers were much higher, suggesting over 100,000 participants across the region.

60,000 residents rally across the Canary Islands in protest against economic model

The protests symbolised a deep-seated frustration with issues like poverty, low wages, soaring rent prices, and the overtourism that has overwhelmed local infrastructure and natural spaces. This demonstration was reminiscent of previous significant movements in the Canary Islands, such as the protests in 2002 against high-voltage pylons and the 2014 rallies against oil exploration near Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

Key demands from the protestors included a moratorium on new hotel and holiday flat developments, the introduction of an eco-tax, and stricter regulations on property purchases by foreigners. In Tenerife, the sheer volume of protestors created a bottleneck; the front of the march reached the Cabildo’s façade while the tail remained at the starting point, leading many to abandon the protest midway due to slow progress.

60,000 residents rally across the Canary Islands in protest against economic model

Víctor Martín, a spokesperson for the “Canarias se agotta” platform, expressed to the Efe news agency the widespread support for a reevaluation of the tourism model to ensure it benefits the local populace. In Gran Canaria, the protest was deemed a resounding success by Elena Martín of the coordinating group “Regularización ya,” who noted the diversity of the crowd that rallied from the Alfredo Kraus auditorium along Las Canteras avenue. Fuerteventura highlighted its water crisis and housing accessibility issues, while in Lanzarote, slogans like “it’s not tourism-phobia, it’s survival” captured the sentiment of the demonstrators.

Canary Islanders Worldwide Rally for Sustainable Tourism and Local Preservation

The movement also resonated with Canary Islanders abroad, leading to gatherings in cities like Madrid, where hundreds stood in Puerta del Sol against an economic model they claim is displacing them from their homeland. Similar sentiments were echoed in international locations like Berlin, where demonstrators at the Neptune Fountain unveiled a banner promoting limits for sustainable tourism, emphasizing the plight of young Canarians compelled to leave their homes due to the tourism-dominated economy. In London, protestors near the Palace of Westminster rallied under the slogan “Canary is not for sale,” highlighting a global diaspora’s concern for their homeland’s future.

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