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Tenerife chiefs’ latest message to Irish tourists after protests amid new €3 tax

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THOUSANDS of locals from the Canary Islands have taken to the streets to protest this week amid demands that “tourists go home”.

Locals in the sun-kissed Spanish islands of Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria are claiming that tourism is destroying their economy.

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Protests went on over the weekend in TenerifeCredit: EPA
Millions of tourists head to the Canary Islands each year

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Millions of tourists head to the Canary Islands each yearCredit: Getty Images – Getty

The islands, located off the coast of northwestern Africa, are a popular holiday spot for Irish and British sun-seekers.

But many have been left wondering whether they should cancel their travelling plans after Tenerife locals turned out in their thousands for the anti-tourist protest over the weekend.

The chaos began earlier this month when Canary Islands regional president Fernando Clavijo said he was worried about graffiti appearing on the island, including “Tourists go home.”

It was then reported that campaigners were set to take to the streets on April 20 with the slogan ‘The Canary Islands have a limit’.

Read more on Canary Islands

Residents protested against tourism on the island and aim to halt the construction of two new hotels.

They are also demanding that locals are given more of a lay when it comes to development and the natural landscape of the island.

There has been an increase in the cost of housing in major Spanish cities, similar to the increase seen across Europe.

Many of the locals are claiming the influx of tourism since Covid has been the reason for this alongside the development of hotels.

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Locals say they are now faced with travelling further distances due to the lack of housing in popular areas.

Tenerife locals spread graffiti telling Brits to go home

What has happened?

The protesters filled a square in the capital on Saturday brandishing banners including some that read “You enjoy we suffer” in English.

More than 15,000 people waved Canary Islands’ flags and blew horns to make a deafening noise in capital Santa Cruz.

Protests also took place at the same time on other popular Canary islands including Lanzarote and Gran Canaria.

Campaigners in charge of the protest tried to distance themselves from the anti-tourist graffiti.

The Tenerife Association of Friends of Nature claimed they are not against tourism, but instead the protest was to highlight “the continuous degradation of the environment, the saturation of public spaces due to overpopulation, the increase of traffic jams and the difficulties of access to housing.”

How will holidaymakers be affected?

While no official action has been made by Government authorities in the wake of the protest, there is talk of a tourist tax coming in.

Canary Islands president Fernando Clavijo has suggested that the government is considering a €3 per night charge for tourists.

This would mean Irish holidaymakers will be hit with an extra €3 cost for every night that they stay on the island – a common concept that has been implemented in other popular holiday destinations across the world.

He said that while “ecotax is not included in the government program”, it is “true” that it is something they are “willing to discuss”.

Who has said what?

Organisers behind the protest Tenerife Association of Friends of Nature have shared their reasons behind the cause and urged officials to find a solution.

They said: “Voices will be heard calling out against the destruction of natural spaces, as well as others suggesting a halt to overpopulation, complaining against the illegal construction of dwellings on non urban land and the excessive occupation of the territory, or warning of the abusive use of holiday rentals and the massive sale of land and properties for speculative use.

“These are all challenges that have been affecting the Islands for years and to which our leaders have shown no intention of finding a
solution.”

The Canary Island’s president Fernando Clavijo admitted that they have been left “worried” over the growing anti-tourism movement and urged holidaymakers to keep coming.

He said: “We are worried because tourism is our main source of income and I think that whoever comes here to enjoy, to spend a few days and to leave their money in the Canary Islands, shouldn’t be rebuked or face insults.”

Lope Afonso, vice-president of the Tenerife Island Council, has disapproved of the planned protests, saying he regrets that the “unfair” attacks were being aimed at tourists.

Jaime Coello, president of the Telesforo Bravo Foundation, said: “The quality of the tourist product is being destroyed by the investors and the regional government.”

Spanish press has also called on the authorities to enact new measures to curb tourism and said visitors were still welcome.

Is it still safe to go?

The Canary Tourist Board told the Irish Sun that they are urging holidaymakers not to cancel their plans to visit and are encouraging people to still consider the Canary Islands as a holiday destination.

They said: “In terms of tourists, the situation they see on the eight islands is absolutely normal.

“We are aware that there has been some isolated and specific event, but this has not altered at any time the enjoyment of the holidays of those who visit us.

“It should not be forgotten that the organisers of the 20th demonstrations themselves have explained that they are not positioning themselves against tourists who arrive on the islands, but defending a change in the tourism model that the Government of the Canary Islands has been implementing for three years now.

“The Canarian people have turned the tourist destination of the Canary Islands into one of the best in the world due to the unique and complete value concept we have built in the last decade, especially after the pandemic.”

Campaigners used the slogan 'Canary Islands have limits'

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Campaigners used the slogan ‘Canary Islands have limits’Credit: AP:Associated Press
Thousands gathered for the protests

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Thousands gathered for the protestsCredit: AP:Associated Press

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