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You are no longer welcome to Spain for your holiday

You are no longer welcome to Spain for your holiday

From the Balearic Islands to the Canary Islands via Barcelona and Malaga, anti-overtourism movements are increasing in Spain, the second largest destination in the world, prompting the authorities to move to reconcile the well-being of the population with a very important economic sector.

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“The Canary Islands are no longer tolerable”: Under this slogan, a call for demonstrations was launched on Saturday in the islands of this archipelago located off the coast of northwest Africa, famous for its volcanic landscape and constant sunshine.

The goal: to stop the construction of two hotel complexes on Tenerife, the main island of the archipelago, and to better take into account the population and the environment in the face of the uncontrolled growth of tourism.

“Our islands are a treasure that must be defended,” asserts “Canarias seagota” (“The Canaries Are Running Out”), the group that was at the origin of this movement, and some of whose members went on strike last week to pressure the authorities.

Last year, the Canary Islands welcomed 16 million visitors, seven times its population of 2.2 million. The group's spokesman, Victor Martin, a very high figure, expressed his regret during a press conference, denouncing the “suicidal development” given the local “resources”.

  • Listen to the interview with the traveler Alexi Roy and founder of Les Vols d'Alexi on the Yasmine Abdel Fadil program via QUB :
“go home”

This anger is not isolated, as several “anti-tourism” movements, which have been widely reported on social media, have emerged in recent weeks elsewhere in the country.

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In Málaga, the “Soli Playa” (sun and beach) tourism mecca in Andalusia (south), posters with unattractive slogans have appeared on the walls and doors of tourist accommodation (“Before here, it was my home”, “It was my home”). “The bad smell of tourists”, “Go home”…).

The same is true in Barcelona or the Balearic Islands, where activists have installed false signs at the entrance to some beaches indicating, in English, the danger of “falling stones” or “dangerous jellyfish stings”, in order to scare potential visitors.

France Press agency

Among the complaints submitted by residents were real estate pressure and the spread of tourist rentals, which forced many residents to flee city centers, as well as noise and environmental pollution.

In Catalonia, which has been facing a historic drought for three years, the pressure that hotels on the Costa Brava are putting on water reserves is alarming, while the authorities put almost the entire region in a state of emergency at the beginning of the year in February.

Tourists visit the grand staircase of Park Guell in Barcelona.

An alley in Barcelona crowded with tourists.

France Press agency

José Luis Zoraida, vice president of employers' organization Exceltor, recently admitted that “there are tourist destinations that have reached the maximum capacity.” “This is a problem that sometimes arises in peak season and in certain parts of the country, but it is increasing.”

12.8% of GDP

Already in the 2000s, residents mobilized against overtourism, especially in Barcelona. But after the Covid-19 hiatus, discontent appears to have been rising, with Spain welcoming a record 85.1 million foreign visitors last year.

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In order to avoid any crowding, several cities took the initiative, such as San Sebastian in the Basque Country (north), which decided at the end of last March to limit the number of tourist groups to 25 people in its city center after banning the use of public transportation. Loudspeaker during guided tours.

At the end of March, Seville (south) announced that it might impose entry fees to its famous Spanish staircase on non-residents. The city of Barcelona has decided to remove the bus line popular with tourists from Google Maps in order to return it to residents.

But for the authorities, making these decisions is not easy. In Spain, tourism represents 12.8% of GDP and 12.6% of jobs: countless families therefore depend on this sector and will not be happy with the country retreating from its welcoming traditions.

The consequences of excessive tourism on real estate imply “working to limit the number of tourist apartments”, but the government also “recognizes the importance of the tourism sector”, Housing Minister Isabel Rodriguez stressed on Sunday, defending a balanced approach to the tourism sector. Interview with the daily newspaper El Pais.