Anti-Tourism Movements Spark Debate in Spain

An increasing number of Spaniards are opposing the country’s tourism strategies, urging the authorities to consider local interests as tourism is suffocating Spain, which is the second-most visited country in the world.

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A group of tourists protested on April 20, asking authorities to discontinue working at two new hotels on Tenerife, which is the most popular tourist island out of the seven in Spain, SchengenVisaInfo reports.

Some of the members of the collective Canaries Sold Out are allegedly on a hunger strike to put pressure on the authorities. The Canary Islands welcomed 16 million visitors in 2023, which is seven times more than its population of 2.2 million people.

Residents Combating Over Tourism More Common All Throughout Spain

In the southern port of Malaga on the Costa del Sol, tourists have put stickers with unfriendly slogans, especially on the walls and doors of tourist accommodations.

In some places, such as Barcelona and the Balearic Islands, activists have put up fake warning signs such as “Falling Rocks” or  “Dangerous Jellyfish”, to discourage tourists.

These places are also dealing with a housing shortage, which results from locals listing accommodation on short-term rental platforms. Thus, rent in the country is soaring. Tourists are also causing noise and environmental pollution as well as more taxes.

In Catalonia, a drought emergency has been declared and the remaining reserves of water are being used by hotels on the Costa Brava.

Our concern is to continue to grow tourism in Spain so that it is sustainable and does not generate social revulsion.

Jose Luis Zoreda, Vice-President of Exceltur, Tourism Association

In 2024, Spain is expected to generate a record amount of €202.65 billion from tourism.

Nearly 6 Million People Visited Spain in January Alone

According to Turespana, Spain Tourism Office, almost six million tourists visited the country in January of 2024, showing an increase of 12.7 per cent from the previous year.

The United Kingdom is the main country of origin for tourists to Spain, with over 1.1 million visiting the country – 11.1 per cent more than in 2023. Germany followed next with almost 690,000 visitors, while the number of German tourists increased by 11 per cent. The third country is Italy, with Italian tourists being up by 18.2 per cent, totalling 632,500.

While Brits mainly visited the Canary Islands, where 42.7 per cent of British vacationers were staying there, others opted for other destinations, especially Catalonia and Madrid region.