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Spain faces backlash over overtourism: 'Go home'

Amidst the allure of the Canary Islands' volcanic landscapes and perpetual sunshine, Spain grapples with escalating anti-tourism sentiments, echoing concerns about sustainable development and local interests.

Under the banner "The Canaries have a limit," a coalition of groups in the archipelago is gearing up for a series of protests against unchecked tourism growth. They urge authorities to halt construction on two new hotels in Tenerife, the largest and most developed of the islands, and advocate for greater local input to mitigate environmental damage.

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The collective "Canaries Sold Out" has taken further action, with some members commencing an "indefinite" hunger strike to amplify their demands. Critiquing the archipelago's burgeoning visitor numbers—16 million in 2023, sevenfold its population—they caution against unsustainable growth and its toll on resources.

Similar movements against overtourism have emerged across Spain. In Malaga, stickers bearing unwelcoming messages adorn tourist lodgings, reflecting discontent with the "sun and beach" tourism model. Barcelona and the Balearic Islands witness symbolic protests, like fake warning signs on beaches, drawing attention to overcrowding and resource strains.

The proliferation of short-term rentals exacerbates housing shortages and escalates rents, particularly in urban hubs. In Catalonia's Costa Brava, hotel water consumption exacerbates water scarcity, sparking community outrage and calls for stricter regulations.

Despite the pandemic's initial hiatus on travel, Spain's tourism rebound has reignited debate on managing tourist influxes. Cities like San Sebastian and Seville implement crowd control measures, while Barcelona explores innovative solutions like adjusting digital mapping to alleviate tourist congestion.

Acknowledging the tourism sector's economic significance, the government weighs measures to regulate tourist accommodations while safeguarding local interests. Housing Minister Isabel Rodriguez underscores the delicate balance between nurturing tourism and addressing community concerns, a challenge at the heart of Spain's evolving tourism landscape.

April 17, 2024 12:54 p.m. 4404

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