The Canary Islands Tourism Promotion Entity (Turismo Islas Canarias) has stepped forward to refute recent British media claims of an imminent “collapse” of the tourism infrastructure in the Canary Islands.
Contrary to the alarming reports, the authority argues that the pressure on the land, its resources, and the local population is significantly less than in other tourist destinations.
Tourist numbers and sustainable measures
The Canary Islands have attracted a substantial number of international tourists. Figures reaching 14.6 million from January to November 2023 and estimates suggesting a rise to 16.2 million. These numbers are on par with those recorded between 2017 and 2020. The authority highlights that the daily presence of 312,216 tourists on average indicates a relatively minor impact. Compared to other destinations the islands receive tourists all year round instead of concentrated tourist influxes during specific times of the year.
Consequently, the Canary Islands are acclaimed for their stable flow of tourists throughout the year, with minimal seasonality. According to the sustainability of the tourism on the islands, they have adopted the goals of the Glasgow Declaration, aiming for Net Zero by 2050. Furthermore they were the first Spanish region to commit to this goal with a Climate Action Plan. In this regard they have introduced a digital tool, “Viaje a la Descarbonización,” to help tourism businesses measure and reduce their carbon footprint.
Alarm over imminent collapse
UK newspapers, a key market for Canary Islands tourism, have raised alarms, citing reports by experts from the ecological group Ben Magec-Ecologists in Action. These reports warn of a potential systemic collapse in islands like Lanzarote and Tenerife if visitor numbers are not reduced.
Experts express concern over the islands’ infrastructure and resource capacity to handle the influx of tourists. This reached approximately 16.2 million foreign visitors in 2023. They emphasize the challenges in managing waste generated by tourists. According to their statements, waste generation and resource exploitation are causing nearly irreversible degradation of the natural ecosystems. This concern aligns with a recent study by the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Researches warned here of irreversible environmental damage due to tourism development.
Local protests and concers
The British media’s report also refers to recent local protests against tourism in the Canary Islands. For example to recent demonstrations in the Tenerife municipality of Arona with anti-tourist slogans, the creation of fake signage to deter travellers, and opposition to the ‘Cuna del Alma’ tourism project in Adeje, Tenerife. These actions reflect growing concerns and resistance among residents about the environmental and social impacts of tourism on the islands.