The Canary Islands are on the verge of “impending collapse,” according to recent reports in the Nordic press. The archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean is visited by millions of tourists every year. In 2023, a record was reached with 95.7 million overnight stays.
This news follows previous reporting in the British media. They warned en masse about the tourist pressure on the islands – a situation that has been denied by Turismo Islas Canarias. Swedish, Norwegian and Danish media recently published articles reporting “hatred towards tourists in the Canary Islands” and highlighting possible “collapse”.
These media also include Expressen, Sweden’s second largest medium. This published several articles about the dissatisfaction among hotel cleaning staff. The newspaper used terms such as “slavery” to describe their situation. Similar reporting can be found in Danish media such as B.T. and in Norwegian publications such as Dagbladet. They all refer to conclusions from a report by the group Ben Magec Ecologistas en Acción. The report concludes that the islands are suffering from over-exploitation and that systemic collapse is imminent.
Norway, Sweden and Denmark are three of the eleven largest sources of tourists to the Canary Islands in 2023. The number of visitors that came from here are 407,598, 381,552 and 213,049 respectively. This reporting therefore has potentially far-reaching consequences.
High service level
However, Claes Pellvik, head of communications at Nordic Travel Leisure Group (NTLG), refutes this negative perception. “We absolutely do not recognise ourselves in this scenario. The Canary Islands have been by far the number one destination for the Nordic countries since the 1950s. The various islands are particularly appreciated for the high level of service,” he emphasises.
Pellvik does acknowledge that there are challenges. Especially in a season when the number of arrivals is at record levels and at the same time there is a major staff shortage after the pandemic. Traffic and affordable housing also pose problems. However, he believes these issues are high on the government’s agenda. Something that was recently confirmed by Jessica de León, the regional Minister of Tourism. Another challenge for the islands is the high number of migrant arrivals. The island of El Hierro in particular has to deal with overcrowded reception centres.