“We are not against tourists, we just want a more equitable distribution of wealth”

“We are not against tourists, we just want a more equitable distribution of wealth”

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‘The Canary Islands have a limit’. Under this motto, dozens of associations and part of the citizens of the archipelago will take to the streets on April 20, motivated by the “fed up with a failed tourism and territorial planning model”the president of one of the organizing entities of the rally, the Telesforo Bravo-Juan Coello Foundation, Jaime Coello, bluntly declares.

Both he and the spokesperson for the Salvar La Tejita association, Rubén Pérez, who has also joined the initiative, emphasize that what they demand is “real sustainable development, a complete reorientation of the activity and the tourism model.” For now, This mobilization will take place simultaneously on five islands: Tenerife. Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and La Palma.

In addition, a «redistribution of tourist wealth»since, “most of it stays in the tourists’ country of origin”, which causes “an increase in impoverishment and social exclusion of the inhabitants of the islands”, as Coello explains.

Therefore, the organization regrets that there is talk of tourismphobia. «Both the president of the Canary Islands and those of the Chamber are wrong in their diagnosis. They are the ones who They must lead this change of model and, if they do not understand what disease is affecting us, it will be difficult to solve it,” says Jaime Coello.

In this sense, the professor of Geography at the University of La Laguna, Víctor Martín, believes that with these speeches “what they want is to alarm citizens” because they are made to believe that they are “against everything.” Therefore, he conveys that they are aware that “changing from one tourism model to another requires a long time, and no one is saying that tourism will stop overnight.”

Given this situation, the expert considers that the solution to this problem would be to “put a stop to this tourist growth” and “start thinking about how we can move towards a more sustainable and more diversified model.” He highlights that in the archipelago “there are resources and qualified personnel to develop sectors such as agriculture, agroindustry or the industrial sector, which are currently completely missing from the islands.”

There are specific requests from the associations that organize the mobilizations, such as controlling the number of tourists, establishing tourist taxes or limiting the number of residents, among other issues.

For his part, the president of the Telesforo Bravo Foundation, Jaime Coello, comments that the current system, which is based on “mass tourism and the occupation of every centimeter of the land”, results in “many environmental problems that are leading both terrestrial and marine ecosystems to collapse”, which is generating “very important social problems.” And, precisely, this “mass tourism” has negative consequences on the sector. “The quality of the tourism product is being destroyed by the investors themselves and the autonomous government itself,” criticizes geographer Víctor Martín. In this sense, the expert comments that travelers who come to the islands “do not enjoy all the landscapes because everything is full of people and they see the environmental deterioration that exists.”

This whole situation has a direct impact on the Canary Islands. As Jaime Coello highlights, the effects translate into “road collapses, lack of access to housing by residents”due to a “very significant” population increase.

Added to all this is “the pressure on public health and educational systems”, which means that «the quality of life in the Canary Islands is decliningand that is because the authorities are not being able to understand that this model leads us to collapse.

The Government and Canarian businessmen, “concerned” about the mobilizations

The Government of the Canary Islands and the hotel employers’ association view with concern the demonstration called on April 20 on five islands.

The president of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, also expressed his concern about the mobilizations that will take place on five islands of the archipelago and called for “common sense”: “Tourism is our main source of wealth, and I believe that whoever comes to enjoy, to spend a few days and leave your money in the Canary Islands, you don’t even have to be scolded. He thus recalled that the Government has already taken “important steps in housing.”

According to statements collected by Efe, the vice president of Ashotel, Gabriel Wolgeschaffe, sees with “concern” that demonstrations are called against the tourism model and has claimed that “the cow that gives milk must be left alone.”

The president of the Gran Canaria Chamber of Commerce, Luis Padrón, expressed the same line, saying that the “tourism sector must be pampered and protected.” In his opinion, what has to be done is to continue working to have “more interesting tourism” in reference to “quality and quantity.”

The president of the Chamber of Commerce in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Santiago Sesé, also stated that they will be against “everything that could be tourismphobia”, referring to slogans such as ‘Tourists go home’ that have been reproduced in places public. However, he stated that they are aware that “we must reflect” on the current model.

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