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Tourism protests not the answer

An Irish businessman based in Tenerife has said that stopping or protesting against tourism is not the answer to overtourism, ahead of planned demonstrations on the Canary Islands this weekend.

Rallying under the slogan ‘The Canaries have a limit’, a collective of groups on the Canary Islands are planning a number of protests on Saturday.

The Canaries – which are made up of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and the smaller islands of La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro – are known for volcanic landscapes and year-round sunshine and attracts millions of visitors from all over the world.

Groups there want authorities to halt work on two new hotels on Tenerife, the largest and most developed of the archipelago’s seven islands.

They are also demanding that locals be given a greater say in the face of what they consider uncontrolled development which is harming the environment.

Several members of the collective ‘Canaries Sold Out’ also began an “indefinite” hunger strike last week to put pressure of the authorities.

Roscommon native Daniel Ewing owns three businesses which are reliant on tourism in Tenerife, where he has lived and worked for the past 12 years.

Daniel Ewing, whose three businesses rely on tourism, said he was hopeful of a busy summer

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Ewing said he understood why the protests were happening, but did not agree with the sentiment.

“Protesting against tourism is not the answer. I was here during Covid-19 when the lockdown happened and there was no tourism, and everyone was struggling to get by.

“Protesting against tourism is the wrong way for me. I think it should be directed towards the government here and ask them to look at policies.

“There’s talk of a tourist tax. I would assume it would be done in a clever way and that it wouldn’t be an insane amount. It’s not a bad idea, but there is a lot of revenue here on the island from tourism anyway.

“If it’s not a huge amount, I don’t see a massive problem with it and I don’t think it would deter people. At the end of the day with anything like that you need to make sure that the tax is going to the place it is needed”.

Mr Ewing said he was very hopeful of a busy summer.

“It’s very busy already. We’re busier now than the same period last year. We have put a lot of focus on social media and we’re already hitting record numbers compared to last year.

The Canaries received 16 million visitors last year, more than seven times its population of around 2.2 million people.

Overall, Spain welcomed a record 85.1 million foreign visitors last year.

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