In Canary Islands, Spain

Although this blew up in the Daily Mail over the course of the last week, the situation in Tenerife is one I have been keeping an eye on for a while. Whilst many think that sustainable tourism is about being ‘eco’ or ‘green’ and focused on the environment, it’s far more than that, it’s about the overall impact we have on a destination in which we travel.

In the case of Tenerife, there are a number of environmental and socio-economic factors which has meant that locals don’t believe they see the benefit that tourism brings to the island – which has caused a minority to create signs saying ‘Tourists go Home’.

To start with, tourist numbers are up nearly 10% this winter in Tenerife, a season which has been its warmest and dryest ever. That has a knock-on effect as they are now running short of water, and are enacting measures to conserve water for the typically dry summer season. It was noted that a tourist in one of the resort areas uses 16x more water than a local – something which needs to be addressed.

With more tourists, there’s also a larger number of short-term rentals, which is pricing locals out of the housing market with ever-inflated pricing, especially in the south of the island. ¬†It has led them to call for a ‘better class of tourist’, one who respects the local culture, has respect for the natural resources and can have a a positive impact on the local community.

These are all things we strongly agree with, as an ever-growing tourism market in popular destinations is only going to cause conflict and ultimately more problems for tourists in the coming years. We do have the ability to create change though, if we work together.

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