Thousands of people demonstrated against mass tourism on the Canary Islands on Saturday. According to the police, around 20,000 people protested on the streets of the large cities on the Spanish holiday islands, and the organizers spoke of almost 50,000 participants. They vented their anger with chants and whistles, and banners displayed slogans such as “The Canary Islands are not for sale”, “Tourism moratorium” and “Respect my homeland”.

The organizers of the protests criticize that tourism in the Canary Islands in its current form is harmful to the islanders and the environment. They therefore demand that the authorities limit the number of tourists.

“We are not against tourism,” protester Rosario Correo told public television station TVE. “We just demand that they change the current model that allows unlimited growth in tourism.” Protester Alfonso Boullon agreed: “The government and regional leadership of the islands must end this corrupt model of never-ending growth, which is based on the destruction of the environment and only weakens the economy.”

Specifically, the demonstrators called for a halt to construction of two new hotels on Tenerife, the largest and most touristically developed of the seven Canary Islands. They also demanded that the islanders have a say in decisions regarding the further development of tourism.

On the Spanish mainland, solidarity rallies took place in the capital Madrid and in the Catalan metropolis Barcelona. Last week, several activists from the “Canary Islands Sell-Out” protest movement even went on a hunger strike against mass tourism.

A total of around 2.2 million people live on the islands off North Africa with their sunny beaches and volcanic landscapes. Last year 16 million tourists visited the Canary Islands. One in four residents of the archipelago works in tourism, the industry accounts for 36 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Tourism also plays an important role for Spain as a whole, with a GDP share of at least 12.8 percent. It is the second most popular holiday destination in the world, with 85 million tourists coming last year.

In recent months, however, protests against tourism have increased across the country. The authorities are therefore looking for ways to better protect residents from the negative effects of tourism without reducing the important income from the industry.