Over-tourism: now is the time for action

Considering the state of things and the protests we are seeing cropping up around the world (London, Berlln, Tenerife), over-tourism is the hot word of the minute, but what does it reallly mean?
Over-tourism refers to the phenomenon where excessive numbers of tourists visit a destination, leading to negative impacts on the environment, infrastructure, traffic congestion, increased property values, local culture, and quality of life for residents. It includes issues such as congestion, air and noise pollution and increased strain on local resources.

With approximately 14 million tourists visiting the Canary Islands in 2023 against a local population of just over 2 million, it is easy to see that a local might feel overwhelmed and indeed even overlooked in their own home, hencee the animosity towards tourists. In order to preserve the beauty and natural resources of the Canary Islands, it is essential to slow down the rate of tourism in the region. While tourism brings economic benefits, it also puts a strain on the environment and local communities. By implementing measures to control the flow of tourists and limit the development of large-scale resorts, the Canary Islands can ensure the long-term sustainability of their natural resources. It is important to prioritize the well-being of the islands and their inhabitants over short-term econommic gains, and to think about the long-term implications of uncontrolled tourism on the delicate ecosystem of the region. By taking a more sustainable and thoughtful approach to tourism, the Canary Islands can continue to attract visitors while preserving their unique identity and natural beauty for generations to come.

Tenerife and the Canary Islands have long been renowned for their beautiful beaches and sunny warm weather year long, drawing in tourists from around the world seeking a relaxing beach holiday. However, there is much more to these islands than just sun and sea. With their diverse landscapes, rich history, vibrant culture, and unique biodiversity, Tenerife and the Canaries offer a wide range of experiences for tourists to enjoy.

To move tourism away from the traditional sun and sea model and embrace all that Tenerife and the Canaries have to offer, local government, businesses, residents and tourists alike must work together to promote the islands as a multi-faceted destination. a greater emphasis could be put, for example on outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling and kayaking as well as promoting local gastronomy and culture. One of the most distinctive aspects of Canarian culture is its traditional music and dance, including the popular folk music genre known as “timple music” which features the timple, a small guitar-like instrument. Canarian folk dances, such as the “Isa” and the “Folía,” are also an important part of the cultural heritage of the islands.

Furthermore, showcasing the islands’ unique gastronomy, with a focus on local ingredients and traditional dishes sourced from local farmer’s markets, can appeal to food enthusiasts seeking authentic culinary experiences. Embracing all options Tenerife and the Canaries offer will not only attract a more diverse range of tourists but also help to promote a more sustainable and slower tourism esxperience that will benefit both the local economy and environment. By shifting the focus from just sun and sea to a more holistic approach, Tenerife and the Canaries can establish themselves as a premier destination for travelers looking for a truly unforgettable experience.

Over-tourism and environmental care ar not a single person or entity’s responsibility, we must all do our part if we wish to invert the trend. Tourists and visitors have the power, through their monetary choices, to nudge local actors towards more sustainable behaviours. Choosing sustainable accomodation, demanding energy efficiency and certifications from hotels, supporting local business and farmer’s markets when on the islands, being mindful consumers will bear a huge impact on how the tourism model of the Canary Islands will be developed in the future. Local goverment must become more stringent on development and redevlopment plans for tourism accomodation, it must ensure that the wildlife and their habitat is being protected, that resources are being used efficiently and it must effectively communicate the costs and benefits of the tourism model. Local businesses must make their offering in line with sustainable best practices and local residents must embrace this change.

In closing, Canary Green aspires to serve as a conduit for fostering collaboration among the diverse stakeholders of tourism in the Canary Islands. Our vision extends beyond a singular effort; rather, we envision a sustained commitment to cultivating sustainability throughout the archipelago. By bringing together all stakeholders, from local communities to businesses and policymakers, we aim to forge a collective path towards a greener, more sustainable future for the Canary Islands. Together, let us embark on this journey of lasting change, ensuring that the natural beauty and cultural richness of these islands endure for generations to come.

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