‘My misery, your paradise’: Canary Island residents say mass tourism is at breaking point

Locals are being forced to sleep in their cars and even caves.
Locals are being forced to sleep in their cars and even caves. Copyright Reiseuhu
Copyright Reiseuhu
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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Activists say locals are being forced to sleep in their cars and even caves.


Residents in the Canary Islands are planning protests and strikes in a backlash against overtourism.

Campaigners say the unsustainable influx of visitors is ruining life in the holiday hotspot.

One activist group on the island of Tenerife has planned a hunger strike over the construction of two new hotels.

Others report locals sleeping in cars and caves due to soaring house prices.

Graffiti has appeared on buildings and a rental car telling tourists to 'go home'. 

In 2023, the archipelago attracted 14.1 million foreign visitors, a record for the island group.

Canary Island residents plan hunger strike over hotel development

Demonstrators in Tenerife have organised a hunger strike this week over two new hotel developments.

Authorities had halted work on Hotel La Tejita and Cuna del Alma in Tenerife’s Puertito de Adeje over environmental breaches but construction has recently resumed.

Canarias Se Agota (Canaries Sold Out) also plans to hold demonstrations on 20 April in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and La Palma under the tagline ‘The Canaries have a limit’.

Canarias se exhausta (The Canary Islands are exhausted) is another key group behind the plans for the islands-wide protests.

“We in these islands have always been very welcoming to tourists. But we want more sustainable tourism,” Ruben Zerpa, of Canaries Sold Out, told UK newspaper i.

“Tenerife is a small island with limited resources. The roads are overwhelmed with traffic, there is a hydraulic emergency going on and hotels are full.”

Canary Island residents are living in their cars

Zerpa added that tourism has forced up rental prices making it unaffordable for many local residents.

“I earn about €900 and live with my partner but the rent is €800 per month. That is Santa Cruz, which is not even one of the most expensive parts of the island,” he said.

“Airbnb and are like a cancer that is consuming the island bit by bit.”
Ivan Cerdena Molina

Ivan Cerdena Molina, who is helping organise the protests, told local news outlet The Olive Press that locals are being forced to sleep in their cars and even caves as housing gets snapped up by tourism operators.

“We have nothing against individual tourists but the industry is growing and growing and using up so many resources and the island cannot cope,” he said.

“Airbnb and are like a cancer that is consuming the island bit by bit.”

One local organisation said the islands are “collapsing socially and environmentally” under the pressure from mass tourism.


A report from Ecologists in Action warned that almost 34 per cent of the local population - nearly 800,000 people - are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

The floods of holidaymakers to the Canaries are also putting pressure on health services, waste management, water supplies and biodiversity.

Canaries residents erect signs to ward off tourists

Residents have put up fake ‘closed to overcrowding’ posters and stickers in an attempt to deter tourists in certain overcrowded places.

‘Do not enter’ signs appeared near popular beauty spots on the island of Lanzarote last month, with some areas chained off.

“It is time to boycott, with the tools at our disposal, the tourist activity that is expelling us from our own land,” activists wrote on social media.


Near other popular attractions, anti-tourism graffiti has appeared reading ‘My misery your paradise’ and ‘Tourist go home’.

This week, photos were posted on social media of a rental car spray painted with the words 'go home'.

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