Published On: Fri, Jan 26th, 2024

Canary Islands ‘collapsing’ under strain as too many tourists descend on holiday hotspot | World | News

Urban planning specialists in Spain are sounding the alarm over the Canary Islands, warning that the territory was on the brink of collapse due to the overwhelming influx of tourists. Ben Magec-Ecologists in Action stressed that the crisis was not only due to the quality but also the quantity of urban development.

Eugenio Reyes, spokesman for Ben Magec, also expressed concerns, stating: “The Canary Islands territory was more than overexploited. We had exceeded the carrying capacity of the territory by seven times, resulting in a scenario of systemic collapse due to the urban development structure.”

The warning came amid public commendations for the Canary Islands as a prime tourist destination at Fitur. However, architects and ecologists raised alarms about the model of land occupation by hotel facilities, asserting that the Canary Islands were at their limit.

Juan Torres, the dean of the College of Architects of Gran Canaria, emphasised the need for substantial changes.

He said: “On an urban planning and architectural level, we could not remain with mere cosmetic operations. We had to take the right steps so that we all join in the improvement plans, which were really needed in the Canary Islands.”

Experts foresee the Canary Islands following a trajectory similar to Barcelona, with urban planning displacing the local population in favour of tourism. The concern is not limited to infrastructure; it extends to neighbourhoods transforming into holiday cities, causing a decline in local populations and straining public services.

Despite the debate, a common conclusion emerged: the need for a sustainable tourism model. The Tenerife College of Architects hosted a discussion, highlighting the challenges of managing 14 million tourists and the urgency of promoting sustainable practices.

In response to record-breaking tourist numbers, Ben Magec-Ecologistas en Acción urgently called for a reevaluation of the tourism model in the Canary Islands. The organisation advocates for a decrease in tourism and a cap on visitor numbers to alleviate social and environmental pressures.

“The Canary Islands have a limit,” insisted Ben Magec, pointing to the islands being completely overcrowded. The organisation argues that waste generation and resource exploitation were causing irreversible damage to natural ecosystems.

A study by the Sustainability Lab in New York, in collaboration with the University Institute of Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development, revealed a 50 percent reduction in the Canary Islands’ capacity to assimilate tourist pressure without irreparable damage in the last two decades.

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