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Tenerife declares emergency as 5.4m tourists head to island – 'it will only get worse'

A water shortage emergency has been declared in Tenerife as tourism on the island continues to rocket.  The Tenerife Island Water Council has approved the declaration of a water emergency on the island after Government intervention.

Urgent works will now be carried out as well as a public awareness campaign to try and save water during the island’s warmest February since 1961.

Now politicians are pointing the finger at tourism as one of the driving factors of the issue  – with a five-star hotel consuming 400 litres of water per client, per day, which is up to four times more than a resident.

The Canary Islands recorded the second best year in terms of visitors last year, with more than 14 million people jetting in. Tenerife received 5.6 million tourists despite a population of just under one million people – and the predictions are that tourism will continue to surge.

Juan Rumeu, of the Canary Islands Business Association of Environmental Consultants, warned the measures – such as carrying out 34 urgent repairs – are “too late”. 

He said he feared the situation would get worse because of an increase in the island’s population and tourism, reports www.eldiario.es.ález,

Luis Javier González, mayor of Fasnia in Tenerife, warned: “If we continue to bet on the massive arrival of tourism and the scarcity of water resources is maintained, the situation will be more complex”.

‌The Town Council of Fasnia has now become the first authority to announce restrictions such as prohibiting the use of drinking water for the irrigation of farms and gardens, filling swimming pools, tanks, ponds or reservoirs. 

Also on the banned list is washing vehicles, cleaning of façades of houses and showers on the beaches.

Mr González took aim at tourism and said that “water is being diverted to the south because there is more consumption there due to the presence of tourists”.

‌The temperature exceeded 31C during February and rainfall was only 23 percent of the expected value.

Experts said that over-tourism has put the Canary Islands and its infrastructure under enormous strain which is no longer sustainable and that if the massive influx of tourists who visit the Canaries is not reduced then it faces “systemic collapse”.

Campaign group Ben Magec-Ecologists in Action has spoken out after tourist figures for 2023 revealed the record number of visitors.


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