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'Tenerife is being ruined by tourists – Brits must pay these 4 taxes to save the island'


View of umbrellas on a beach in Tenerife

In 2023, a total of 14.1 million foreign passengers jetted out to the Canary Islands (Image: Getty)

Campaigners in Tenerife against mass tourism are demanding the government impose a sweeping array of taxes to stop the ever increasing influx in visitor numbers. Tempers have reached boiling point among local residents at the damage the tourism industry is inflicting on the environment and the public infrastructure.

Activists say there has been a serious impact on the day-to-day lives of locals, citing traffic problems and a lack of affordable housing.

Campaigners claim many people are being forced to live in vans, tents, or their own cars, as much of the housing stock is being snapped up by investors to rent out to tourists.

In addition the influx in visitor numbers was putting pressure on public health and education systems that was leading to a deterioration in the quality of life for the islanders.

Campaigners also allege that excessive water consumption by the tourist sector is aggravating the already serious drought, which is threatening to put local cultivators of fruit and vegetable out of business.

Brian Harrison, secretary general of the environmental organisation la Asociación Salvar La Tejita in Tenerife, told the Daily Express that the only way to bring the runaway tourist sector back under control was to introduce a series of new taxes.

An overcrowded beach in Tenerife

Locals have become fed up with the influx of tourists (Image: Getty)

Airport tax and tourist tax

Mr Harrison said that “each visitor should pay an entry fee, to help offset the specific carbon footprint of their journey within Canarian territory” when they arrive at the airport, or at the port on the boat.

He thinks this should be on top of an obligatory general tourist tax. 

The environmental campaigner argued for a simple, obligatory tax per head per visitor. He pointed out that such a tax was already in force in the Balearic Islands and had resulted in “valuable funding” to compensate for the negative social and ecological impacts of tourism.

He added: “A higher tax brace (for example, 10€ per person per day), would naturally reduce the number or tourists. But with a 50 percent decrease in current visitor figures, the tax would result in approximately 325 million Euros per year, which could be invested in infrastructure and social programs.

“An even higher tax brace should be applied to ‘All Inclusive’ tourists.”

He claimed that tourists on “All Inclusive” packages typically spent little to no money in local businesses.

Mr Harrison also said he wants visitors to pay a daily tax for every vehicle they rent, saying the revenues raised could be used to improve public transport.

A view of Spanish buildings and trees in Tenerife

The island sees 6.2m visitors a year (Image: Getty)

Property taxes and private holiday letting restrictions

On top of these taxes, he also called for the authorities to impose tough regulations accompanied by vigorous enforcement on private holiday lettings.

“In any given area, the number of licenses granted for vacation letting should be strictly limited,” he explained

“Those who let on the black market should be fined accordingly, and their properties seized until the fines are fully paid.”

In tandem with renting restrictions, Mr Harrison wants to see a hiks in property taxes for non residents with over five years residency and for residents owning more than one property.

“This would stabilise the property market, thus allowing the younger generation access to affordable house purchases,” he argued.

The campaigner claimed that the new taxes would give the local government much needed funds to invest in the local communities and relieve social hardships.

He claimed that currently more than 36 percent of local residents are in poverty or at risk of social exclusion due to poverty.

Mr Harrison alleged that many of the hotel chains are registered in foreign countries (often in offshore fiscal zones), so very little tax revenue reaches the island’s tax agencies.

Anti-tourist graffiti has popped up across Tenerife

Tempers among locals are boiling over crating an anti-tourist backlash (Image: Canarian weekly)

Anti-tourism protests set to hit island

Protests at mass tourism are due to take place throughout the Canary Islands on April 20.

Under the slogan of “the Canary Islands have a limit”, rallies will be held simultaneously in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and La Palma.

Jaime Coello, president of one of the organisations behind the protests – the Telesforo Bravo Foundation – said the current system based on “mass tourism and the occupation of every inch of land” leads to “many environmental problems that are causing terrestrial and marine ecosystems to collapse” and which generate “very important social problems.”

View of rock formations in Benijo Beach, in the north coast of Tenerife

The stunning island is incredibly popular with Brits (Image: Getty)

Last year the Canary Islands smashed all previous records for international tourist arrivals. In total 14.1 million foreign passengers jetted out to the sunny islands, over a third of whom (5.7 million) were Brits. The number represents a 2 million increase on the year 2022. 6.2 million of those visited Tenerife alone.

Foreign tourists also spent over 20.3 billion euros in the region in 2023 and tourism’s direct and indirect contribution to the Canary Islands’ GDP stands at around 35 percent.

Business leaders have expressed concerns that the demonstrations will deter people from visiting the islands. Jorge Marichal, president of regional hotel association ASHOTEL, Spanish radio station COPE he sympathised with some of the issues raised by locals.

However, he added: “It pains me because people confuse the message. We don’t have to be anti-tourist. What we have to do is demand infrastructures in accordance with the tourist model that’s been chosen. And we have to understand that the tourist model has changed because of technology and Airbnb and the fact property owners have converted those properties into businesses with very lax regulation and that the growth in the amount of tourist accommodation has not been matched by the investment in infrastructure.”

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