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Canary Islands locals warn ‘things need to change’ as holiday hotspots ‘face collapse’

Canary Islands expert Nicola Quinn claims excess of Airbnb-style rentals and rising costs are pricing locals out of the market causing major issues in holiday spots Tenerife and Lanzarote

People relaxing and having fun on a crowded beach in Spain
People relaxing and having fun on a crowded beach in Spain (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Residents on the Canary Islands are warning “things need to change” after fears the region could “collapse” under the soaring tourism.

Last week, experts claimed the Spanish holiday hotspots were on the verge of complete destruction due to tourist numbers and an overwhelming amount of urban development The collection of islands includes British favourites for sunny trips away like Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria.

But, while one local claimed it was a “perfect storm” of bad planning and an unwillingness of locals, others disagree. One resident of the Canary Islands claims that the biggest issue facing those in the islands was caused by short-term holiday home rentals like Airbnbs.

Moving to Spain ‘s Canary Island expert Nicola Quinn has lived in Tenerife for the last 20 years and says illegal Airbnbs are making life on the island “unsustainable”. However, she maintains that the “collapse” of the Canaries is not all down to tourism and the building of large hotels is actually a good thing as it provides jobs for residents.

Speaking to Daily Star, Nicola explained: “Significant tourist growth across many of the Canary Islands has absolutely had a massive impact over the last decade. Huge resort complexes owned by international brands are popping up wherever there’s any room left. These hotels are great because they create jobs for locals and, in the case of high-end luxury hotels, they attract high-spending tourists.”

People partying in the Canary Islands
The Canaries have become a huge party destination in recent decades (Image: Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

She continued: “But these hotels are just one consequence of the Canaries’ boost in tourism. Due to the high demand for tourist accommodation and the lenient long-term rental laws that favour squatters, property owners would much rather rent their apartments to tourists on sites like Airbnb instead of locals. It’s safer for them and they can earn more money.

“This has caused an archipelago-wide housing crisis, where people who have jobs simply cannot afford to rent accommodation. Finding something as simple as a studio for under €1,000 (£856) per month is practically impossible, unless you can afford to pay for 12 months’ rent upfront.”

A view of a crowded beach in Gran Canaria
The islands become notoriously busy during the peak seasons (Image: ullstein bild via Getty Images)

The average salary in the Canary Islands is just £19,235, according to DANews, the second lowest of any area in Spain. After tax, that’s a monthly take home pay of £1,295 – meaning £856 would be 66% of the average resident’s take home wage. If the Canary Islands are unable to maintain staffing levels then the holiday market could come crashing down leaving Brits unable to visit the gorgeous archipelago.

Nicole added: “Putting a restriction on tourist accommodation in the Canaries is a solution that many people favour, but I have my reservations. Cutting down on illegal Airbnb rentals would be an excellent start. I’ve personally stayed in six private properties throughout the Canaries this year and only two had the official licence needed to offer short-term rentals.

Tourists swim in a pool at a holiday resort
The islands are struggling to cope with numbers but not all locals think tourists are the problem

“Implementing stronger laws that make it safer for property owners to rent their apartments long-term while providing additional social housing would have a huge impact, too. I understand that you can’t put these changes into effect overnight. But the current situation is unsustainable. When the islands are booming with tourists but the locals who make sure they’re well taken care of can’t afford to have a roof over their heads, things need to change.”

Expat John Parkes, a hotelier and bar owner who has lived in Tenerife since 1987, agrees it’s holiday rentals causing the rise in rent. John noted: “The biggest issue is space and infrastructure, the Canarian government has always attempted to control the quality of tourism by having a moratorium on new tourist accommodation being built, currently only five star accommodation is allowed to be built.

Packed beach filled with tourists

Beaches in popular Spanish hotpots like the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands have been getting busier and busier (Image: Getty Images)

“However they undermined this by legalising private rentals which are called Viviendas Vacacionales . This turned almost every property into a potential tourist bed overnight, reducing the availability of long term rentals for residents and pushing them out of town.”

The cost of holidays in the Canary Islands is also increasing alongside the rise in cost of living for locals. Airlines TUI, Jet2 and Ryanair have warned Brits about the effects of tourism on the Canary Islands – but they’ve also asked businesses on the islands to reconsider their pricing strategy.

Representatives from a number of airline shave issued a joint warning about a possible recession in the UK and Germany which may add to the decline of the Canary Islands. Delegates from Jet2, TUI and Ryanair at Fitur – the International Tourism Trade Fair – said that it’s important to exercise restraint when adjusting fares ahead of what they believe will be an uncertain year, reports Canarian Weekly. They added that a view of hotel prices is needed as economic challenges due to inflation have caused lesser purchasing power for UK, Scandinavian and German people.

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