Canary Island locals voice SUPPORT for anti-tourist graffiti

  • Slogans telling tourists to go home appeared across parts of Tenerife, Spain 

Angry locals have made their feelings clear about the appearance of graffiti calling for tourists to ‘go home’ scrawled across parts of Tenerife in recent days.

‘Tourists go home’, ‘My misery your paradise’, and ‘Average salary in Canary Islands is 1,200€’ have been written on walls and benches in and around the town of Palm Mar, prompting fierce debate online.

The apparent reference to low pay comes as locals face rising rents pushed up by holiday rentals, and a rise in the cost of living brought on by inflation

The largest of Spain‘s Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, Tenerife has an economy largely built around tourism from northern Europe.

But the vandalism has proven divisive among residents, who have taken to community forums to express their views – some supporting the messaging as others ask whether creating a ‘lawless pigsty’ of graffiti helps.

‘We hate the 16millions visitors every year, the island [has] collapsed and we don’t have any place to go, like you. Go home!’ one resident wrote on Facebook.

‘Everything is for tourists… this is our prison paradise,’ wrote another. ‘Just try to understand us local people. If you don’t[,] go home!’

Critics said it was 'time to raise standards' and not accept disrespectful tourists

One described a 'prison paradise' as the economy has been transformed around tourists

'We hate the 16million visitors every year,' one user wrote, expressing their strong feelings

'MY MISERY YOUR PARADISE' : Islanders are apparently annoyed that people's holidays are ruining their home

'TOURIST GO HOME': Graffiti has appeared in the Canary Islands telling tourists to 'go home' and accusing holidaymakers of bringing 'misery' to locals

Critics of the vandalism on several community groups called for the graffiti to be cleaned up and said they had contacted the relevant authorities.

Responding to some of the support for the slogans, one user wrote: ‘You really think living in a lawless pigsty will improve your children’s future?’

Another said: ‘It would appear that by your actions, you have no respect for other peoples’ property.

‘Don’t you think it’s a bit cowardly to go round at night spraying messages rather than standing up and campaigning for your beliefs?’

Some voiced support for tourism – the island’s largest industry – with comments like ‘Without tourism there is no economy’ and ‘The whole of the Canary Islands couldn’t continue in any shape or form without tourists’

But others were critical of the kind of tourism Tenerife attracts.

‘Nothing justifies vandalism, but people are fed up. We want sustainable and respectful tourism that doesn’t harm us and adapts to us, not us to them,’ one wrote.

‘If you get my message congratulations you are welcome to MY land. If you don’t understand that there is a problem and you feel offended, it is because you are part of the problem.’

Another agreed: ‘Where I live in [the Balearic Islands] we don’t want the type of tourism that is around Tenerife Sur. They don’t contribute anything and give our islands a bad name. What is needed is better tourism not what we have and is getting worse each year.’ 

Tourism to the Canary Islands has steadily increased in recent years. Last year, Minister of Tourism and Employment for the region said the archipelago had received ‘an influx of tourists of more than 16mn and a tourist turnover of 20,000mn euros’.

Presenting the figures as a benefit, she said: ‘To these good data is added the positive evolution of employment indicators of tourism grew by more than six per cent and registered unemployment was reduced by more than nine per cent compared to December 2022.’

Tenerife itself, the largest of the islands, welcomed 5.6mn visitors last year, making it the most popular destination of Spain’s holiday isles – ahead of Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

British tourists accounted for more than a third of the 14.1mn foreign travellers who travelled to the Canary Islands last year in total, according to The Olive Press.

Data shows tourism to Tenerife rose steadily through the 2000s before taking a dip after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. With the exception of the pandemic, tourism has generally risen since, led overwhelmingly by holidaymakers from Britain.

While this comes with benefits for the economy, residents face more competition for accommodation and inflated prices, and live in an economy designed around the needs of tourists. 

‘The price increases are the problem, for an house, apartment and some restaurants are only for tourists,’ one user wrote sympathetically. ‘The salary is low, poor. I have worked there. I understand the reaction.’

According to local outlet Canarian Weekly, many residents and environmental groups believe the government is taking dependence on tourism too far and ruining the island for those who call it home.

Due to the high level of tourism, rent has increased, as demand is so high to keep up with the number of holiday guests.

There is said to be a lot of traffic due to the high volume of cars.

On Friday, there was even a water emergency due to a lack of reserves, illustrating the strain that tourism is putting on the society.

It comes as politicians in Spain lobby to introduce new rules that would see bars and restaurants close earlier to protect workers in the tourism sector.

'AVERAGE SALARY IN CANARY ISLANDS 1,200 EUROS' : The 'average salary' marking is in reference to the low pay seen on the Island in comparison to rising rents, increasing interest rates, and the cost of living due to inflation rates

'TOURIST, RESPECT MY LAND': Islanders are said to be angry at the build-up of traffic from tourists

Yolanda Díaz, the country’s Minister of Employment and Social Economy, faces backlash over the new proposals that would see Spain move more in step with European closing times by imposing limits on when hospitality businesses can operate.

‘A country that has its restaurants open at one in the morning is not reasonable,’ she told the Spanish Congress on Monday. ‘It is crazy to try to continue extending hours until I don’t know what time.’

The suggestion was shot down by representatives of the hospitality and tourism industry, who said Spain thrived on its unique offering – and that closing early would only benefit Spain’s competitors in the tourism business.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the president of the Community of Madrid, commented on a video of Díaz’s speech on X, formerly Twitter: ‘Spain has the best nightlife in the world, with streets full of life and freedom. And that also provides jobs.

‘They want us puritans, materialists, socialists, without soul, without light and without restaurants because they feel like it. Bored and at home.’

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