Too many visit Spain

By | Category: Travel destinations

Lanzarote – sun and scenery attracts us. What will deter us?

On this, the busiest getaway weekend of the year, the biggest single destination for us will be mainland Spain, the Canaries or the Balearics. But will this continue to be the case?

Last weekend, the Spanish newspaper, El Pais, carried interviews with a few influential tourism heads suggesting that they want to cap the number of visitors visiting their destinations.

The president of the Canary Islands Fernando Clavijo is quoted as saying that popular vacation destination needed to protect its natural resources from being used up by tourists and that It had t be with a cap on the millions of tourists visiting. He was concerned by the impact of tourism on the environment and the social effects of what tourism might leave for future generations. In  a story in yesterday’s The Guardian, Clavijo, didn’t quite say the same thing as he pointed out the importance of tourism. The president of the Balearics responsible for economics and tourism, Biel Barceló, was quoted as presumably saying that too much tourism put more pressure on the islands given the resources that were available.

The Canaries have a population of 2.1 million people but host six times more visitors than inhabitants; the Balearics host fourteen times more than their population.

Neither man is suggesting doing away with tourism as that would kill both areas of Spain economically – just controlling it, but how?

One solution is a tax, cloaked under the name of an “eco-tax” but that will just raise money for the Spanish treasury and probably not deter many.

If the Canaries, the Balearics and even Catalonia are serious about amending the impacts of mass tourism, the only way I can see is to introduce substantial taxes so that large numbers stay away. But then locals will see the effects on their services as they have to cough up the extra cash that politicians will want to use to spend on pet projects. One area will cave in to be followed by another. Benidorm would probably have remained a sleepy little village but for tourism. Have the economic benefits of mass tourism by the likes of you and me changed it for the better or the worse? Most there would say for the better for it enabled it to withstand much of the economic downturn of the last few years. The same could be said for the Canaries and the Balearics.

It was the mainland, the places where there is less overseas tourism that suffered. So how do you reconcile the need for overseas visitors with preserving a preferred lifestyle.

That has taxed greater minds than most of us and I don’t think a satisfactory answer is to be found apart from stopping tourism before it starts.


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