Plea for British tourists over fears of cancellation of holidays in Tenerife and Lanzarote

Canary Islands tourism chiefs have urged Britons not to cancel their holidays as anti-tourism protesters continue to rally against the industry. Now Jessica de Leon, head of regional tourism, emphasizes that tourists are still welcome on the islands.

Thousands took part in protests in the Canary Islands on Saturday to call for an urgent rethink of the Spanish archipelago’s tourism sector. But Jessica told The Telegraph: “It is still safe to visit the Canary Islands, and we are happy to welcome you.”

She added that she understands the frustration, but that it was “unfair to blame tourism.” Fernando Clavijo, the president of the Canary Islands, echoed Leon, saying some activists “smell of tourist phobia.”

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“People who come here and spend their money should not be criticized or insulted. We are playing with our main source of income,” Clavijo said. Gabriel Gonzalez, a councilor for the far-left Podemos party in the Tenerife resort of Adeje, responded: “We feel like we don’t live from tourism; it is tourism that lives from us.”

Nestor Marrero, secretary of ATAN, an ecology group in Tenerife, added: “The number of tourists must be reduced. We should be aiming for higher quality visitors, not people in all-inclusive resorts who don’t leave the hotel or interact with the locals and our culture in any way.”

Last year, 13.9 million people visited the islands, which have a population of 2.2 million. Figures from Spain’s National Statistical Institute show that 33.8 percent of people in the Canary Islands are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, the highest rate for any region except Andalusia.