Tourists stroll through the historic centre of Malaga city. SUR
Mass tourism concerns in Spain following protests in the Canary Islands and on the Costa del Sol

Mass tourism concerns in Spain following protests in the Canary Islands and on the Costa del Sol

The national Exceltur organisation wants there to be a roadmap detailing ways popular Spanish destinations can handle waves of visitors without them impacting on local residents

Pilar Martínez


Tuesday, 23 April 2024


With the peak summer season just around the corner and recent protests in the Canary Islands and on the Costa del Sol demanding an end to mass visitor arrivals, a national tourism body has weighed in and called for there to be clear limits.

Spain's Alliance for Excellence in Tourism (Exceltur) said "tourism has a limit" and is calling for a roadmap which sets out a transition towards more sustainable tourism models. The group said a roadmap will be able to detail ways to contain mass tourism, without it interfering with the lives of locals, whilst still promoting tourism in Spain, which is a huge driver for the economy throughout the country, Andalucía region and across Malaga province.

Exceltur executive vice-president José Luis Zoreda spoke out against a sharp increase in private tourist rentals: "It is a problem that generates social boredom due to the trivialisation of public spaces and makes it hard for locals to find housing".

In order to move towards what they call "the tourism we all want", Exceltur said strategies must be undertaken and management models considered such as listening to the demands of residents and understanding the capacity of resources in popular destinations. "It is necessary to opt for development strategies that are more socially acceptable and sustainable," Zoreda said. A new model should also consider "tourist mobility where collective transport and shared mobility services are a priority", he added.

Zoreda also said it is crucial to consider "the growing public rejection of the increasingly difficult coexistence between tourists and residents in certain overcrowded destinations and the uncontrolled growth of tourist housing". Among his list of concerns that need addressing is a need for a plan to upgrade outdated destinations, which include some key coastal resorts, as well as ways of attracting and retaining talent at all professional levels, with improved job conditions that include not only salaries but also incentives to motivate workers to feel proud of belonging to the industry.


Six priority actions are set out within this framework, pointing out the need to analyse reasons why improvement works could be delayed or halted, unforeseen growth in tourist numbers, or the impact of global crisis' - such as the situation in the Middle East - on travel.

The plan focuses on holiday rentals and supports the government's initiative on housing, hoping "it will lead to an agreement and generalised coordination between the government and the regions to enact a new state legislative umbrella, which, given the existing legal loopholes, will allow for better regulation and empowerment of the regions to tackle the lack of control of tourist rental properties".

Zoreda also wants, as a priority, the ministry to promote and support initiatives and campaigns kicked off by the private sector to address residents' complaints. "This would not only allow the tourism sector to be better viewed, but would also help to avoid and redirect some public and private sector policies that could cause some of these public complaints".

Meanwhile, Zoreda said it is still important to promote public-private tourism governance models for more professionalised tourism management. The acceleration of the process of drawing up the 2030 tourism strategy is a matter of urgency, Zoreda added. "It must be based on a much clearer and more desirable vision and objectives to be achieved, he said, pointing out the tourism sector's strategy in Spain "does not walk alone and must be supported and coordinated with a vision of state, in the face of the growing socio-economic challenges".

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