TUI boss says operators aren’t to blame for Canary Islands protests

By Lisa James
Home » TUI boss says operators aren’t to blame for Canary Islands protests

TUI Group CEO Sebastian Ebel has said the operator is concerned about recent anti-tourism protests in the Canary Islands but says organised package holiday operators are not to blame.

Sebastian told Germany’s travel trade publication FVW he takes the residents and protesters’ concerns seriously and is open to working with authorities on the islands to help alleviate the problem of a lack of affordable housing, including making ‘appropriate investments’ if required.

Recently, thousands of people across Spain have protested against mass tourism in the Canary Islands.

The organisers say they’re not against tourists, but claim mass tourism is creating numerous issues, putting pressure on limit resources – including water, transport and housing.

Sebastian said there are too few residential apartments because more living space is being offered as vacation rentals on online platforms such as Airbnb, which he described as ‘largely unregulated’.

“This not only reduces the supply of living space, but also drives up the prices for available apartments,” he said. “The fact that local politicians have not yet taken action here is driving people onto the streets.

“What worries us is that unregulated tourism is causing people to take to the streets and worry about their future. For a long time, individual holidays in holiday apartments were considered particularly cool, but they pose great challenges for the islands.”

He said TUI is in ‘constant contact’ with the regional Government of the Canary Islands and has offered to ‘discuss where we as TUI can make a stronger contribution’.

He added: “During the high season, more policemen, nurses, bus drivers are needed on the islands. They often come from the mainland. They require housing. For example, we have discussed with our Greek partners whether we should participate in local construction projects and create apartments for our employees and also for the local population.”

“In Germany, we are familiar with the model of social housing, where apartments are built at reduced rates and rented out at fixed rents. This can relieve the pressure on the free housing market. If politicians support us – for example, by making land available – we are prepared to make appropriate investments. These are models that we are happy to discuss for the Canary Islands as well.

“On behalf of TUI, I can therefore say that we see ourselves as part of the solution and are happy to contribute to the dialogue.”

Meanwhile, six activists who began a hunger strike on Tenerife last month in protest against mass tourism have called off their action after 20 days, saying officials have shown ‘zero interest’ in their stance.

See also: Should Brits still holiday in the Canary Islands?

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