Marichal: ‘Those who blame tourism for the problems in the Canary Islands are wrong’

  • Canarian Weekly
  • 17-04-2024
  • National
  • Photo Credit: Ashotel
Marichal: ‘Those who blame tourism for the problems in the Canary Islands are wrong’

There is growing concern that the demonstrations on April 20th, under the slogan "Canarias tiene un límite" (Canaries have a limit), might lose focus and harm the image of the tourism sector on the islands, potentially being misinterpreted by the media, especially the British and European ones.

The president of Ashotel and Cehat (the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodations), Jorge Marichal, said yesterday that he understands the protest as a social anger towards a possible loss of quality of life and services. However, he believes those who scapegoat tourism for all the ills plaguing the Canary Islands are mistaken, referring to a lack of political management.

"In recent decades, the population has increased much more than tourism. The 600,000 additional people living in the Canary Islands have had a significant impact on the territory and infrastructure. That's why we feel like everything is about to explode," he states. "What needs to happen is investment in infrastructure, roads, housing, water pipelines, and sustainability. But if we don't work on these... it's no surprise the situation has reached this point."

Marichal calls for seriousness from politicians who are part of the problem and are adding fuel to the fire, such as with the proposal to implement an ecotax, which he believes solves nothing. "Political and legal seriousness is needed. Many politicians are jumping on this bandwagon out of fear it might affect their votes. The tourism sector cannot be the scapegoat for all of this because it's not to blame," he said.

"It's not perfect, but the emergence of holiday home rentals has given the impression that anything goes, and that's the problem. Everything must be studied, but if they do it right, they will conclude that an ecotax is not necessary in the Canary Islands. If we saw how much money is returned to Europe due to funds not being executed on time, we would be surprised. The problem is not money."

Marichal believes that tourism has been crucial in improving social services and responds to those demanding higher wages for their workers. "It's clear that I have to negotiate contracts with the unions, and with them, we've maintained social peace for over 40 years," he notes, adding that wages were even increased during the pandemic.

Finally, Marichal believes that there are many things to correct, especially the need to manage and improve basic infrastructure, implement practical housing policies, enhance the quality of life for citizens, and alleviate the sense of frustration present in part of the Canary Islands population.