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German travel giant says takes overtourism ‘very seriously’

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched across Spain's Canary Islands in April to demand changes to the model of mass tourism, which they say is overwhelming the Atlantic archipelago
Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched across Spain's Canary Islands in April to demand changes to the model of mass tourism, which they say is overwhelming the Atlantic archipelago - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File Brandon Bell
Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched across Spain's Canary Islands in April to demand changes to the model of mass tourism, which they say is overwhelming the Atlantic archipelago - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File Brandon Bell

German travel giant TUI said Wednesday it takes protests against overtourism, like recent demonstrations in the Canary Islands, very seriously, while arguing that its business model was not contributing to the problem.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched across Spain’s Canary Islands in April to demand changes to the model of mass tourism, which they say is overwhelming the Atlantic archipelago.

Last year, some 16 million people visited the Canary Islands, more than seven times its population of around 2.2 million. 

“We take that very, very seriously,” TUI chief Sebastian Ebel told journalists.

However Ebel said that TUI, which offers hotel bookings, chartered flights and cruises across the world, isn’t responsible for rising housing prices for locals.

It “has nothing to do with our package tourism because every customer we bring to the islands has a bed in our hotel and doesn’t take away beds,” he said.

Ebel added that many of the company’s employees are not from the island itself but staying in homes “which we have built”. 

And as for the issue of how many tourists are too many for a site, Ebel said that is “completely up to the local population and their elected politicians to define that”. 

We “support all the actions which are be taken to reduce the burden on the people,” Ebel said.

That includes the new five-euro ($5.41) entrance fee introduced by Venice for daytrippers, said Ebel, stressing that “we’re very supportive on that”. 

Ebel’s remarks came as the German group posted a 16 percent growth in revenues for the first three months of the year to reach a record 3.6 billion euros.

The group, which was brought to its knees by the coronavirus pandemic, has seen a strong recovery in tourism since 2022.

AFP
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