The Canarians have decided to stand up and raise their voices to demand that the abundant wealth that tourism generates on the islands directly or indirectly be distributed in a more balanced and fair manner among its citizens. In the case of the Canary Islands, the social cry of the mobilizations is not a rejection of tourists, although there have been specific cases of graffiti under the slogan tourists go home, because they are aware that without this sector the islands will die. It was seen during the pandemic, when the islands’ economy came to a screeching halt and thousands of workers were expelled to the ERTE.

The Canarian demand is that the wealth of the sector reaches everyone and ends an imbalance that causes 0.3% of the islanders, barely 6,500 people, to accumulate almost half of the wealth of the islands – some 22.5 billion euros. while the rest survive with salaries that for 21% of workers are the legal minimum (SMI). Almost 200,000 people in the Canary Islands earn less than 1,200 euros per month, a little more than what they ask for renting a home in a community that has one of the most expensive shopping baskets in the State. On the islands there are many poor workers who have to resort to social assistance to make ends meet.

Tourism, the goose that lays the golden eggs of the islands, generates 40% of employment and 35.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP), which represents almost 20,000 million euros. It is also the sector that contributes the most in tax revenue to the public coffers, with nearly 3.5 billion euros, 37% of the total. However, the islanders are poorer today than two decades ago and have worse living conditions and well-being. Low salaries, pensions at the bottom of the State, the largest share of people who receive the SMI, and poverty – the AROPE rate is 33.8% – take their toll on a territory that should be at the head of the State in income due to the strength of its economy and the high volume of European aid it receives as an Outermost Region (ORP).

The GDP per capita of the Canary Islands, for example, has fallen by 8% between the years 2000 and 2021. If at the beginning of the century it was 20,703 euros, today it is 18,990 while at the national level it has increased by 19%, to the 25,498 euros. Income figures evolve in inverse proportion to the progress of its tourism sector. Last year, 16.2 million tourists arrived on the islands, 60% more than twenty years ago, when the number did not reach ten million. This year it could reach 19 million. Billing also continues the upward trend, in 2023 it was close to 20,000 million euros compared to 8,500 million in 2010.

The employers attribute the drop in income to the increase in population, by almost 500,000 people in twenty years, and above all to the drop in labor productivity. However, social mobilizations have served to put the low salaries on the islands on the table. The Canary Islands president himself, Fernando Clavijo, has called on businessmen to raise salaries, which are lower than the rest of the State, in all economic sectors. As a button shows: in a comparison of salary costs between the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, which are two regions with similar production models, the monthly difference is almost 300 euros in favor of the former in both industry, construction and services, which leads to Canary archipelago at the bottom of the State in salaries, according to INE data.