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Furious Spanish locals hit back as holiday hotspots become ‘theme parks for tourists’

by Staff

Locals in Spain’s Costa del Sol are up in arms as their beloved shops and buildings are being replaced by tourist rentals. The Spanish region is part of Andalusia in the south of the country and boasts gorgeous golden beaches, temperatures that average 30C in August and popular hotspots like Malaga and Marbella.

We Brits flock to the region in droves each summer for great value holidays – TUI offers stays from £224pp – to bask in the sun and sip on Spanish wine and cheap beer. Unfortunately, it seems that Costa del Sol residents are growing more and more fed up with the tourism industry and the removal of amenities for tourist accommodation., reports the Express.

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The situation has sparked outrage, particularly in Malaga, where nearly 40 commercial sites have been given the green light to become holiday homes in just one year. This comes at a time when young Spaniards are struggling with a housing crisis, unable to afford homes in larger cities – the problem is not solely focused on the Costa del Sol, but stretches as far as Tenerife and Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.

Bathers and tourists enjoy a day on the beach of La Malagueta, Malaga(Image: Europa Press via Getty Images)

One Malaga local, Fran Campos, shared a viral photo of a former noodle bar now turned into a tourist rental, captioning it “Malaga’s new reality”. He also revealed that iconic buildings were disappearing, replaced by yet more tourist accommodations much to the anger of residents. A popular dance clothing store, Lola Denis, is also set to be converted into a hotel after 36 years in business.

One local from Malaga shared: “I’m from Malaga and I never visit the centre when I see my family because I do not recognise the place where I grew up, such a shame.” Another person added: “My whole neighbourhood is the same, they grow like mushrooms… it’s destroying the neighbourhood.” A third resident complained: “They are turning our cities into theme parks for tourists”.

Malaga had its best tourism year ever in 2023. Last year, a whopping 14 million holidaymakers flocked to the Costa del Sol, which is even more than the previous record year of 2019. Francisco Salado, Malaga’s provincial authority head and head of Turismo Costa del Sol, said that many of these visitors were from other countries rather than from within Spain. International stays in hotels and tourist flats in Malaga have apparently jumped up by nearly 10% from 2022.

A number of holiday hotspots have been suffering due to an influx of tourist accommodation which out-price locals who can then not find anywhere affordable to rent. Expat John Parkes, a hotelier and bar owner who has lived in Tenerife since 1987 noted: “The biggest issue is space and infrastructure, the Canarian government, legalised private rentals which are called Viviendas Vacacionales .

The busy beach packed with tourists in Marbella, Costa del Sol(Image: Getty Images)

“This turned almost every property into a potential tourist bed overnight, reducing the availability of long term rentals for residents and pushing them out of town. It’s made residential accommodation hard to find for workers .” Locals in top tourist areas like the Canary Islands and even Amsterdam have urged holidaymakers to “stay away” in the hopes of protecting their homes and infrastructure.

Over in Majorca, a group of angry locals in a popular holiday hotspot have left messages on the beach telling tourists to ‘go home’ as they try to keep the area free from holidaymakers. False signs warning tourists in English of rockfalls and jellyfish have also been spotted.

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