The excuses to clear the ball from the ecotax are all fallacious. They tell us it would drive away tourists. Fake. Have visitors stopped going to the Balearic Islands for this rate? No, it has not been like that
Quality tourism is one that visits places that respect themselves. The phrase is from José Saramago, whose birth will be 100 years old on November 16, and who not only chose this land as his own, but was one of the great defenders of the preservation and sustainability of our territory.
In these summer months we have seen barbarities, images that have made our hair stand on end. Tourists bathing in the Jameos del Agua, influencers looking for selfies or riding their mountain bike through protected natural spaces or graffiti in the midst of cultural heritage and archaeological sites.
It is urgent to reverse this trend. The implementation of an eco-tax in the Archipelago is a necessity that we cannot continue to delay any longer. Just as it is scientifically proven that the exploitation of the planet has a limit, we know that the Canary Islands is a finite territory, both in the water that we can desalinate, as well as in the mobile fleet that we can support, and in the tourists that we can welcome.
Our land is facing, according to a report by Ben Magec, a “water collapse”. There are currently 434 points of discharge into the sea, of which only 28% have authorization. In other words, two thirds of discharges are not authorized.
Noemí Santana, Counselor for Social Rights, Equality, Diversity and Youth of the Government of the Canary Islands. /
Tourists spend twice as much water per day as a resident during their stay. In fact, a visitor consumes an average of 289 liters a day, for the 142 liters that a local consumer spends.
The figures are staggering. One in five flights that land in Spain do so in the Archipelago. If only international flights to the Canary Islands are taken into account, half of the total carbon footprint of a year on the islands can be attributed to them. And all this in a context in which we have the lowest wages in Spain, high rates of poverty, job insecurity and, above all, the unequal distribution of wealth.
In the Canary Islands we live in a constant paradox. The increase in tourist visits to our land is celebrated as a great success, this is also coupled with hotel rates that are increasingly higher. However, this does not have repercussions, as the data show us, in improving the living conditions of the social majority of the Canary Islands.
According to a report by the Foundation for Applied Economics Studies (Fedea), the richest 1% of the Canarian population concentrates more income -5.52% of the region's total- than the poorest 20%. This difference between the two extremes is the largest in the entire country.
The time of the ecotax
Podemos has always been a champion and defender of the implementation of an eco-tax: this is how we defended it before our government partners and this is how it was signed in the Pact of Flowers.
Even so, we agreed to postpone his arrival, being aware of the havoc caused by Covid in the tourism sector, due to the absolute unemployment that we experienced for many months. Not only did we respond through financial support from the public to the private sector during the most difficult times, but we knew how to read that it was not the time for that debate.
But what now? The volume of national tourists that the archipelago receives at the moment already exceeds pre-covid levels. The beaches of the Canary Islands are full again and the tourist accommodation on the islands have posted the 'everything busy' sign. The tourism sector, which has benefited so much from government aid and ERTEs, must now demonstrate its responsibility and commit to sustainable tourism.
There are those who do not even want to hear about the ecotax, but it is an unavoidable debate. Sooner or later it will apply. Whether the powerful like it or not. The Canary Islands cannot continue like this.
Neither the Canary Coalition nor the Popular Party will want it to go ahead. They are very clear about who they defend in Parliament and for whom they work. And they don't bother to hide it. The excuses to clear the ball from the ecotax are all fallacious. They tell us it would drive away tourists. Fake. Have visitors stopped going to the Balearic Islands for this rate? No, it has not been. This community, which is in the same country as
Canary Islands, and which is dedicated to tourism, exactly like us, even has a greater dependence on this economic sector, 10 points more than GDP. And it turns out that in the Balearic Islands the salaries are higher, and the unemployment data and the quality of employment are better than those of our land. The ecotax has been successfully implemented in the Balearic Islands for years, thanks to a progressive government pact.
Have tourists stopped going to Paris, Lisbon, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Prague or Barcelona because ecotax is paid? No way.
We are talking about the most visited and crowded European tourist destinations. The ecotax would not reduce tourists or make them spend less. The latter is also not real. We see how in the Balearic Islands, since the implementation of the eco-tax, tourist spending has increased. This rate would affect the large hotel companies, which would see their enormous income reduced insignificantly.
And they would distribute a small part of the wealth they are generating for themselves, exploiting a heritage that belongs to everyone: our sun, our beaches and our natural landscapes. It is logic and justice. The important thing is to do pedagogy and inform our population of what is happening and why wealth is not being generated in the Canary Islands that has an impact on everyone.
The summary is simple: there are those who are taking advantage and there are those who are protecting them. And the damage is not only the unfair distribution of wealth, but also the environmental impact or impact on public services, which the high numbers of tourists mean for the Canary Islands. One euro per night will not reduce the number of tourists, however, it will allow us to raise and generate a fund to face climate challenges: close thermal power stations, promote renewable energies, manage the integral water cycle, reduce and waste treatment, promotion of cultural heritage, investment in R&D, elements that also make it possible to offset CO2 emissions from aircraft and the ecological footprint left by our visitors. Again paraphrasing one of our most illustrious neighbors, 'tourism yes, but of quality'. So let us begin to respect ourselves and love our land, so that those who come from outside respect us.