Tenerife war on British expats with so many that locals fear they’ll become ‘extinct’

Alex Thompson By Alex Thompson Jun10,2024

A local Tenerife activist has claimed the island’s native population faces “extinction” if the “colonising” British expats do not stop moving to the Canaries.

Atterni Rivero Quintero was one of the 120,000 protesters who took to the streets on Saturday to raise concerns about over tourism and call for limits on foreign home ownership.

The local activist told the Express she’d been forced to leave her hometown of El Medano in the South of Tenerife because it had been overwhelmed by outsiders. 

“I felt like a foreigner in my own village,” she explained. “I didn’t feel well there. There were too many people and a lack of parking. The people originally from the village were gone, there were too many new faces and nobody said hello.”

Atterni says she had no choice but to move to a remote farmhouse high in the mountains of Tenerife because tourists and foreigners were invading so many of the areas which had previously been where locals lived.

She claimed if nothing was done to check the rampant demand from outsiders for places to rent and buy natives would be driven off the island entirely.

“If there is no change now, people will have to leave,” she continued. 

“They are no longer just colonising the coasts, but also the centre of the island. If nothing changes, we will have to leave. Like species with climate change, we will become extinct.”

It comes after tens of thousands of people marched on the capital of Santa Cruz on Saturday, April 20, in a defeaning call to crackdown on overtourism. Around 120,000 Canarians turned out to voice their anger at the influx tourist numbers inflicting irreparable damage to the environment. They claim overtourism is leading to poverty among the islanders due to low pay and rising property prices.

The El Medano native said her own experiences were a clear demonstration of the reasons for the frustration which had sparked giant protests.

She added: “We don’t want the destruction of natural places to continue. So much tourism and so many new residents are building new houses and destroying nature. 

“The protests now are connected to everything I have experienced, this gentrification. I can’t live in my village anymore because there is a lot of tourism. It’s not quiet here anymore.”

Quintero said she yearns for Tenerife to return to the place it was when she was growing up.

“My grandparents grew tomatoes in El Medano and they were able to buy land there,” the activist said. 

“I had a very happy childhood, very close to nature, to the sea, to the mountains, we knew where to swim depending on the tide, we knew what the sea was like depending on the moon. It was a very nice childhood and we were very few people.”

“It makes me feel very bad that people have to leave El Medano. I would love to be able to go back. We could have the same social fabric in El Medano as we have [in her new home of] Granadilla.”

Quintero said the attitude of tourists towards the natural world was not the same as the residents and this angers her. 

She continued: “The Canaries are not known for their architecture or for their museums; it is known worldwide for nature. It is on the podium. Hawaii, Galapagos and the Canary Islands. 

“[We should] let tourists come to see that, but have some respect for nature. I work in a natural park and there is always disrespect.”

Asked what message she would send to the many British tourists travelling to Tenerife each year Quintero replied: “If you come to visit Tenerife, do it knowing the reality that we Canary Islanders are living. 

“Don’t buy from places that don’t belong to Canary Islanders, don’t stay in hotels or housing that are not truly local. 

“Right now we don’t need anyone to come, but if they do come, do it knowing all that. And don’t buy a house or stay here.

“I hope there will be a real change so that we don’t face extinction. 

“When I see tourists, because there are so many of them, they start to annoy me. They use the Canaries as a TV show, as a stage. People live here, I am working, people here work.”

Alex Thompson

By Alex Thompson

Alex is an award-winning journalist with a passion for investigative reporting. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Alex has covered a wide range of topics from politics to entertainment. Known for in-depth research and compelling storytelling, Alex's work has been featured in major news outlets around the world.

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2 thoughts on “Tenerife war on British expats with so many that locals fear they’ll become ‘extinct’”
  1. As a local Tenerife resident, I completely understand Atterni’s concerns. The rapid influx of British expats is indeed threatening the cultural identity and environment of our beautiful island. If measures are not taken to control the situation, the native population will undoubtedly suffer. It’s crucial for authorities to address this issue before it’s too late.

  2. As a local Tenerife resident myself, I can relate to Atterni’s concerns. The rapid influx of British expats is indeed threatening the unique culture and lifestyle of the island. If this trend continues unchecked, the native population may truly face the risk of becoming ‘extinct.’

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