'We're not the Ibiza of the north': Spain's Cantabria says no to mass tourism

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
'We're not the Ibiza of the north': Spain's Cantabria says no to mass tourism
Protesters hold a banner reading "Cantabria defends itself, let's save Loredo and Langre". Photo: Cantabristas

Thousands of people in the Spanish region of Cantabria have protested against a planned hotel resort being promoted as “the Ibiza of the north”, showcasing northern Spain's fears of the negative consequences of mass tourism.


Between 3,000 and 8,000 protesters marched between the Cantabrian towns of Loredo and Langre on Saturday to voice their opposition to a huge hotel complex planned nearby on the Cantabrian coastline, in Ribamontán al Mar, about 30 kilometres from the capital Santander.

Local authorities argue 3,000 people took part in the demo, while organisers say it was 8,000. 


They carried banners such as “Cantabria defends itself”, “no to the huge resort” and “we don’t want to be the Ibiza of the north”, in reference to the marketing slogan the hotel’s developers have reportedly used to promote it. 

"Cantabrian society has taken sides in the public debate on overtourism, positioning itself against turning Cantabria into 'the Ibiza of the north'," protest organisers stated.

Hotel group AB Capital, headquartered in Mallorca, aims to replicate the huge resorts found in the Balearics and Spain’s Mediterranean coast in the cooler (but increasingly warmer) northern Cantabrian coastline.

According to local daily El Diario Montañés they’ve already expressed interest in buying a huge plot of land in Ribamontán al Mar, which is between Loredo and Langre. 


In fact, Ribamontán al Mar’s mayor told the newspaper that at least three other developers are eyeing the same 7450,000 sqm plot with the aim of turning it into a resort, as half of the land is buildable.

There has even been talk of turning it into a huge golf course and resort with 350 rooms.

For local political group Cantabristas, the protest showed that the community has taken "a step forward to defend itself against those who want to destroy" the territory to "fill their pockets".

"What good is urban speculation and tourist overcrowding if we Cantabrians have problems accessing housing, suffer the consequences of this overcrowding and if tourism only offers precarious employment?" Cantabristas secretary general Paulu Lobete told the crowd.

Cantabristas is planning to organise further protests if the project isn’t called off, and urged other people in the region to take part due to the property price speculation it could cause throughout the territory.

The case of the potential mega-resort in Ribamontán al Mar showcases the concerns many people in Spain’s northern coastal regions - Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country - have when they see the consequences mass tourism has brought to the country’s warmer less rainy coastal areas.

Northern Spain is becoming increasingly popular among national tourists in particular as the extreme heat much of the rest of the country suffers during the summer becomes increasingly unbearable every year, pushing many to the cooler, calmer and greener haven that is el norte.

A rise in tourists has already resulted in a spike in holiday apartments and prices overall in Spain’s northern regions.

The protest in Cantabria is the first clear example of rejection of the mass tourism model in the less developed and populated areas of Spain.

The Canary Islands held mass protests against their tourism model in April, and locals in Málaga, Mallorca and Ibiza have planned demonstrations for similar reasons in May and June.




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