Tenerife: Spain holidays and second homes at risk after Santa Cruz protests and post-Brexit 90-day rule change

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Some significant new rules appear to be squeezing British tourists out of Spain

A post-Brexit rule shift is causing British citizens who own second or holiday home properties in Tenerife to "abandon the island."

Some holidaymakers who used to spend months in their Canary Island homes are now selling up because new rules limit UK nationals' time in Spain to 90 days. Tensions between foreigners living in Tenerife and locals have been rising over the past few months.

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Over the weekend (20 April), approximately 120,000 people staged a protest in the streets of Santa Cruz, demanding a cap on the number of tourists and declaring that their cherished islands were "not for sale".

But Lisa Robertson, the manager of Jags Bar, a Scottish bar in Playa de las Americas, has said that British people who would’ve usually split their time between the UK and Spain are already leaving the country.

Due to new regulations implemented following Brexit, UK nationals are required to leave Spain after 90 days.

Because of this, people who own second homes are having to travel between the two countries more frequently, a financial cost that many are finding hard to afford.

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Robertson told the Express: “I know at least four people who have sold their houses over here because they can't come out as much as they used to be able to. There’s one couple in particular who used to do eight months [in the Canaries] and then six months in Scotland.

“But because they can only stay for 90 days they just sold their holiday home.” Robertson added that the atmosphere at her popular drinking location had changed due to the number of Scots who would usually have frequented the bar drastically decreasing.

“I knew a lot of people who would come [to Tenerife] for months at a time and be here every night,” she said. “I haven't seen them [since the rules changed]. There are lots of people like that. It’s quite hard.”

“It’s also affected staffing as well. If you speak to any British bar on the island they are screaming for staff.”

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A noticeably older crowd can be seen pulling pints at Tenerife's many British pubs, as these establishments can only hire those swho meet the requirements of having Spanish citizenship, or had the legal right to work in Spain prior to Brexit.

“The younger ones can only come for three months and three months only,” Robertson said. “I can’t take them on.”

British residents of Tenerife have also been badly impacted by the island's skyrocketing rental costs, another primary complaint voiced by demonstrators.

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“I know families of four who’ve moved to one-bedroom flats because it’s cheaper,” Robertson added. “They’ve been in places for years, but the landlords have put the rent up so much they can’t afford it.”

Earlier this month, UK holidaymakers threatened to “boycott” Spain over its new “£97 rule” brought in by Spanish lawmakers requiring tourists to prove they have €113.40 (£97) on hand every day if they visit.

It applies to both the mainland, and the Canary and Balearic islands. The new £97 rule means a family of four staying a week in Spain will have to show they have at least £2,716 at hand, according to the Spanish government.

A ‘different kind’ of tourist?

But some have slammed the British press for its coverage on the anti-tourism protests sweeping across the country, including Dave Gainford, who runs successful travel and trips company, TravelOnWorld.

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He said Canary Island locals “definitely want British people here but I don’t think they want your ‘typical’ Brits abroad”.

There have been reports that UK holidaymakers are not welcome in the Canary Islands, as tourists were met with anti-tourist graffiti in Tenerife during the Easter holidays.

Local residents say they are “fed up” of British tourists who only “drink cheap beer, lie in the sun and eat low-quality food.”

Gainford, who has lived in the Canary Islands for 20 years, said: “I must stress I asked people on the mainland of Spain as well as German people, Dutch and people from Sweden if they are getting the same reports [ of tourists not being welcome and] nobody had heard anything.”

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He added that he “struggled to find any person who lives and works on the island that in some way doesn’t benefit from tourism.”

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