Tiny Canary island to start charging tourists to even step foot on shore

A "secret" island in the Canaries is to charge tourists for the right to visit due to fears that it is being spoilt by thousands of sightseers.

The Isla de Lobos is just a short boat ride from the better known holiday destination of Fuerteventura and is thought to have a history stretching back to Roman times.

It is less than five square kilometres and has only a handful of facilities but at one stage, became so fashionable that protest groups were counting as many as 2,000 tourists on Saturdays and Sundays.

Visitor numbers also shoot up at Christmas and Easter .

Furious environmentalists said many of the boats being used to transport holidaymakers were illegal and it was becoming "an obligation" for anyone staying on Fuerteventura to visit Lobos free of charge but without making any sort of contribution in return.

The tiny island is rich in marine biodiversity and endemic species of plants and birds but apart from that, campaigners say there is nothing for tourists to do except "picture opportunities" which are ruining it.

Island leaders had already slapped a limit of no more than 200 visitors at any one time but this was being ignored.

Now, the restrictions are to be tightened up even further, together with a charge for anyone who wants to step foot on the protected land.

Fuerteventura’s local government has confirmed the tighter controls over the number of visitors will come into force from the first fortnight of 2019.

"With the 200 limit in mind, the aim is to guarantee the preservation of this unique space and natural park," said a spokesman. "Maintaining the Isla de Lobos is very expensive for us."

He also confirmed they were processing a tax ordinance that will allow charging a small fee for access and enjoyment of the islet of Lobos.

The collection will go to conservation work, cleaning and monitoring of this natural space. At the moment, the fee hasn’t been decided.

In 2019, there will be two archaeological excavations on two sites on the islands including the beach of La Calera, also known as Concha, where there is evidence that the Romans might have collected molluscs for purple dye.

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