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The Spanish island of Lanzarote wants fewer British visitors.
The popular holiday destination in the Canary Island has declared itself a “tourist-saturated area” and is now considering ways to attract tourists that spend more money.
The new strategy is a bid to “reduce dependence on the British market”. Instead want to attract holidaymakers from Germany, the Netherlands and France.
Why does Lanzarote want less Brits?
More than 50 per cent of visitors to the Island currently come from the United Kingdom, totally 1.3 million visitors in 2019. This is compared to 309,000 from Germany and 115,000 from France.
British tourists have a reputation for rowdy behaviour.
Overcrowding is an existential threat to the island, said Lanzarote’s President María Dolores Corujo.
“We are going to continue to promote the debate on the limits to growth even though they try to gag us with the ghost of fear of damage to the image of Lanzarote,” she insisted.
The local opposition party has condemned the plan which they claim will drive prices up for locals and devastate the local economy.
How has the travel industry responded to the comments?
Steve Heapy, the Chief Executive of one of the UK’s biggest budget airlines, Jet2, spoke to Travel Weekly about President María Dolores Corujo’s comments.
“We heard about what the minister had said at ITB in Berlin last week, so on Monday, I took the initiative and wrote to her, copying in all the hoteliers in Lanzarote.
“As the largest UK tour operator to Lanzarote, I contacted her for clarification over her inflammatory and quite frankly offensive comments about British tourists, to ask her what she means and to what extent she wants to reduce British tourism.
“It’s left the hotelier community asking the same questions.”
Jet2holidays works with 111 hotels and 46 villas across eight resorts in Lanzarote.
Jet2 chief executive
How is the island planning to prevent overtourism?
The plan has a clear intention – reducing the number of British holidaymakers.
However, authorities haven’t hammered out details on how this will be achieved.
There is no detail of an official ‘limit’ yet, but the council website indicates that the tourism authorities will soon start targeting marketing toward other European countries.
“In Madrid, we once again highlighted our firm commitment to sustainability and excellence, and this also means aspiring to receive fewer tourists, with more spending at the destination so that they generate greater wealth in the economy as a whole,” a statement on the council website reads.
“That growth is expected in French, Italian, Netherlands or mainland Spain markets and we hope that it will continue to have a direct impact on the increase in tourist spending in the destination.”
Which other Spanish destinations are limiting overtourism?
Lanzarote is the latest of several Spanish islands to express dissatisfaction with high numbers of tourists.
Last month, the government of the Balearic Islands – an archipelago which includes Mallorca, Menorca, and Ibiza – announced plans to cap tourist numbers.
In 2022, more than 16 million holidaymakers visited the islands. Officials have indicated that this will be the ‘absolute ceiling’ in future.
“The number of visits reached this year is a maximum that should not be exceeded but should tend to decrease. There must be a clear trend towards the reduction of tourist places,” said Balearic Islands tourism minister Iago Negueruela
The islands were historically hotspots for so-called ‘party tourism.’
But last year, authorities imposed tough regulations targeting drunken revellers.
Many all-inclusive resorts in Magaluf, El Arenal and Ibiza imposed a drink limit.
New rules also banned happy hours, pub crawls, two-for-one drink offers, and the sale of alcohol in shops between 9:30pm and 8am.
Playa de Palma – one of Mallorca’s most popular party resorts – banned people from wearing football shirts in restaurants as well.