Current Canary Islands Tourism Statistics – September 2009

A bleak picture has been painted today by the four major tourism sector employers in the Canary Islands this week.

The Canary Islands has lost 15% of their normal tourist numbers compared with the same period last year which is a dramatic decline. Last year the Canary Islands received over 9.2 million visitors so that represents a fall of 1.38 million tourists. Occupancy rates are well down and people are not staying as long to reduce their costs.

The Canary Islands have a fragile economy principally supported by tourism, so this news is a major setback for the Islands. It is estimated that 50,000 jobs could be lost as businesses find it harder to cut costs.

If you look at the economics, an average tourist visiting the Canary Islands will spend around €60 Euros per day on the Islands. Multiply that by the number of lost visitors that is an 83 million Euro shortfall in business, every day.

The statistics also reveal a 13-20% reduction in the number of flight slots over the coming months which signals that things are not set to improve. As a result, many employers will have no choice but to reduce staff numbers.

President Zapatero of Spain is due to visit the region shortly and everyone is hoping he will completely remove airport taxes to stimulate the number of visitors to the Canary Islands. Airport taxes have already been reduced but it does not seem to have had much effect to date.

Currently, Canarian residents enjoy a discount on flights to Spain and the tourism sector is now pushing for a reciprocal arrangement for residents from mainland Spain. This would attract more visitors from the Iberian Peninsula at a time when they are desperately needed.

Unemployment levels in the Canary Island have already risen dramatically over the past 12 months and rising levels will place an even heavier burden on the Government in terms of benefit payments. If unemployment levels reach 30%, which is quite possible, it will cost them 300 million Euros per month in unemployment benefits, significantly more that the lost revenue from abolishing airport taxes.

Over the past year the Government has been well aware that tourist numbers have been falling yet they seem to have done very little to resolve the problem. Perhaps any measures the Government make now will be too late to be effective because the airlines have already began their withdrawal. There is a more time lag in tourism than any other industry because of pre-booking and change takes time to implement.

Perhaps the Government should not only abolish airport tax but pay a reverse subsidy to encourage the airlines. The airlines and travel industry will target destinations where they can be competitive and offer good value, otherwise they cannot be profitable in the current climate.

The Canary Islands could be considered a medium haul destination so airlines cannot offer massive discounts because of fuel costs. That is why flights to the Islands are expensive and why the tourists have been going elsewhere.

The real victims of this failure are the residents, most of who depend on tourism for their livelihood.


About Expedia Tenerife Property
Estate Agent living and working in Tenerife as a property consultant

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