Lanzarote rushes to build bridges with British tourists after president calls for 'better class of holidaymakers' to visit island

16 March 2023, 20:05

Lanzarote's tourist board is scrambling to repair relations with British holidaymakers
Lanzarote's tourist board is scrambling to repair relations with British holidaymakers. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Lanzarote's tourist board has scrambled to repair relations with British holidaymakers after the island's president called for "a better class" of visitors to come to the island.

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The Tourist Federation of Lanzarote said on Thursday that the island had "very strong ties" with British tourists, who make up the bulk of its visitors, and would continue to be "hospitable" to them.

The tourism trade group asked president María Dolores Corujo to meet with British tourism operators to show that the island remains open to visitors from the UK.

Ms Corujo sparked outrage last week when she told an audience in Berlin that the islands must try to move away from "mass tourism" in favour of "higher quality tourism and holidaymakers who spend more".

She added: "It’s essential to work on the diversification of the sector and the growth of markets like the German market, which adapt to our intentions of aiming at higher-quality tourism [and] move us away from mass tourism."

Maria Dolores Corujo
Maria Dolores Corujo. Picture: Getty

Her striking comments came a month after she said Lanzarote had become "saturated" by an excess of tourists, including Brits.

The tiny Canary Island typically receives around 17 times the number of tourists as its resident population.More than half of the island's visitors come from the UK alone, she said.

The Tourist Federation said on Thursday that all tourists were welcome to Lanzarote "and can enjoy multiple tourist experiences on our island, for all budgets and nationalities."

They added in a statement, translated from Spanish: "We have always had very strong ties with the British market and, thanks to this, relations have been strengthened in such a way that they present a high level of fidelity with the Island.

"Lanzarote is an absolutely hospitable island and will continue to be so for British tourists, for which we emphasise its importance in the tourist and economic sphere of the island."

Brits make up the bulk of tourists in Lanzarote
Brits make up the bulk of tourists in Lanzarote. Picture: Alamy

It comes after the CEO of one of the biggest British airlines, which ferries hundreds of thousands of UK holidaymakers to Lanzarote each year, demanded an explanation for Ms Corujo's comments.

Jet2 boss Steve Heapy warned that her statement could have a "very detrimental effect on British tourists who are choosing Lanzarote for their holidays this year”, and asked Corujo to clarify what “higher quality tourism means.”

Read more: Canary Islands need 'higher quality' German tourists instead of Brits, president of Lanzarote says

Read more: Lanzarote 'fed up' after Spanish island becomes 'saturated' with British tourists and calls for fewer UK holidaymakers

He told trade publication Travel Weekly: "As the largest UK tour operator to Lanzarote, I contacted her for clarification over her inflammatory and quite frankly offensive comments about British tourists."

Mr Heapy also said that he wanted to know :what she means and to what extent she wants to reduce British tourism."

According to Lanzarote Tourism Information, 45 per cent of the island's visitors in 2019 were British, with annual UK visitors growing from 807,000 to 1.4 million since 2010.

The board also found in 2019 that Brits spend €34.94 per day, more than Germans' €27.69 per day.Germans make up around 14 per cent of the island's visitors.