The head of British airline Jet2 has responded to the Lanzarote president’s “provocative” and “offensive” comments about British tourists.
Dolores Corujo told trade conferences last week that the Canary Island, a popular tourist destination for Britons off the West African coast, wanted to attract more “high-quality” tourists from mainland Europe, such as Germany, Netherlands and France, so he didn’t have to depend on British travellers.
More than 50 per cent of visitors to the island currently come from the UK and overcrowding is an existential threat to the volcanic island, he added.
The head of the socialist party of the local government of Lanzarote said: “It is essential to work on the diversification of the [tourism] sector and the growth of markets such as the German one”.
Ms Corujo said the government wanted to attract high-spending holidaymakers and distance the Atlantic Ocean island from “mass tourism”.
The local opposition party has condemned the plans, claiming it would raise prices for venues and devastate the local economy.
Jet2 chief executive Steve Heapy said he had written a letter to Ms Corujo clarifying how much she “wants to curtail British tourism”.
He told Travel Weekly: ‘We heard what the minister had said at the ITB in Berlin last week, so on Monday I took the initiative and wrote to her, copying all the hoteliers in Lanzarote.
“As the UK’s largest tour operator in Lanzarote, I have contacted her to clarify her inflammatory and frankly abusive comments about British tourists, to ask what she means and how far she wants to reduce British tourism.
“It left the hotelier community asking the same questions.”
In his letter, Mr Heapy said Ms Corujo’s comments could have a detrimental effect on British tourists and asked for clarification on the term ‘higher quality tourism’.
The Tourist Federation of Lanzarote (FTL) echoed Heapy’s request for clarification and distanced itself from the comments.
Jet2 is the UK’s largest tour operator and has put 625,000 flight seats on sale to Lanzarote this summer and next winter, Canarian Weekly reports.
The UK market is by far the largest on the island, with 1.3 million visitors to the UK in 2019 compared to 309,000 from Germany and 115,000 from France, according to Canarian Weekly.
The island, administered by Spain, is known for its volcanic landscape, picturesque beaches, and year-round warm climate. Stretching 51 kilometers across Lanzarote, Timanfaya National Park consists entirely of volcanic soil.
Lanzarote is the latest of several Spanish islands to express concern about large volumes of tourists.
Last month, the government of the Balearic Islands – which includes Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza – announced plans to limit the number of tourists. In 2022, more than 16 million holidaymakers visited the islands, reports Euronews.
Mallorca has revealed it will not allow more than three cruise ships a day to reach the island’s capital Palma in 2023 and 2024.