Many more tourists to the Canary Islands than before the pandemic

by Lorraine Williamson
Canary Islands

LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA – The Minister of Tourism of the Canary Islands and representatives from the sector itself are expecting a very good summer. However, there are great concerns about the problems at the airports as a result of staff shortages at passport controls. 

These problems mainly affect British visitors who have to go through customs again since Brexit. Especially if there are 400,000 more airplane seats available on flights to the islands than before the corona pandemic. Moreover, according to industry sources, the number of reservations has not stopped growing in recent weeks. All indications are that the Canary Islands will approach or even surpass 2019 figures in terms of tourist arrivals. Despite this, profitability is expected to be lower due to inflation and rising costs. 

5 Million aircraft seats 

For July, August, and September, the Canary Islands will have almost five million aircraft seats, almost 400,000 more than before the pandemic, in the summer of 2019. According to data processed by the regional Ministry of Tourism. Airplane seats to the islands are growing by 8.3% compared to the summer of 2019. At a national level, the growth is lower at 6%. 

The Tourism Minister of the Government of the Canary Islands, Yaiza Castilla, yesterday praised the airlines’ “strong commitment” to the islands, but at the same time indicated that he was “cautious”. She warned that airplane seats are “no guarantee” for tourists. Moreover, she sees “threats” on the horizon, such as the war in Ukraine and rising prices. 

According to the newspaper Canarias7, tourism entrepreneurs estimate that, despite it being a good summer, the year 2022 will close with 80% of the tourism of 2019. Competition from other destinations in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean is fierce. Castilla is convinced that the local market will contribute to improving the tourism results of the islands. 

The UK is the fastest-growing market 

Air connections with countries other than Spain will grow by 9.8% this summer, from almost 300,000 seats to 3.1 million. The UK is the fastest-growing market with more than 190,000 seats at 14.1%. In the three summer months, it exceeds 1.5 million. 

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Other markets, which have stepped up their efforts during the pandemic, such as France and the Netherlands, recorded a combined increase of 19.8%, from more than 175,000 to more than one million. In the case of Scandinavia, connectivity has still not been restored to 2019 levels. 

Compared to the number of places in 2019, Germany has decreased by 9.4%, with 54,353 fewer. A total of 522,709 aircraft seats were counted. As for the peninsula, airlines have 4.7 million seats planned, 5.4% more than before the pandemic. 

By airport 

The nearly 400,000 seats won by the Canary Islands compared to 2019 are distributed as follows: 

  • Lanzarote gained almost 120,000, which is an increase of 15.1% to almost a million seats in total this summer. 
  • Gran Canaria will gain 79,327 seats (+6.8%) for a total of 1.2 million seats. 
  • Tenerife Sur gains 65,553 additional seats (+5.2%), up to 1.3 million  
  • Fuerteventura will receive 63,996 more (+11.5%), for a total of 621,358 seats 
  • La Palma gets 38% more seats (+24,094), to 87,143 
  • Tenerife North will get 1.8% connectivity, 8,865 places, up to 502,987. 

Avoid queues at airports 

The President of the Federation of Entrepreneurs in Hospitality and Tourism (FEHT), José María Mañaricua, expressed his concern about what could happen at Canary airports in July and August if the police do not step up passport controls to allow tourists from third countries, such as the United Kingdom. As the UK is an important source market for the islands with 1.5 million seats between the UK and the islands (+14% compared to 2019), shortages in passport controls could lead to chaos in terminals if measures are not taken. 

The government of Spain announced yesterday that 500 agents will enter the 12 busiest airports in the coming days, including Tenerife South, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and Gran Canaria, but for now, the figure per terminal is not detailed. 

Also read: Chaos threatens Spanish airports

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