10th Aug 2020 @ 9:22 am

Yaiza Castilla, the Canarian Councillor for Tourism, has said that there are grounds for “slight optimism” for the winter tourist season if bookings hold up. In an interview with Diario de Lanzarote, she also described the future of tourism on the island, with plans to prioritise mature tourists and teleworkers.

Castilla said the decision of the British government to impose quarantine restrictions on Spain had been a “big setback.” “We were optimistic about the season because a lot of bookings were coming in,” she said “ But that trend has been ruined now.”

Castilla clarified that the tourist board had expected 50% of seats on flights top have been recovered by August, with an eventual aim of a recovery of 60% of tourist activity by December. The British decision has ruined that forecast. “Apart from that obstacle, if  bookings recover, we can once again be slightly optimistic, as long as other countries do not veto us and the health situation in source countries does not worsen.”

 Castilla said that the “Canarian Fortress” project supported tests at origin and on arrival, and but realised that this was outside the power of the regional government to impose “Risk must be mutual,” she said, “Each country needs a health service that can handle the coronavirus. Here on the Canaries we’ve shown we are super-prepared in terms of health and tourism, and that’s why it rankles to be put in the same bag as everyone else.”  Castilla also welcomed the offer of hotel federations to pay for testing themselves, but said that “this is an issue that should have been settled long ago.”

Castilla also outlined some of the future plans for tourism on the islands, mentioning an incentive system that would use public money to lure tourists to the islands “I don’t like public money being spent like this, but I think it is necessary at this time to stop the economic hemorrhage.”

Castilla said there were plans to promote “silver” tourism “people of a certain age, who are those with the most purchasing power. We want to attract them to the Canary Islands to spend long stays or their retirement here, to bring their pensions and investments to the Islands.  We also want to promote the telework segment, the so-called “digital nomads”, who can work from anywhere, but if they do so in the Canary Islands they’ll be spending money here.”

Castilla also recognised that it was necessary to diversify the Canarian economy so that it is not so reliant on tourism. “We are not going to see a radical change in the model. It is impossible to achieve a diversified economy in one year, two years, or one term of government. But we can move toward that goal and make it happen. At present, industry in the Canary Islands is 7 per cent  of the economy We want to raise it to 10 percent. It seems little, but it would be a significant advance.”