Lanzarote president finally declares ‘British tourists will always be welcome’ after her call for ‘higher quality’ holidaymakers sparked outrage
Lanzarote’s president has tried to allay British tourists’ fears by insisting: ‘You are and will always be welcome here.’
Maria Dolores Corujo hit back after being upset by the backlash to her claims that the resort island was saturated and needed to reduce its dependence on British tourism.
Earlier this month, Corujo drew more criticism after praising Germans and saying the German market had adapted to its intentions to target ‘higher quality’ holidaymakers ahead of the Berlin Tourism Fair.
The island’s unrepentant president again said overnight that the island’s tourism capacity had reached its limit and that it should prioritize a “rational and sustainable development based on quality.”
But Corujo stressed in an open letter to the island newspaper La Voz de Lanzarote: ‘It is categorically false that we do not want British tourism in Lanzarote or that we want to reduce the number of British tourists.
Lanzarote’s president has tried to allay British tourists’ fears by insisting: ‘You are and will always be welcome here’ (file image from Playa Blanca in Lanzarote)
“I’ll say it once and for all. British tourism is, is and always will be welcome on the island of Lanzarote.’
About half of all tourists visiting Lanzarote are British and Corujo has set the island’s future tourism strategy on one of ‘diversification to reduce dependence on the British market’ and welcoming more ‘luxury’ holidaymakers.
Lanzarote, known in the past as ‘Lanzagrotty’, is expected to focus its efforts on more French, Italian, Dutch and German visitors as well as mainland Spanish tourists.
But Corujo insisted British “will always be welcome on the island.”
‘In Lanzarote we are also fortunate to have an excellent long-standing British community, one that is sensitive to the environment and involved in the care and defense of sustainable development for our island.
“We share our island character with the British and that makes the existence of borders in an insular, fragile and small area like ours very well understood.”
She stressed that the backlash her comments have caused was part of a “false controversy fueled by misinformation,” she added. “Some have taken it out of context and others have misrepresented my assessment of the future of the island’s tourism industry.”
She then pointed the finger of blame for “stirring up the controversy” at a “media outlet owned by a hotelier with a court order to demolish one of his establishments,” though she did not name any names.
Corujo, who belongs to the same left-wing PSOE party that currently rules Spain with the backing of the far-left Unidas Podemos party, defended her remarks around the time of the Berlin Tourism Fair, adding: “All tourist destinations go to fairs to promote their attractions and conquer new markets to diversify the tourism they receive.
Lanzarote has also been doing it for years because common sense and the basic laws of economics advise us not to depend on a single country, especially in times of uncertainty such as the one we are experiencing due to the war in Ukraine.
“But that doesn’t mean we don’t want those who visit us most, British tourists, on the contrary.”
Maria Dolores Corujo (pictured) hit back after being upset by the backlash to her claims that the holiday island was saturated and needed to reduce dependence on British tourism
Lanzarote hotel chefs have insisted it is unwise to talk about tourist saturation.
Francisco Martinez, vice president of Lanzarote’s Island Association of Hotels and Apartments, said political leaders are opening an unnecessary debate and have been “ill-advised”.
And late last week it emerged that Jet2 boss Steve Heapy had written to Ms Corujo asking her to explain what she was saying and clarify whether or not she wanted British tourists to come to the island.
Lanzarote’s opposition leader Astrid Perez also joined the debate this weekend, saying Ms Corujo had been “irresponsible” but added: “I do not expect the British to boycott Lanzarote just because of the irresponsible comments of a politician whose words do not represent the feelings of the islanders.’
Lanzarote has an annual influx of 1.3 million UK holidaymakers who contributed to annual tourist income of £2.1 billion last year, according to the Lanzarote Data Centre. About half of all tourists visiting the island are British.
British expatriates make up five per cent of Lanzarote’s 130,000 inhabitants.
Irish-born Geraldine McFadden, who co-owns a number of bars and restaurants on the island, told the Sun over the weekend: ‘The English and the Irish bring us our bread and our butter.
“They’re the ones ordering beer since nine in the morning.”