A few days ago the national Government’s Industry department published tourism figures from its tourism institute Frontur showing that the Canaries received the most visitors in a May since records began in 1995, and that in fact the first five months of 2015 were better than the same period in 2014, a year which was the best in its turn since records began (link). Now, Industria’s tourism spending statistics from Egatur (Encuesta de Gasto Turístico) show that not only do we have more tourists, the ones we have top the league for tourist spending in the whole of Spain.

I know the cynicism these articles engender but these figures are not produced by Turismo here, nor the Canarian Government: they aren’t actually produced in the Canaries at all. They are, rather, national statistics collected by impartial studies for a national Government department that has no interest in making the Canaries, particularly, look any better than any other region. It doesn’t matter to the national Government in Madrid whether the Canaries come top or bottom of tourism leagues, any more than it matters to them where Andalucia, or Galicia, or Valencia place in the table.

Egatur’s figures show that tourist spending of €5.5m in the Canaries over the first five months of this year was up 1.3% compared with the same period in 2014, and that May’s spend alone was 16.7% more than May last year. The Canaries heads the list of tourist spend in Spain with 24.8% of the entire country’s income from visitors. British and German visitors are the ones who spend the most, despite French and Dutch tourists leading the field for visitor numbers.

All inclusive offers are frequently blamed for killing tourism here over the past several years. But the simple fact is that despite all attempts to portray the Canaries as “empty”, or “dead”, tourism is soaring. If it is not readily visible to those in traditional tourist areas it is because the new tourists are not frequenting traditional tourist areas, or the facilities which are on offer in them. Moreover, all-inclusive deals here are not at the luxury end of the market, which is where the growth is located. It is not the luxury tourists who wear the armbands and fail to populate the “traditional” bars which so many see empty.

Luxury tourists stay in large hotels where there are spas, or golf, and a choice of multiple restaurants, with extra “excursions” and activities like diving, yachting, or star watching led by qualified specialists and professionals – all of which are paid for separately to the hotel accommodation. And this sector employs considerable numbers of people directly as well as indirectly providing a significant and varied amount of business for Canarians in the wider economy. The Canarian Government will use these figures to reinforce its claim that its protectionist policy of restriction and quality control, modernization and up-marketism, is working. And with these figures, produced entirely independently of the Canaries, they could reasonably claim that they have every justification to do so.

This article has 12 Comments

  1. I think that’s wonderful news!! It’s about time these little islands were recognised for the gems they really are. It’s great that we are beginning to reap the rewards economically.

  2. The Canarian Government will use these figures to reinforce its claim that its protectionist policy of restriction and quality control, modernization and up-marketism, is working. And with these figures, produced entirely independently of the Canaries, they could reasonably claim that they have every justification to do so.

    And that is precisely why statistics ‘show’ that tourism here is booming. No doubt that statistical trend will continue.

  3. Don’t follow you Ray. They’ll use the figures because they show the facts … and because the facts coincide with what the government said it was aiming to achieve by its tourism policies.

  4. Hi Janet

    Always cautious about published statistical headlines. I prefer to have much more (total) transparency in order to drill down and see, first hand, where and how the numbers are established. I also see and feel tourism here on a daily basis albeit in a confined ‘traditional’ touristic area.

    Guess it’s a bit like the reported Spanish economical recovery – if you don’t see it and/or feel it then you tend not to believe in it.

  5. “The Canarian Government will use these figures to reinforce its claim that its protectionist policy of restriction and quality control, modernization and up-marketism, is working. ”

    Exactly, so why now implement a law which will wipe out the sector which is showing most growth over the past few years, and is providing for the most part, the 4/5* accommodation they claim to be wanting to provide? This will turn the figures into decline.

  6. because it is the upmarket luxury hotel sector that has led the growth … the figures have grown over precisely the period that they have been clamping down on the illegal holiday let market.

  7. i tend to be a bit cynical about PR spin on statistics to fit the agenda – encouraging as it is to see increases in tourists , it also has been a couple of years of unrest, uncertainty and atrocities in some of the areas competing with the Canaries for the Tourist Money ,
    What I also see is in tourist area like San Eugenio , Torviscas , Puerto Colon is bars closing, Las Terrazas commercial area at Puerto Colon virtually bereft of shops – an escalator system they can´t afford to run and one of 2 lifts that hasn´t worked in 3+ yrs .
    People with their AI bands coming down late at night for a drink having filled up at their hotels spending minimal amounts on drinks or a bottle of water .
    Of course their is a market for 5* – there always will be – even in the cold climes of Scotland, but other less affluent families look for more affordable ways of holidaying here and the recent re-enforcement and upgrading of law is going to make that more difficult !

  8. John, I took great pains to stress that these are independent statistics produced outside of and with no relation to the Canaries. Where exactly do you see PR spin? The only way it could be spun to fit a Canarian agenda is if the statistics were Canarian. They are not! Or are you saying that there is some sort of conspiracy in the Department of Industry in Madrid to put pressure on statistics institutes to make Canarian tourism look good to the detriment of the rest of the whole of Spain?

    The bottom line, though, with regard to your last point, is that the Canarian government isn’t actually all that eager for lots of “lower-end” tourists. One minister is on record, indeed, that the Canaries wants fewer tousists, but “quality” ones, because they spend more money and there is not sufficient infrastructure here for huge numbers of the “cheap and cheerful brigade”. That way they get an increased income and a reduced stress on the island. The Government’s new law will require by force the renovation of older tourist accommodation for the bargain end of the market which still wants to come to Tenerife, but they don’t want them in great numbers anyway.

  9. “…..other less affluent families look for more affordable ways of holidaying here….”

    Yes frequently as illegal renters in reidential complexes. I will say this until I am blue in the face, why should I as a resident in a residential complex have to endure a constant change of illegal renters next door to me and above me. Apparently I have to endure it so that the canarian employment figures don’t collapse and so that less affluent families can have an affordable holiday, what a laugh! The reason that illegal renting is taking place is not to give holidays to less affluent families or to protect employment levels, it is solely for the reason that owners who are illegally renting like the income, whether it is to subsidise a mortgage or whether it is just plain greed, whether the activity is illegal or not. It is obvious to me that all the complaints about the restrictions on renting are made by those with vested interests. If the statistics don’t support your argument, just ignore them and state that they are suspect!

  10. Hi Janet

    You are perfectly correct that these statistics are not Canarian government sourced/generated. However, that does not mean that they are not open to ‘adjustment’ in order to fit a particular political agenda. After all, we are talking politics here and Spanish politics at that and Ashotel are very influential. I am sure that they can also be very persuasive. There can be no doubt that they have a very clear political agenda in these islands and I am sure (like all similar organisations political and non political) they will want to see their own agenda succeed. The islands politicians will think likewise. All I would like to see is a detailed ground up explanation of the data – with numbers.

    I know that this island wants more 5*. Good on them, it’s needed and I wish the strategy total success but IMHO the rot has set in at the lower touristic level and like it or not that is where today’s bread and butter largely comes from.

    Unfortunately a large proportion of the streets (not all) simply do not reflect/support the alleged ‘all time record’ breaking rhetoric and as I have said before if you don’t see it or feel it then you tend not to believe it.

    I agree with john1. The areas that he mentions are the same areas that I mostly frequent but sadly the lack of people on the street is not restricted solely to those areas. In my 10 years here as a resident I have never seen it so dead and I am not talking about a reduction of ‘small’ numbers. I know what I see and feel and it is not good.

    Now some would say that the shift to 5* has already succeeded and that these statistics simply reflect that most of today’s tourists are now playing golf at places like Abama (all I can say is that the greens there must be pretty congested) or go star gazing or similar. Sorry, doesn’t cut it for me. I also question (as I have done here before) the ‘newish’ role of including cruise ship visitors in these statistics. I doubt that is managed very well anyway (ships island hopping and being accounted for more than once) and in themselves must contribute very little in the way of touristic wealth generation and, what is generated, is predominantly isolated to the North.

    Finally, the data is based on visitors and, as in previous years in your excellent web site, I have raised my doubts on that definition; how many visitors are tourists?

    Still as they say; there are statistics statistics and damn lies 🙂

  11. I read an article a few weeks ago stating that the tourists staying in upmarket hotels spend an average of €202 per person. Not exactly a fortune.

  12. However, that does not mean that they are not open to ‘adjustment’ in order to fit a particular political agenda. After all, we are talking politics here and Spanish politics at that …

    There is clearly confusion as to the differences between the Canarian and national governments …. please do read my explanation HERE.

    Please also note that the Lanzarote situation is so atypical that arguments based on the situation there skew the picture.

    And given that this is now turning into another “discussion”, can I refer people again to the discussion page HERE.

    Finally, I’ve just blocked someone who, not for the first time, has tried to be confrontational. I don’t at all mind argument, but when I tried to deal with something by email, it became clear that a fake email address had been given. This is why I’m saying here for them to read it: if someone provokes or confronts while hiding behind fake details, I call it trolling, and won’t have it on my website.

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