The latest tourist figures for the Canaries have been announced and it’s not looking any better. In fact, June’s figures have added to the despair felt in many sectors this year at what is being called a “catastrophic” drop in visitors. In June, the Canaries welcomed 497,764 holidaymakers, down 123,232 from 2008, a year-on-year fall of 19,84%, representing the worst month of 2009 second only to the 19.89% drop in March. Almost half of the missing tourists are British, with 21% (57,000 ) fewer in June; German visitors are down 15.9%, Irish 34.82%, and Norwegian 34%. Overall in the first half of 2009, the islands have received 4,002,880 visitors, nearly 700,000 fewer than in the same period last year. Again, the British alone make up half the fall.
The President of the Federation of Hoteliers and Tourism (Feht) in Gran Canaria, Fernando Fraile, warned that the situation is dreadful and complicated, because the sector has never registered such low occupancy levels. “We knew that it was going to be the worst summer in our history”, he said, “but we have to hold on”. Sr Fraile thinks that July’s figures might improve a little, but that they won’t begin to approach those of 2008, and that the only hope for August is Spanish visitors, who appear to have got the message that it will be cheaper for them to spend the summer in the Canaries. The President of the Lanzarote tourist authorities, Susana Pérez, blamed the Government: “we saw it coming, and we warned them, but the Canarian Government and the (Lanzarote) Cabildo aren’t doing what they need to do”. Canarias7