Lanzarote’s president insists British tourists ‘will always be welcome here’

Playa Dorada Beach, Yaiza, Las Palmas, the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Spain (Shutterstock / Amy Corti)
Playa Dorada Beach, Yaiza, Las Palmas, the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Spain (Shutterstock / Amy Corti)

Lanzarote’s president has sought to allay the fears of British tourists by insisting: “You are and will always be welcome here.”

Maria Dolores Corujo hit back after being rattled by reaction to her claims the holiday island was saturated and needed to reduce its dependence on British tourism.

Earlier this month she faced criticism after heaping praise on Germans and saying the German market adapted to its intentions of aiming at “higher-quality” holidaymakers ahead of the Berlin Tourism Fair.

The president reiterated on Sunday that the island’s tourist capacity had reached its limit and it had to prioritise a “rational and lasting development based on quality”.

But she insisted, in an open letter in island newspaper La Voz de Lanzarote: “It’s categorically false that in Lanzarote we do not want British tourism or that we want to reduce the numbers of British tourists.

“I will say it once and for all. British tourism has always, is and will always be welcome on the island of Lanzarote.

“In Lanzarote we are also lucky to have an excellent long-time resident British community, a community that is sensitive to the environment and involved in caring for and defending sustainable development for our island.

“We share our island character with the British and that makes the existence of limits in an insular, fragile and small territory like ours very well understood.”

She said the backlash was part of a “false controversy fuelled by misinformation”.

“Some have taken it out of context and others have misrepresented the assessment I made about the future of the tourism sector on the island.”

She went on to point the finger of blame for “fuelling the controversy” on a “media outlet owned by a hotelier with a court order to demolish one of his establishments” although she didn’t name names.

Hotel chiefs in Lanzarote have insisted it is unwise to talk of tourist saturation.

Francisco Martinez, vice-president of Lanzarote’s Island Association of Hotels and Apartments, said political leaders were opening an unnecessary debate and being “badly-advised”.

Last week it emerged Jet2 boss Steve Heapy had written to Mrs Corujo asking her to explain what she said and clarify whether or not she wanted British tourists coming to the island.

Lanzarote’s opposition leader Astrid Perez also waded into the debate at the weekend, saying Mrs Corujo had been “irresponsible” but adding: “I don’t expect the British to boycott Lanzarote just because of the irresponsible comments of a politician whose words don’t represent islanders’ feelings.”

Lanzarote has an annual influx of 1.3million British holidaymakers who contributed to its £2.1billion annual tourist income last year, according to the Lanzarote Data Centre.

Around half of all the tourists who visit the island are British.

British expats make up five per cent of Lanzarote’s 130,000 population.

Irish-born Geraldine McFadden, who co-owns a number of bars and restaurants on the island, told the Sun at the weekend: “The English and the Irish bring us our bread and butter.

“They’re the ones ordering beers since nine o’clock in the morning.”