The island of Lanzarote in the Spanish Canaries has declared itself “tourist-saturated” and wants fewer visits from British holidaymakers.
The volcanic island off North Africa’s northwest coast received just under 2.5 million visitors in 2022, or twenty tourists for every single islander. Brits make up over half of the island’s visitors.
Seeking to tackle what has been described as an “existential threat to the island” President Maria Dolores Corujo announced plans “to reduce dependence on the British market”.
The new strategy is a bid to balance sustainability with growth and address overcrowding by targeting fewer visitors with more spending power. These are expected to come from comparatively untapped French, Italian, Netherlands and mainland Spanish markets.
Some point to the recently inaugurated expansion of the port of Playa Blanca, aimed to bring in tourists from Fuerteventura as a sign of hypocrisy. Meanwhile opposition politicians have criticised the policies which they say will negatively impact the island’s image and economy. Corujo is not backing down.
We are going to continue to promote the debate on the limits to growth even though they try to gag us with the ghost of fear of damage to the image of Lanzarote.Maria Dolores Corujo, the President of Lanzarote
Meanwhile the Spanish Tourist Office’s director has been quoted as saying the country would not discriminate between visitors. Last year they were forced to clarify that a requirement for tourists to prove they have sufficient means for their stay (€100 a day) was neither new nor specific to British tourists but a long-standing rule for visitors from outside the Schengen Area.
While no exact details of Lanzarote’s plans or intended cap are available, government websites indicate a shift in their marketing spend towards countries other than the UK.
Some British tourists have earned the nation a reputation for anti-social behaviour and over-indulgence when on vacation. Lanzarote is not the first destination to consider ways to change their image and limit UK visitors.
After receiving just under 16.5 million holidaymakers in 2022, the Balearic islands, which include party-hotspots Ibiza, Menorca, Mallorca, have unveiled plans to control visitor numbers.
This follows last year’s introduction of new rules on drunken behaviour. Many resorts have limited drinking with some prohibiting happy hours, pub crawls, two-for-one drink offers, and night-time restrictions on the sale of alcohol in shops.
Playa de Palma in Mallorca even went as far as banning people from wearing football shirts in restaurants.