Goodbye Easter: 350,000 fewer flight seats to the Canaries than usual
The Canary Islands have lost all hope of seeing an influx of tourists at Easter, due to restrictions being maintained in countries such as the United Kingdom, the bad pandemic situation in France, the Netherlands and Italy, and the fact that Germany has kept the islands on its 'black list' of unsafe destinations, all paint a dark picture for international tourism.
But, the nail in the coffin is that national tourists are not expected either. Every year thousands flock to the archipelago from mainland Spain for some sun during Semana Santa, but this year the perimeter closures of the autonomous communities will mean a 'de facto' closure of the Canary Islands.
This means that although the Canary Islands (nor the Balearics) are officially having a perimeter closure, Spaniards won’t be able to come here as the region they are travelling from doesn’t allow it. This means that it will be local tourism, and a trickle of tourists from countries that are allowed, will be the ones that support the sector this Easter, with occupancy levels that will range between 30 and 40% of the open complexes.
The bad business forecasts were confirmed yesterday by the reduced air connectivity that the islands will have at Easter. According to the data managed by the Department of Tourism of the Canary Islands, the archipelago will have 77% fewer international air seats this Easter than in the same period of 2019.
The islands will have 92,114 seats internationally compared to almost 400,000 before Covid. As for mainland Spain, connectivity will be reduced to 82,342 places, 41% less than in the pre-pandemic period, when they totalled 139,655.
Between nationals and foreigners there will be 175,000 places, 33% less than in 2019 when they were 528,000 (-353,000). Without demand the airlines are not scheduling more flights. "The Canary Islands will not have an Easter this year that stands out for its tourist activity, beyond the island tourism that residents who travel within the archipelago involve," says the Minister of Tourism, Yaiza Castilla.
The general director of the hotel chain Be Cordial Hotels & Resorts, Nicolás Villalobos, assures that this Easter will be "as frustrating" as the last year in which the resorts have been without tourists and mired in losses. "The situation is critical after losing all of the winter season," he says. Villalobos points out that the sector "is still waiting for the sun to rise" with the hope of the vaccine. "We see the light at the end of the tunnel but, for now, we are still waiting," he says.
In the same sense, the president of IFA Hotels, Santiago Armas, agrees that tourist reactivation will not arrive in the Canary Islands before the summer. "The horizon right now is summer and there we will not have it easy either due to the great competition of other destinations and prices," he warns.
The Minister of Tourism, Yaiza Castilla, regretted that the absence of international tourists this Easter is due in part to the poor evolution of the pandemic on the islands. As will be recalled last week, Germany removed six autonomous communities, including the Balearic Islands, from the 'black list', but kept the Canary Islands as an unsafe destination due to the high incidence of infections.
It is currently 63.43 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days, above the 50 that the Robert Koch Institute, the German epidemiological centre, considers optimal. “For this reason, we call on the resident population to take security measures and respect restrictions. Failure to do so will put our health and the engine of our economy at risk,” she says.