The pain in Spain being caused by falling tourist numbers is hitting the small holiday island of Lanzarote hard. As new figures just released by the Spanish airport operators AENA reveal that foreign arrivals to the island dropped by over 19% in February. Some way ahead of the national average. With visitor numbers from the UK – Lanzarote´s largest market – the worst affected.
The new AENA figures show that the number of tourists arriving on flights to Lanzarote fell by 19.25% in February, versus the same month in 2008. With nearly 30,000 less foreign tourists visiting the island last month. And with double digit drops recorded across all key markets – with the sole exception of the Republic of Ireland.
British tourism – which last year accounted for around 60% of the 1.5 million foreign national arrivals - was the hardest hit. As the AENA figures show that cumulatively arrivals from the UK have now fallen by 18.82% during the first two months of 2009. As the twin effects of the deprecation of sterling against the euro and the credit crunch have colluded to drive British visitor numbers down sharply.
This negative picture has also been replicated across all other key markets. Such as Germany – Lanzarote´s second largest source of arrivals – where visitor numbers are down by 13.32% versus February 2008. And across Scandanavia, Holland and Austria too.
Only the Irish market has shown some degree of resilience – with the number of tourists visiting Lanzarote from the Republic falling by only just over 3%. Reflecting Lanzarote´s enormous popularity as a holiday destination amongst Irish tourists.
Inevitably, falling arrivals are taking their toll on all sectors of the islands economy – which is heavily dependant upon tourism, estimated to account for around 85% of GDP.
For example, ASOLAN, the islands main hoteliers association, has reported big falls in occupancy levels across hotels in Lanzarote of just over 13%. Whilst dwindling arrivals are also doing nothing to aid the Lanzarote property market – which is currently becalmed.
All local estate agents have reported a big rise in the number of price reduced properties on their books. But at the same time there´s a dearth of buyers in a position to take advantage. As mortgage lending on the island is virtually paralysed.
The picture on Lanzarote is being replicated across Spain – according to the country’s Ministry of Tourism. Who recently reported that total foreign tourist numbers fell by 15.9% in February versus 2008 figures. With British arrivals down by 23.4% for the same period.