Lanzarote to limit tourists as locals fume at ‘uncivil behaviour’

Lanzarote hotel manager says she’s ‘ready’ for British tourists

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The president of the island of Lanzarote has announced that she will continue with plans to “desaturate” the scenic holiday destination of tourists as she looks to end reliance on British vacationers. María Dolores Corujo has not been deterred by warnings from locals who fear the loss of tourists’ business could negatively impact them.

Speaking on Wednesday, Ms Dolores Corujo said: “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.”

The director of the Spanish Tourist Office in the UK has since told the MailOnline that while Spain’s “travel industries need to work together to address the challenges of mass tourism,” the country’s main focus was on “becoming a more sustainable and competitive tourism destination.”

Manuel Butler added that Spain would not “discriminate by type of visitor.”

Lanzarote’s government is yet to lay out its plans to reduce tourists visiting the island.

Famara, a hotspot on the island which attracts surfers from all around the world, has already begun preparing for the changes.

Locals have already looked at how they can prevent overcrowding at beaches.

People at the meeting agreed that “Famara is saturated, there are too many people, cars and rubbish.”

They also lamented the “uncivil” behaviour of some who travel there.

Carmen Portella, from the organisation Desert Watch, said: “The situation is unsustainable and is getting worse. You have to sacrifice people, not nature, which is already sacrificed enough.”

More than half of Lanzarote’s tourists come from the UK, and some on the island fear their president’s remarks could damage their tourism business.

A member of the political party Podemos Canarias said Ms Dolores Corujo was not aware of the damage that could be caused by driving away tourists, describing her new approach as an “announcement which could forever change the way our people earn their bread.”

Ms Dolores Corujo accused them of “spreading fear which doesn’t exist.”

She added: “The great challenges of Lanzarote involve limiting tourism growth as a step prior to a process of decrease which makes it possible to reduce the accommodation offer while maintaining, and even improving, the income produced by those who visit the island.

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“The Balearic Islands, the Costa del Sol or Barcelona are constantly in the news for their attempts to limit the growth of the number of vehicles associated with tourism, rationalise the arrival of cruise ships or control the growth of vacation rentals without generating any reputational crisis in the issuing markets.

“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 and regardless of whoever is, the only viable model has to be based on social and environmental sustainability.”

But Mr Butler of the Spanish Tourism board in the UK told the MailOnline: “Spain is a socially inclusive destination and we do not discriminate by type of visitor. It is true that our travel industries need to work together to address the challenges of mass tourism, not just in Spain but around the world, to achieve a model which is more responsible and mitigates the environmental footprint.

“For Spain, our strategy is focused on becoming a more sustainable and competitive tourism destination which addresses seasonal and geographical challenges, supports local industries and jobs and helps preserve local heritage and culture.

“It is true that a few destinations in Spain are putting in measures to encourage more responsible tourism behaviour, but ultimately, we are proud to be a welcoming country that is open to visitors from all different backgrounds and walks of life.”

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