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Taking a look at the latest news and views in Puerto de la Cruz 

PAGE 21 TAKING A LOOK

Well, the Carnaval is over, we can all breathe a sigh of relief, I suppose that’s it out of the way for another year.

Not quite. Of course, now we have the Summer Carnaval in September to look forward to, an altogether different scale of event, hardly worth a mention, although it does provide another chance to see the men in high heels marathon, where would we be without it.

The major draw of this year’s Carnaval, almost 30,000 spectators turned out to witness it. I think that’s more than last year, but only if you believe the figures reported on the Ayuntamiento’s facebook page, that is. How do they count them, that’s what I would like to know?

However, the number of spectators shouldn’t really have any relevance as long as those there enjoyed themselves. It’s just that everything the current administration does must always be bigger and better than the previous one. It is always look what we’ve done! Perhaps self appreciation is a local trait; I wouldn’t be at all surprised. It is a particular bugbear of mine; thankfully it is not something I suffer from, I am more inclined towards self-depreciation. But, then who am I to offer an opinion? Do you see what I mean?

So, more people in town on Friday night than watched the main parade on Saturday, an event which almost paled in comparison having only attracted a audience of more than 25,000, again these are the official figures. A crowd which was spread right across the town must surely have been more difficult to count, or perhaps it got too dark before counting finished.

Or perhaps the decision to start the parade at 18.00, just 45 minutes before dusk descended on the town had an effect on the actual number of spectators. Still it must have been a great success even though you couldn’t see half of it. Suffice to say the photos of the parade that appeared on the Ayuntamiento’s facebook page where taken right at the start when there were blue skies and the sun had not quite dipped below the horizon, a very wise precaution I would have thought.

Overall though, in spite of the weather, the Carnaval as a whole, if you ignore the rather spurious attendance figures, must have been a major success story for the town. Yes, if you discount all the comments and opinions posted on what I shall call the alternative Puerto facebook pages, and if you take no notice of the reports of the growing number of people who choose to go, not only to Santa Cruz, but also to the Carnavals in the neighbouring towns, rather than stay in Puerto, then it must have been. That’s it enough said on the subject, I can feel the negativity oozing out of me.

The weather!

What’s next? Should I mention the weather? After all it is a very British thing to do, we like to have a good moan, it’s either too hot or too cold, or we could do with some rain. What about February then, Puerto certainly lived up to its old image, a very unjustified image I must add, of always being cloudy and raining.

An image largely cultivated in the past by the tour companies who didn’t want to bear the cost of trundling coach loads of tourists up the TF1 when the tourist resorts in the south are right on the airport’s doorstep. A cost, which they have been forced to suffer more in recent years as the search for available hotel beds has pushed more visitors in the direction of Puerto de la Cruz, which brings me quite appropriately to my next topic, visitor numbers.

Tourism figures

A few weeks ago the Puerto’s Ayuntamiento published by way of their facebook page the official tourist figures for Puerto de la Cruz for 2017, as compiled by Tourism department within Cabildo, the islands government. Last year 933,110 tourists stayed in the town, the highest figure, it is claimed for 19 years giving an occupation rate of 76.9%, a percentage which I find to be a bit disappointing given that the major tour companies were crying out for beds last year, claiming that the whole of Spain was at saturation point.

But is that figure correct, as just last week in another post the Ayuntamiento put the figure at 85.3%. So who should you believe, and does it really matter, as neither figure can be substantiated, but surely there should be some correlation between the two bodies compiling such different figures, unless, of course, one of the figures was just plucked out of thin air.

933,110 tourists, that’s an increase of 56,581 on 2016, almost 6.5% or a whopping 42.7% increase on the disaster that was annus-horribilis in 2013. You’ll have to excuse all the figures, I am afraid I am one of those ‘sad people’ who likes playing around with numbers, many years ago I worked in accounts, but I have recovered since then and feel a lot better now, so there is hope for me yet.

Still, let’s get to a figure that I’m sure you will be more interested in. Last year 96,414 Brits stayed in Puerto de la Cruz, you shouldn’t need a calculator; it’s just over 10% of total visitors. Did you think it would be more? No, I afraid those heydays are long gone, British tourists trail a long way behind both Spanish and German tourists who between them accounted for 2/3rds (66.6%) of all tourists in Puerto last year.

However, putting that aside we are witnessing a resurgence, over 38,000 more Brits in 2017 than just two years before, that’s a sizable increase, but what’s the reason behind it, it is not as if the town has suddenly become more appealing, apart from being a comparatively ‘safe’ destination, that is. And I don’t believe for one minute the local claims that it is down to their marketing and promotional efforts. No, the answer lies further afield.

2015 is the key, problems in Egypt and uncertainty in Turkey left holiday makers looking for somewhere else, with tour companies looking to Spain to plug the gap. Then the terrorist attack in Tunisia left over 400,000 British tourists looking for an alternative destination. Fast forward to 2018 and confidence is returning, plus a change in Foreign Office advice led to Thomas Cook resuming flights to Tunisia last month, with TUI destined to follow suit in May. I am sure there are good deals on offer. Add the loss of the Monarch flights to the mix and I am wondering if the British visitor numbers to Puerto will continue to grow in 2018.

Maybe that’s why Puerto took the ‘Men in High Heels Marathon’ to FITUR, the international tourism trade fair in Madrid, in a bid to try and cajole more Spanish into visiting the town. I did read somewhere that our representatives there were concentrating on the domestic market, perhaps that’s their game plan for continued growth, only time will tell.

Of course all of the above are the ‘official’ numbers, whether you choose to believe them or not, but what I would like to know are the numbers for the ‘unofficial tourists’, for want of a better description, who visit Puerto each year, the DIY tourists who rent apartments direct from owners, short term, just for holidays. I know of many apartments let that way and they are nearly always occupied.