Canary Islands seek “silver tourists” after coronavirus pandemic puts huge dent in British market and wipes out massive flight network
The Canary Islands are launching a major campaign to attract a new breed of holidaymaker, the “silver tourist”, after losing millions of visitors to the coronavirus crisis.Government leaders say recovery is going to be a slow process following nearly four months of “zero tourism” and no indication yet as to when the huge British market will be able to start again.But the Canary government is already making extensive plans to fight back and is looking for long-stay clients who can stay two to three months on the islands, which include Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, and have more disposable income.The “silver tourist” is described as over 60 years of age, “with a resolved working life, retired or close to doing so, with economic stability and with time available.”The Canaries will also be looking for “digital nomads”, those people who can work electronically and remotely no matter where they are in the world.The islands usually have 15 million visitors every year but fear they will end 2020 with just three million.Tourism minister, Yaiza Castilla said the recovery of tourist destinations was subject to the control of the pandemic at both national and international level, with destinations and point of origin needing the same level of coronavirus trends.”We know it’s not the perfect formula but it is the one that gives us the most guarantees to minimise risks for both us, the population and workers in the sector, and for our visitors,” she said. “It’s the only way to regain the trust of our visitors and therefore tourism must transmit and provide security.”She confirmed the islands would be ready for international opening in July, with the Spanish government ending its quarantine rule on July 1st and allowing some borders to open but not all.
The UK is highly unlikely to be among the first wave.The Canary government says the “silver tourist” and “digital nomad” are not intended to replace the traditional markets but will be added to them with special campaigns to help bridge the gap.The islands are also calling for urgent help from Brussels after saying the network of flights from numerous countries built up through hard work over many years has been wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.Before Covid-19, the Canaries had a network that connected the islands with 150 airports in 27 different countries through 350 direct links and some 20 million planes arriving each year.Tourism chiefs want a new incentive scheme for airlines.”The emergence of COVID-19 and restrictions on mobility and the closure of borders have meant the immediate loss of the entire network of Canary air routes that it took so many years to establish,” said Yaiza Castilla. “For the recovery of tourism, it is urgent to restore the air connectivity of the Canary Islands, which is why, from the Canary Islands Government, we are working on a proposal to Brussels for a new instrument, with an incentive scheme, for capturing air routes.”The tourism minister says the remote position of the Canaries has to be recognised.