Lanzarote plans to limit the number of visitors from the UK after declaring itself a “tourist-saturated area”.
The island is a popular holiday spot among British tourists, but the local government has said it wants to reduce its dependence on the British market.
President of the Lanzarote Council Dolores Courjo has confirmed plans to limit UK visitors - who currently make up more than half of all guests - as part of a new tourism strategy.
The local government says close to 16.5 million holidaymakers arrived in Lanzarote last year and this will be the “absolute ceiling” for future years, with President Courjo saying overcrowding is an existential threat to the island.
The move is part of a broader strategy to diversify the islands’ tourism industry and attract visitors from other countries. This may cause some short-term losses for businesses that rely heavily on British visitors, but it is hoped the plan will ultimately benefit the local economy by welcoming fewer tourists with greater spending power.
The local government has yet to finalise the details of the proposed plan, but discussions have already taken place among residents, business owners and ecologists who all agreed the island is saturated and something needs to be done to address this.
Authorities have not yet set out details as to how limits on British tourists would be imposed or what the official ‘limit’ would be, but the council website indicates that tourism authorities will soon start targeting marketing toward other European countries.
A statement on the website reads: “In Madrid, we once again highlighted our firm commitment to sustainability and excellence, and this also means aspiring to receive fewer tourists, with more spending at the destination so that they generate greater wealth in the economy as a whole.
“That growth is expected in French, Italian, Netherlands or mainland Spain markets and we hope that it will continue to have a direct impact on the increase in tourist spending in the destination.”
The local opposition party has condemned the plans which it claims would drive up prices for locals and devastate the local economy. It could also face strong opposition with the director for the Spanish Tourist Office in the UK, who has insisted that Spain would not “discriminate by type of visitor”.
The announcement has also spurred other countries such as France and Portugal to release statements reminding Brits that they and their spending power are still more than welcome.
Many British holidaymakers are furious over the proposals and have hit out at the plans to limit the number of UK guests.
One British tourist, David, told NationalWorldTV: “[It’s] absolutely disgusting. Who says the Germans are more wealthy than I am? I’ve got as much right to be here as anybody else has and I think this is all political mumbo-jumbo and they should get on with life and let us all continue to do what we want to do.”
Fellow UK visitor Pauline said: “I’m offended that the Lanzarote government don’t want so many Brits here. We spend as much money as the Germans, the French and Italians. So what beef have they got about the Brits?”
Holidaymaker Ann, who was in Lanzarote with fellow Brits Lyn and Julia, added: “We came when there were no roads, it was dangerous to walk about, it was a bomb site everywhere. And now it’s lovely they want to get rid of us. Thirty five years we’ve been coming.”
Could other Spanish destinations take a similar approach?
Lanzarote isn’t the only tourist hotspot in Spain that is planning to reduce its reliance on British holidaymakers. The Balearic Islands, including Majorca, Menorca, and Ibiza, have also announced plans to cap British tourist numbers.
In 2022, more than 16 million holidaymakers visited the islands. Balearic Islands tourism minister Iago Negueruela said: “The number of visits reached this year is a maximum that should not be exceeded but should tend to decrease. There must be a clear trend towards the reduction of tourist places.”
The islands were historically hotspots for so-called ‘party tourism’, but last year Spanish authorities imposed tough new regulations to target drunken revellers. It saw alcohol drink limits put in place in many all-inclusive resorts in Magaluf, El Arenal and Ibiza, while happy hours, pub crawls, two-for-one drink offers and the sale of alcohol in shops between 9.30pm and 8am was also banned.