Why being competitive matters!

 

Spanish minister visits South Tenerife

Spain’s tourism minister was in South Tenerife today and met with the mayors of the Canarian Tourism Boroughs Association (AMTC) who impressed on her the need to improve funding to aid in upgrading many aspects of the sector.

Reyes Maroto met with the mayors who are part of the AMTC who outlined the realities of the sector to her during her working visit, as well as the challenges and objectives for the top line Canarian destinations in the coming years to ensure they remain competitive.

José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga, president of the AMTC; and José Julián Mena, Arona mayor, welcomed the minister to the Arona Gran Hotel on behalf of the association. Also present were Marco Aurelio Pérez, mayor of San Bartolomé, Onalia Bueno, mayor of Mogán, and Pedro Martín, mayor of Guía de Isora. The minister was accompanied by regional government representative Elena Máñez and the director general of Turespaña, Héctor Gómez. During the morning the minister visited different parts of the zone.

 

Commenting on the visit, Rodríguez Fraga said, “it would seem that, at last, Madrid is realising the value of tourism in the Canarias and what we, the main tourism boroughs, contribute to the Spanish economy and society”. There was reference to the national budget allocation to the region- 1% – regardless of the fact that these tourism boroughs contribute 30% of the Canarian GDP and 6% at national level. The association continues to press for the national government to change the manner of costing and finance to reflect the contribution made by the member boroughs. This is in light of the fact that funding is allocated from central government based on the numbers of residents registered even though in many of the tourism boroughs the actual numbers of people living and staying there and using municipal services is far in excess of the resident register numbers. This inconsistency can affect important bodies too like regional police and other security details.

There was a question as to whether the PITCAN, a Canarian tourism infrastructure plan involving regional and national administrations, should be reactivated,

Other matters discussed included the need for tourism boroughs to be at the vanguard of digitial innovations – “5G is the future and we need to improve our digital connectivity” – said the mayor of San Bartolomé de Tirajana. “If we want to remain competitive and ahead of our rivals, the digital agenda has to be addressed”.

Pedro Martín and Onalia Bueno outlined to the minister the importance of a transversal axis of administrations and other bodies. “Tourism is more than promotion. It brings a series of needs and realities together that need to be managed, issues of quality and good service, caring for those who live here as well as those who visit and use the local services and infrastructure”.

Department of Communications

A fair deal for tourism boroughs

New Spanish minister for tourism offers an alliance with the AMTC

During the opening session today of the inaugural conference of the Association for Canarian Tourism Boroughs, the AMTC, the newly appointed national tourism minister Isabel Oliver Sagreras said the government in Madrid were happy to be allied with the association. She also spoke of the search for a “social balance” in tourism between the needs of the visitors and the rights of the residents in tourism destinations. “Residents have a right to an opinion too, and we have to be aware of the impact of tourism on where we live”. Sustainability was vital in this regard – “economic and territorial. It was also crucial that workers right to training and proper contracts and wages was respected and upheld.

The conference, being held in Adeje, was organised by the AMTC, with over 100 invited participants both from the member boroughs as well as relevant professional sectors. Speakers from the Canarian universities are also present during the two day event, June 22nd and 23rd.

During the afternoon session on Friday there were seven round-table discussions on what are considered the main themes in need of attention: governing tourism, overnight stays – including holiday rental, sustainability, training and employment, planning and management, integration and innovation, and digitalisation.

The president of the association and mayor of Adeje, José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga said that the Canaries “has to adapt to the new tourism model, based on quality and sustainability if we wish to maintain our position as leaders in the sector among European destinations.” He pointed to the main challenges as “capturing the new mid and mid-high income tourist, keeping the 15 million annual visitors we have and making sure we keep the €20 million that the sector generates for the islands”, and to do that we have to improve in quality, diversity and sustainability.

Modernising the existing hotels was another crucial point, the AMTC president stressed. “We need to also reform the existing tourism law to meet the needs of sustainable growth but without getting rid of the moratorium in place and we also have to treat holiday letting as another branch of tourism. Our objective is to have an availability of 450,000 overnight places with an average occupation rate of between 70% and 80% with an average stay of 7 days.”

Digitalisation was mentioned as a tool for improving competitivity in the sector by up to 20%. Employment and training are also pillars of any advancement with the creation of up to 100,000 new jobs under discussion. Among the essential educational requirements, said Rodriguez Fraga, has to be language training. “Learning other languages is something we do need to be better at and improve education options. We are also committed to equal opportunities and will work to eliminate any gender or age discriminatory gaps.”

Referring to the seven main tourist áreas in the island – South Teneirfe, Southern Gran Canaria, La Oliva – Yaiza, Jandía, Arrecife – Tías – Teguise, North Tenerife and Islas Verdes) Rodríguez Fraga pointed to the huge problems in roads, public transport, ports and airports, and that given the 16 million visitors who visit these areas annually proper planning and integrated development was essential. He also used the visit of the newly appointed Spanish tourism minister to reiterate a key point of the AMTC – the need for increased funding from central coffers given that “tourism creates over 30% of GDP but these boroughs only receive 1% of regional funding and less than 1% from the general budgetary fund….the reality is”, he said, “that we look after over twice the numbers on the residential register”. (Boroughs receive central funding for residents registered on the ‘padrón’ for services, etc.).

The conference continues tomorrow in the CDTCA, in Adeje.

“We cannot continue patching up the problems…”

The AMTC says there is a lack of proper dialogue

 

The mayors of the five member boroughs of the AMTC (Association of Canarian Tourism Municipalities) and the mayor of Pájara (pending membership) took part in a round table discussion yesterday at the ‘Futurismo Canarian 2018’ conference in Arona. Also at the table were the Cabildo president and the regional deputy tourism minister. Discussion focussed on challenges and opportunities for Canarian tourism boroughs the participants examined relevant data from each area and spoke of the “definition of a development model for such an important sector in the archipelago”.

Adeje, Arona, Guía de Isora, San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Mogán and Pájara between them earn 30% of the GDP derived from tourism, and more in secondary income, as Arona mayor José JulianMena explained. “We welcome 7.8 million tourists annually…over 65 million overnights making us a very important tourism resource at European level”. He continued, “the monies we receive for public infrastructure is not in any way equal…the historical investment deficit and bad planning is generating serious problems in mobility and in the end we will lose the competitive edge…we cannot continue patching up the problems such as the south motorway, the secondary roads, the airport or the Los Cristianos port”, he insisted.

During the morning the presidents of the association, and Adeje mayor José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga, alongside the other mayors, detailed actions they are taking as the AMTC, including the preparation of a detailed response to the proposed decree on holiday rentals. Fraga said “we believe there are some contradictions in the proposed decree and we have to be heard on this sensitive matter. We will insist on regulations that are intelligently designed to deal with the problem and turn it into an opportunity”. They will be looking for meetings with the regional government to talk about the law dealing with the coordination of local police forces and other matters which directly affect their borough members.

The mayors also reiterated that among the principal difficulties identified in tourism destinations are mobility, sustainability, necessary language training, financing adapted to the boroughs and investment in public infrastructures.

The mayor of Pájara, Rafael Perdomo spoke of the main problems his borough is facing; “The transformation of an older destination into one that is competitive on its own merits, not due to problems with other destinations, and improvements in public infrastructures”. He also emphasised the value of an organisation such as this one.

Cabildo president Carlos Alonso said he was still unsure as to the exact role of the AMTC as “they haven’t explained it to us”, but said he was happy to advance dialogue between tourism boroughs. The merit of dialogue was agreed by all present. Onalia Bueno, mayor of Mogán, said “we are the most important boroughs from a tourism point of view in the Canarias and we have to be listened to and acknowledged by Cabildos, the regional government, nationally and at European level because we firmly believe we have to have an active role in the decisions which affect the sector”.

Adeje mayor added “there is a lack of real dialogue, where we are being listened to, we have particular issues which need to be resolved…”, stating that tourism and the benefits that arise from the sector need to be seen to benefit the people involved and improve the quality of life of those in the sector.