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.