Jet2’s CEO has demanded an explanation from Lanzarote’s president over what he called ‘inflammatory and offensive’ remarks after she said the island’s tourist industry was aiming to rely less on Brits in favour of ‘higher quality holidaymakers’.
Airline boss Steve Heapy has sent a letter to Dolores Corujo asking her to clarify her statements and whether she wants tourists from the UK to come to the Canary island.
Mr Heapy told Travel Weekly: ‘As the largest UK tour operator to Lanzarote, I contacted her for clarification over her inflammatory and quite frankly offensive comments about British tourists.’
He added that he wanted to know ‘what she means and to what extent she wants to reduce British tourism.’
This follows Corujo’s comments last week that claimed Lanzarote was being saturated by British tourists and that the island instead wanted to accommodate more ‘higher quality’ travellers from mainland Europe.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2, is said to have sent a letter to Lanzarote president Dolores Corujo asking her to clarify her comments
Jet 2 sends around 625,000 tourists to Lanzarote each year to enjoy its volcanic beaches
Speaking in Berlin earlier this month, Ms Corujo said she did not want Lanzarote to have to depend on large volumes of British tourists, and would instead seek to attract higher-spending holidaymakers from Germany, the Netherlands, and France.
Mr Heapy said the president’s comments have ‘left the hotelier community asking the same questions.’
The Jet2 boss also added that he had ‘extreme concern’ after the president vowed to steer the island away from British holidaymakers as her statements would have ‘a very detrimental effect on British tourists’ who chose to holiday on the island, The Canarian Weekly reported. Jet2 has been approached for comment.
Jet2 is the UK’s largest holiday tour operator. The company sends around 625,000 tourists to Lanzarote each year.
Mr Heapy said there was now a lot at stake for the company and for the tourism industry, The Canarian Weekly reported. Despite Ms Corujo pivoting the island’s future tourism strategy away from Brits, he said Jet2 had heavily invested in Lanzarote.
The company has contracts with 111 hotels, 46 villas, and 8 resorts across Lanzarote, playing a crucial role in the island’s economy.
Last week, Ms Corujo told German tourist representatives that their market aligned with her intention to bring a ‘higher-quality’ tourism to the island.
She said: ‘It’s essential to work on the diversification of the sector and the growth of markets like the German market, which adapt to our intentions of aiming at higher-quality tourism and holidaymakers who spend more when they’re here and moves us away from mass tourism.’
Ms Corujo is pivoting the island’s future tourism strategy away from British holidaymakers
Ms Corujo said she would instead seek to attract higher-spending holidaymakers from Germany, the Netherlands, and France
Ms Corujo’s statement taking a swipe at British holidaymakers was subsequently published across the UK press.
Mr Heapy said he had ‘extreme concern regarding the articles that have been published in the main print and online newspapers in the United Kingdom this weekend’.
He said it would have ‘a very detrimental effect on British tourists who are choosing Lanzarote for their holidays this year.’
Ms Corujo has for months appeared to warn against UK travellers. Last month she declared the Canary island was saturated with British tourists and wanted a new approach to their tourism industry.
She claimed the change of profile would bring in fewer visitors ‘with a greater spending in the destination’.
Lanzarote tourist board information shows Britons spend an average of €34.94 per day on the island, more than most foreign visitors.
Moreover, around half of all the tourists who visit the island are British. In 2019 there were a total of 1.3 million UK visitors to Lanzarote.
This is four times more than Germany at 309,000, with Ireland sending 285,000 and France totalling 115,000.
Lanzarote is sticking to its guns in its bid to ‘desaturate’ the island from too many tourists and become less dependent on British visitors
Lanzarote island president María Dolores Corujo (pictured second-right) has pioneered the new approach to attract more mainland European visitors instead of Brits
Despite this Ms Corujo has pinned the island’s future tourism strategy on one of ‘diversification to reduce the dependence on the British market’ and what she claims will welcome more ‘upmarket’ holidaymakers.
Tourist Federation of Lanzarote has also sought to distance itself from Ms Corujo’s remarks.
A spokesperson told Travel Weekly that it hoped Ms Corujo would explain her comments and ‘hold the necessary meetings with representatives of the British market’ to provide them with reasurance.
‘We have always had very strong ties with the British market. Lanzarote is an absolutely hospitable island and will continue to be so for British tourists,’ the spokesperson added.
MailOnline has approached The Tourist Federation of Lanzarote for comment.