Canary Islands beg for Brexit deal to keep UK tourists on side as economy threatened

Britons account for the majority of tourists visiting the Spanish archipelago and island leaders are demanding they retain freedom of movement into the region.

Tenerife’s president Carlos Alonso is leading the bid, submitting plans to the Spanish government and EU for smooth travel between Britain and the Canaries in the wake of Brexit.

He will need his allies in Madrid to lobby for a good Brexit deal on his behalf to ensure Tenerife’s economy is not decimated by a loss of tourism income.

Mr Alonso told reporters: “The aim is to maintain the existing conditions and relations between the Canaries and the UK and therefore exclude the Canaries and Tenerife of the effects of Brexit.

“With the Canaries already benefiting from special measures and exemptions in EU policies, including agricultural policies, fiscal policies and commercial policies, because we are a small territory, very far from the mainland. 

“Our bid will maintain free movement, trade, services and capital between the island and Britain post Brexit and allow the islands to deal with the UK as a third-party country.”

As the British market is the largest source of tourism for the island, the Canary government, especially Tenerife, would like to maintain “the fruitful relations with our British friends, based on the strong historical linkages and in a rich social and economic relation which we want to reinforce in the future”.

He added: “We are asking that we be able to maintain the current framework we have with the UK, with free movement of goods, of services including tourism, of people and of capital, which is in the mutual interest of both parties.”

It follows amid fears for the country’s fish and seafood markets.

Britain takes more of Norway’s fish and seafood exports that any other European Union country – making the Scandinavian nation fearful for its economic prospects.

Norway’s fisheries minister Peter Sandberg said: “Our largest trading partner for white fish is the UK. 

“Last year Norway exported goods for £14.4billion (NOK 154bn) to the British Isles. Exports of seafood have also risen sharply in recent years.

“In particular, it is the most important ingredient for fish and chips – and it is what the British want.”

Although Norway was not involved in the Brexit negations, Mr Sandberg said its EEA membership means the country would be affected by the outcome and it would need a good deal.