European tourism destinations are gleefully queuing up to rake in some extra British pounds after snobbish Spanish industry chiefs said ‘adios’ to our cash.
Earlier this month, tourist chiefs in Lanzarote – one of Spain’s Canary Islands that has long been among Britain’s favourite package holiday destinations – announced they were fed up with UK tourists and would make a concerted effort to attract more visitors from France, Italy and the Netherlands instead.
The comments came weeks after the director of tourism for Spain’s Balearic island of Majorca, Lucia Escribano, declared her industry chiefs ‘are not interested in having budget tourists from the UK’ – as the island attempts to rebrand itself from a destination for cheap drinks and beach parties by limiting the number of UK tourists.
Elsewhere, ‘nuisance’ British tourists have been warned to ‘stay away’ from Amsterdam if they’re only going there for ‘drugs and alcohol’ in a new ‘discouragement campaign’ being targeted at the tourism sector.
Amsterdam’s deputy mayor Sofyan Mbarki defended the new messsage, saying: ‘The aim of the discouragement campaign is to keep out visitors that we do not want. If we love the city, we must take action now.’
Fortunately, the value of British tourists is clearly not lost on other European nations, whose industry chiefs are welcoming visitors from across The Channel with open arms.
The number of tourists expected to visit the holiday hot spots of Europe this year
Lanzarote (pictured) received over 2.5 million visitors last year – more than half of which were Brits
Portugal is welcoming British tourists with open arms (pictured: Albufeira Beach, Algarve, Portugal)
Brits who love budget holidays in Lanzarote, Majorca and other classic destinations may look elsewhere amid recent comments from Spanish tourism chiefs
France’s national tourism development agency said in a recent statement that the British market ‘is always a priority and we must work tirelessly to reinvigorate the flow of tourists towards France’.
It said that Covid was responsible for a notable absence of British tourists, who previously made up almost a fifth of all tourism to France, and instructed industry chiefs to focus on making the jewels of the sector – skiing, cycling and wine tourism – more accessible to invite Brits back to French shores.
Where Brits are welcome and where we’re not!
Amsterdam – ‘Stay away’ campaign
Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca – limiting UK tourists
Spain – £7 tourist tax
Portugal – Scrapping airport waits
France – ‘Brit’s a priority’
Greece – ‘Greekender’ initiative
Portugal meanwhile decided to dismiss EU laws that prevent UK visitors from using e-passport gates due to Brexit in a bit to speed up airport waiting times and facilitate the arrival of British holiday-makers.
At the 2022 World Travel and Tourism Council summit in the Philippines, Portuguese officials revealed they had installed passport e-gate lanes for Britons at airports in Faro in the Algarve, Funchal in Madeira, Lisbon and Porto.
Luis Araujo, president of Portugal’s tourism board, said the move would help ‘our valued British travellers’.
‘We are delighted to continue welcoming British tourists to Portugal… and we are delighted to have made travel to Portugal even more seamless,’ he said.
Other European travel hotspots are keen to keep the Brits coming, too.
At the World Travel Market 2022 expo in November, Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said more than 3 million British travellers had graced Greek shores that year and declared the country was keen to continue bringing more tourists in.
‘Greece is still a wonderful weekend destination these months,’ Kikilias said in November, adding that tour operators were adding increased flights through the month of November and praising the ‘special bond’ between Greece and the UK.
Kikilias also insisted that Greece was interested in offering more than beach package holidays for the budget British traveller.
He announced the launch of the ‘Greekend’ campaign to promote Greek cities – particularly Athens and Thessaloniki – to UK holidaymakers as a destination for weekend city breaks.
Greek tourism minister Minister Vassilis Kikilias said his country was keen to invite more British tourists and promoted the ‘Greekend’ campaign designed to market Greece as a destination for weekend city breaks, not just beach holidays
Turkish tourism bosses have made no bones about their desire to boost the number of incoming Brits (Basilica Cistern in Sarayburnu, Istanbul, Turkey)
Bebek neighbourhood of Istanbul, Turkey, is pictured
Turkish tourism bosses have also been frank about their desire to boost the number of incoming Brits – having enjoyed record numbers of visitors from the UK in 2022.
Go Turkey, the country’s official tourism board, hired brand and public relations consulting firm The PC Agency to boost its marketing operations in the UK and Ireland.
The tourism board is keen to promote the country as a destination for city breaks and beach holidays alike, as well as doubling down on its reputation as a destination for ‘health tourism’ thanks to low price medical and surgical procedures.
Speaking in November last year, culture and tourism minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said: ‘Going into 2022, we already had great confidence in the UK market.
‘These record numbers not only exemplify the importance of the UK to Turkey but highlight our country’s appeal as a year-round destination for British visitors.’
There is no doubt then that British tourists will be welcome throughout Europe should Lanzarote, Majorca and other sought-after sun-spots insist on folding up their sunbeds.
Given that neither region has put forward any plans to cover the losses they are likely to suffer should they double down on driving Britons away from their sunbeds, their holier-than-thou remarks could prove very costly.
Admittedly, British tourists may not have done themselves any favours – stories of bad behaviour on the beach, booze-fuelled brawls in bars and general disregard for the local culture have done nothing to dispel negative stereotypes.
But its indisputable that British pounds are responsible for propping up the economy in many destinations.
Lanzarote president Dolores Corujo, pictured, looks to reduce the island’s dependence on tourists in general but has pointed the finger specifically at Brits
Aerial panoramic view of Costa del Sol, Malaga, Spain
Lanzarote for example received over 2.5 million visitors last year – more than half of which were Brits.
And visitors from the UK are responsible for around a quarter of all tourism to Majorca, second only to sun-loving Germans who make up roughly 40 per cent of visitors.
Meanwhile, a new ‘tourism tax’ proposed by the EU that would see visitors from outside the Schengen zone – including Brits – forced to pay an extra €7 each to travel in Europe has drawn a torrent of criticism from European tourism bosses.
Even some Spanish officials have slammed the proposal, arguing that the European Union is punishing Britain for Brexit while simultaneously making it harder for tourism hotspots to maintain their economies.
Mainland Spain’s Costa del Sol tourism board said in a statement this week: ‘[We are] especially concerned about the impact of this EU tax on British tourism, our main issuing market with 18 million arrivals in 2019.
‘It must also be taken into account that the measure – if it goes ahead – will be added to the rest of local taxes that the tourist is already paying to visit certain European cities.’
Francisco Salado, president of Malaga’s provincial council, also spoke out against the EU tax.
‘Leave tourism alone!’ he told a press conference. ‘Tourism works very well on its own through the sector and the agents involved such as Turismo Costa del Sol and Turismo Andaluz.’
Talking to journalists, he said tourism was the economic engine of Malaga and Andalusia and criticised the prospective tax.
‘Every time we introduce a product, we do it because we improve tourism quality and, in the end, an imposition does not improve the quality.
‘The EU is always inventing how to put new taxes on the municipalities. They legislate up there and we, the city councils and the citizens, pay. I think it is a lack of loyalty that local administrations are not there when making these decisions.’