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Hoteliers in Spain’s Canary Islands are being urged to accelerate the construction of new holiday properties as a spree of terrorist attacks in the Mediterranean prompts airlines to switch capacity to markets perceived as safer by tourists.
Tenerife, the biggest of the islands and the most popular with visitors, effectively ran out of beds over the winter, while a general shortage of accommodation pushed up room prices as much as 15 percent, according to Sophie Dekkers, UK regional manager at discount carrier EasyJet Plc. That increase is expected to continue into the summer, she said.
The position of the Canaries off Morocco’s Atlantic coast makes the archipelago a year-round destination for sun-loving north Europeans, and a natural candidate for extra flights following the attacks in North Africa, Turkey and the French Riviera. EasyJet has also held talks with the Greek Tourism Board on extending the holiday season there, while tour operator Thomas Cook Group Plc is adding capacity in markets including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Portugal.
“We’ve been working very closely with the Canarian government to talk about accelerating hotel projects,” Dekkers said in an interview at London Gatwick airport, where Luton, England-based EasyJet has its biggest hub. “We know the demand is there, let’s make sure the hotels are being built, make sure they’re getting support so they can be completed.”
EasyJet is also evaluating new routes to the Canaries targeting areas less well known to Britons. Those include the northwest island of La Palma, which it currently serves only from Gatwick and which traditionally attracts more German tourists, and Tenerife-North, located on the other side of the island from the larger resorts and currently more popular with Spanish visitors.
Like Thomas Cook and TUI AG, the discount airline also plans to expand in the Balkans, adding frequencies to Croatia, starting a new route to Montenegro and evaluating flights from the U.K. into Bulgaria. It’s also reviewing service levels to some Turkish beach resorts where demand may be beginning to recover as traveler concerns focus more on major cities.
The U.K., which accounts for about 40 percent of EasyJet’s revenue, is currently exhibiting high single-digit growth, Dekkers said. While that’s on a par with the airline’s other operations, it’s slightly behind previous years, when Britain tended to offset slower expansion elsewhere, she said.
Inbound travel hasn’t been as strong as initially anticipated after the pound slumped in the wake of June’s vote to quit the European Union, making the U.K. a cheaper destination for visitors. That suggests travelers from other EU states fear they’ll be less welcome, or that concerns about attacks on London are acting as a disincentive, Dekkers said.
Tickets for next winter will go on sale in the next month and should indicate if a slump in fares is starting to level off, she said, as well as provide pointers as to whether carriers are beginning to limit seat supply.
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.
This article was written by Benjamin Katz from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.