There’s still some money around

DEAR reader, I hope this finds you in top form, untouched by strife or worry?

We’re scraping through down here, having largely escaped the now-to-next-May mainland measures, so far.

Let’s see how we fare with tourism during what we used to quaintly call high season. Most European countries are locked down, so we’ll be spared the danger of making too much money.

Luckily, we’ll also be spared the danger of the few arriving tourists bringing us Covid, after the Canarian government decree that nobody enters the islands after 14/11 without a negative Covid test result.

President Ángel Victor Torres is doing a good job in tough times, but he can’t work miracles: over 60 Canarian hotels are currently for sale at prices of between €1 to €30 million.

These pandemic victims, mainly smaller or medium sized hotels, were KO’d in their fight to survive. Most are in Playa del Inglés, Puerto Rico and Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, a few in Fuerteventura, fewer still in Lanzarote and Tenerife.

Larger scale, custom built tourist resorts, more dependent on one nationality tour operators, are going under first. Putting all your eggs in one basket continues to be risky, it seems.

Self catering and small pension and hotel accommodation on the smaller islands of El Hierro, La Gomera, La Palma and La Graciosa is exempt so far.

Catering for independent travellers, they are small scale and often run by just one person who can choose to shut down, plant veg and wait for things to get better, but there are plenty of failing peripheral businesses and the highest unemployment in Spain throughout the Canaries.

On a more optimistic note, life does continue without tourism. There’s still some money around and it’s being spent on improving sports facilities, historical sites and future plans, all good for When This is Over.

Gran Canaria’s Athletics Stadium in Vecindario has just been reopened after a €1 million makeover. Island president, Antonio Morales, expressed satisfaction that: “…this great facility has been renovated to such high standards for the use of the community,” while a more modest project on El Hierro sees work under way to renovate the Centro de Deportes in capital Valverde.

La Fortaleza, a flat-topped volcanic meseta and one of La Gomera’s most emblematic sites, is to be investigated, mapped and conserved in a long overdue nod to its importance.

The original population reputedly took refuge from invading Spanish here, leaping to their deaths rather than suffer capture. This project is one of the many benefits of the island’s adherence to the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism.

There’s a precedent here. We could take refuge up there if the negative test plan doesn’t work out and infected tourists invade, though I’d need a shove to go over the edge.

Those who prefer to take refuge with hashish will be discouraged to hear that the 300 kilos, in nine blocks, found floating between Fuerteventura and Lanzarote is now in police custody being ‘meticulously examined.’

Keep well!

Barbara Belt

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Barbara Belt