Sunday, February 11, 2018

Surprise in island tourism statistics

Beach in La Gomera's busiest resort of Valle Gran Rey during peak season this winter
I recently came across the following post and statistics on, an online travel magazine and I researched the figures further. The statistics compare the number of visitors in island holiday destinations worldwide with the number of island inhabitants. The figures are based on 2016 statistics and since then there has been a decline in population on La Gomera and an increase in tourism numbers. So I wonder where La Gomera would rank now. Here's the main part of the article:

''...Islands are a different matter. There’s generally more space to absorb visitors so that personality and culture aren’t necessarily unduly diluted… as long as the balance doesn’t shift too far.
Meeting the challenges posed by the impact of tourism on popular holiday islands is (was -ed.) an agenda item for the Smart Island World Congress in Mallorca between 20 and 21 April 2017.
In the run up to the conference, Spanish tourism news portal Hostaltur published a report about the numbers of tourists per 100 residents on 25 islands. The results were interesting and might surprise some people.
The island which had the fewest number of visitors per 100 resident was Trinidad & Tobago with 30, followed by Cuba with 35.
Topping the chart with 2,217 visitors to every 100 locals was Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. Second was Lanzarote with 2,097. After that was the Balearic trio of Ibiza (2,096), Menorca (1,520), and Mallorca (1,258).
What’s particularly interesting about Fuerteventura and Lanzarote is that Tenerife (648) and Gran Canaria (503) are often seen as the bad boys of mass tourism in the Canary Islands. But they didn’t even come third out of the archipelago. That position went to La Gomera with 782 visitors to every 100 Gomerans. Both La Palma (279) and El Hierro (156) came out with quite low visitor to resident ratios, no surprise to anyone who knows those islands. But not as low as distant neighbour Cape Verde where numbers were almost on a par (101).
These figures don’t necessarily mean an island with a high visitor to resident ratio is more spoiled in tourism terms than an island with a low ratio, that’s clearly far too simplistic a formula. Many other factors need to be taken into account.
However, there’s no doubt that when the visitor/resident ratio is high, local culture can be diluted more when there’s not a significantly large resident population to counter the impact of high numbers of tourists...'' (buzztrips)

Surprised like I was? Anyone who knows La Gomera will agree that La Gomera still comes across as a quiet, laid-back, rural  island 'untouched' by mass tourism and full of natural beauty where vast areas are protected and left to nature. In fact the whole island of La Gomera has been declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO a few years ago and the uninhabited national park and forest have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986. La Gomera, 'the island without traffic lights', has a population of only about 20.000, though. Also, what may be distorting the tourist/inhabitant ratio are the day trippers and organised day tours from Tenerife (a lot !) - and maybe to a much lesser degree the increasing cruise ship traffic, but that is counted in the rest of the world, too. Anyway, the list of the top 12 islands in the world receiving the most visitors per 100 inhabitants comes as a surprise:
  1. Fuerteventura: 2.217 turistas por cada 100 habitantes.
  2. Lanzarote: 2.097 por cada 100 habitantes.
  3. Ibiza-Formentera: 2.096 por cada 100 habitantes.
  4. Menorca: 1.520 por cada 100 habitantes.
  5. Mallorca: 1.258 por cada 100 habitantes.
  6. La Gomera: 782 por cada 100 habitantes.
  7. Tenerife: 648 por cada 100 habitantes.
  8. Islas Cook: 587 por cada 100 habitantes.
  9. Gran Canaria: 503 por cada 100 habitantes.
  10. Bahamas: 361 por cada 100 habitantes.
  11. Maldivas: 326 por cada 100 habitantes.
  12. La Palma: 279 por cada 100 habitantes.


Old Book Mark said...

You say that the low numbers of visitors to El Hierro and La Palma are no surprise to anyone who knows the islands. I have never been to them but I am always tempted to try them out rather than returning to La Gomera another time. So I guess I am asking what's wrong with them? Or is it just that they are that bit more remote?



La Gomera said...

H, the post is not about the number of tourists in total, but the tourist ratio per 100 inhabitants. La Palma gets a lot more tourists in total than La Gomera, but has a much larger population, bringing down the ratio. La Palma also has an international airport with direct flights from northern Europe bringing a high tourist volume and several very large hotels, etc., which La Gomera doesn't have.
El Hierro on the other hand receives comparatively few tourists, due to lacking tourism infrastructure, remoteness and the volcanic activity a few years ago.