Hola Fernando! As the official representative of the Gran Canaria Tourist Office in Germany, based in Berlin, can you give us an insight into the spirit and the current status of the travel situation to Gran Canaria?
The spirit of the travel industry is generally very subdued, as the situation with travel and mobility is uncertain and unstable.
However, the situation in Gran Canaria with regards to the pandemic is good. The destination has had a very low incidence of new infections since mid-October. The island is open, safe and completely ready to receive customers.
Since the German travel warning was lifted, we see more and more inquiries and bookings week after week, and the internet search for information has also increased significantly. However, business is on a rather low level and booking is made at very short notice. We have to work day in and day out to win back customer trust, but we are optimistic and observe every day how airlines and tour operators are increasingly focusing on the Canary Islands.
Of course, the level doesn’t compare to previous years, but given the declines caused by the pandemic, the increase in interest is significant.
Overall, we have more online bookings, but mostly through tour operators – a package tour is safer for consumers. As mentioned before, the majority of bookings are very short notice – around 70% are made in a slot before the travel date. So, we see that customers have a great longing for travel, but are very careful when booking.
Where do you see the current trends in demand and how have the hotels in Gran Canaria adapted to the pandemic?
The hotels here have generally been super prepared. Many have repurposed their functions, offer new concepts and long-term stays (for remote workers) and have observed all safety regulations.
The need for nature, space, fresh air and the sea is also obvious. I don’t mean the classic beach vacation, but as an approach for MICE company programs that are carried out in the country, in fincas or small hotels, in nature and in the mountains. There are many opportunities and surprises for team buildings, workshops and trainings.
The demand for small groups is overall increasing and that is also interesting for the MICE and conference industry, e.g. can such offers be used by remote working teams from international companies who work together on projects. For teams like this, it is a great solution to work together on problem solutions in a safe and secure manner, in the clean nature of the island.
Apartment complexes and small hotels are being partially converted, and tour operators are also increasingly offering trips for customers who work from home. The hotels offer hybrid rooms, technical support, special prices for stays between 4-12 weeks. Gran Canaria has long focused on solutions for the target groups of digital nomads and home office workers and that is now our benefit. Of course, the Convention Bureau knows best about special hotels or providers.
The internet connectivity in Gran Canaria is good and fast – Spain is generally well positioned with broad network availability.
The travel restrictions were lifted at the end of October – which airlines will now offer direct flights to Gran Canaria in winter 2020/21 from German-speaking markets?
– CONDOR: Frankfurt, Hamburg
– EASYJET: Berlin
– EUROWINGS: Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart
– LUFTHANSA: Frankfurt, Munich
-TUI Fly: Berlin, Colonia, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich
– SUNDAIR: Berlin, Düsseldorf, Bremen, Kassel, Dresden
– CORENDON: from February, but the cities have not yet been determined.
– Austria: Ryanair from Vienna / Switzerland: Easyjet from Basel and Edelweiss from Zurich
And how are the opening conditions for restaurants?
Hotels and restaurants and terraces as well as pubs and beach restaurants close at 24.00 at the latest, and no new guests will be received after 23.00 o’clock. The minimum distance between tables, groups or the counter is 1.5 meters, with a maximum occupancy of ten people per table or group. Self-service items and / or frequently used products such as napkin rings, sugar bowls and menus have been removed, the menus have been replaced with QR codes, posters or similar means. The tables are cleaned and disinfected before setting.
And in general what are the most important conditions for a stay in Gran Canaria?
Since 11/23 all travelers who come from a risk country must present a PCR test with a negative result. This must have been carried out a maximum of 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain.
In addition, you have to fill out and sign an online health control form (Formio de control sanitario / FCS). This form can be found on the Spain Travel Health Portal. After signing, you will receive a QR code that you have to present when entering Gran Canaria.
Spain has also introduced a special AXA Corona insurance for tourists since mid-August 2020
We don’t hope it’s necessary, but what is the medical care like in Gran Canaria?
It is absolutely up to the European standards, there are state and private hospitals and all are well equipped for any emergency. There are also enough intensive care beds (just in case) and we are well prepared to treat tourists.
Last but not least – how has your work changed this year? What is your focus?
I work more with the big tour operators and travel agency chains. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to gain much additional expertise of the MICE area. But Sergio Maccanti from the Convention Bureau is the right person to talk to. He will also conduct the upcoming webinar which I am looking forward to!
Here you can pre-register for the Gran Canaria Expert Discussion Webinar on December 10th.
Gran Canaria Convention Bureau, Sergio Maccanti