Moisés Jorge – Director of Fuerteventura's Tourism Board
“We must remember that the island's economy is based on tourism only”
We are meeting Moisés Jorge, who found time for us in his busy schedule to give us a summary of the tourism results for 2019 and how he forecasts 2020.
What was the result of the past year on a tourism level?
In 2019, various circumstances happened at the same time, which resulted in a bad year on tourism and financial level. The main one was a recession that took place in Germany as well as the collapse of various airlines in that country, which means that we lost a lot of tourists, especially on the German market, which was unexpected. Furthermore, the summer was very hot there and German tourists didn't get motivated to travel to a sun and beach destination. Then the collapse of Thomas Cook affected the British market as they had nine weekly flights. Thankfully, other British operators reacted quickly and the situation is back to normal. Although we feared the worse for an affiliated airline, Condor, that has 19 weekly flights to Fuerteventura, thankfully, this airline did not collapse. It was purchased by a Polish company and it keeps on operating normally with Fuerteventura. There was also the international blockage of the Boeing 737 plane model that wasn't allowed to fly.
Further to your trip to FITUR, can you tell us about the positive and negative agreements that will affect tourism for the next season?
We started receiving notifications from various airlines, tour operators and programmes, we even ran that information with AENA to check that it was correct. We took advantage of FITUR to meet each emitting market personally. We had 33 meetings in total, which we were satisfied about. The results tell us that the next summer-winter 2020-2021 season will be positive. On the international market, we are the only island in the Canaries where the German market will grow. It will be an increase of about 30%, representing about 115.000 additional airplane seats. The FTI operator is putting up a daily charter flight again between Germany and Fuerteventura, with an airline that they purposely purchased. On the national market, we will get an increase of 7 to 8%. For example, Iberia will have one more daily flight with Madrid and additional connections with Seville, Bilbao and Barcelona with Vueling, the flights of Malaga and Santiago de Compostela remain unchanged.
It was a series of unexpected negative coincidences that created a negative year 2019, but it seems that the winds have turned for a better year 2020.
We are pleased to see that in less than five months we changed a negative situation into a positive one. During a meeting we had at the Cabildo with the ayuntamientos in order to analyse the crisis of the sector, one of the first measures taken for 2020, was to allocate one more million for tourism promotion. With instructions from the president, Blas Acosta to negotiate with any operator or airline to reinforce the aerial connectivity towards the island, I travelled in December to Hannover to the head office of TUI and I had a six-hour-long meeting with the directors of that company. They explained to me the differences that there are with our competitors such as Turkey, Greece and Egypt. The type of tourist is changing and at very short term, the clients are going to expect more from their destinations and we must start working on it right now.
Can you give us an example?
Ensure that small businesses or touristic areas can offer experiences to visitors in addition to what hotels, resorts, etc., are proposing. We will make a difference from our competition by providing leisure experiences at a very high level in order to satisfy the demand. TUI told us that if Fuerteventura works well at it, there wouldn't be any problem to maintain the spaces because the island is consolidated with this company. The problem of the island isn't obsolescence, but the necessity to update in order to keep on being competitive. This company provides the greatest amount of seats from Germany for next summer, which is why we are the number one island for German tourists. The spaces are already available and they need to be sold, we must all work to ensure that this destination is demanded, for the leisure offer, the attractions, the natural and touristic resources and as I have always said, there is no magic formula, it is a case of working well. We want the tourism councils in each municipality to be more present and to have larger budgets so that they can organise more than a few celebrations and print leaflets. They should be the main council within each ayuntamiento so that they are able to maintain the touristic areas in a perfect state. We must remember that the island's economy is based on tourism only. There is no alternative to this economy and we are not looking after tourism as we should.