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A LETTER FROM LAS PALMAS.

A diary of an Irishman who moved to live permanently in Las Palmas Gran Canaria.

Carnival in Las Palmas is a significant event for the population.  The Las Palmas Carnival is one of the largest in the world.  It lasts for one month, and it usually takes place 40 days before Easter. 

 

The Carnival, of course, has been affected like most events by Covid.  Many events took place earlier this year during the regular Carnival dates.

 

The street Carnival was cancelled as it attracts large crowds.   The city decided to stage three days of street carnival in July. 

The Grand Parade was as spectacular as ever, but I felt crowds were down on normal years.  This could be because many people were on holiday or Carnival feels strange in July.

 

It is also possible some people are still not comfortable in large crowds due to Covid. 

 

Role on Carnival 2023 on its proper time. 

So what is the current covid situation on the Canary Islands?  Like most places, the Islands see an increase in Covid rates.   The 7th wave is underway.

 

Currently, the islands only give stats for people over sixty years of age.  The incidence rate for these people has been increasing.

 

Covid cases in hospitals are rising but are nowhere near the numbers of previous waves.  

 

As far as I can tell, there is no appetite for going back to restrictions. 

 

There could be an appetite for more mask use.  The Spanish health minister has recommended that people use masks as much as possible.

 

You only need to wear a mask on public transport and in health settings.  

 

It will be interesting to see if the Carnival will affect numbers in Las Palmas.  I was there and will be again unless I am told it is impossible.

 

It’s time to live again, but each to their own. 

So how is the post-Covid recovery going in the Canary Islands in 2022?

 

We now have numbers for the first five months of 2022.  

Tourist accommodation occupancy began the year with an average occupancy of 60% in January for the Canary Islands.  This was 21% less than pre-covid Jan 2019. 

 

The islands dropped most Covid restrictions in March.  Since then occupancy has been near 2019 levels.  April was actually up 2% v April 2019.  

 

If you are wondering why occupancy was higher in March than in April and May, the Canaries tend to be busier in the winter months.  May is the quietest month of the year. 

The average daily price for accommodation is for a hotel room or an apartment.    Hotels tend to be more expensive than an apartment.

 

Prices have risen each month v the same month pre covid 2019.  April saw a 25% increase.

 

Will the islands continue to recover 2019 levels of tourism in 2022? 

 

Inflation and chaos at airports may have an effect.  We will wait and see how much, if any. 

Earlier this year, the CEO of the recently launched Canarian Airways company said they had had a successful start.

 

He also stated they would have 120 flights in operation by June 2022.

 

Today, the only aircraft in the fleet is grounded for maintenance.   No restart date has been announced to date.

 

The project was launched by a group of 14 hoteliers in Tenerife, and La Palma had its base in Tenerife south airport.

 

The Cabildo de Tenerife gave them its support briefly and then withdrew, citing a lack of reports from the company.

 

The company has said they are now taking advantage of the stoppage to evaluate how they will rebuild the business.

 

As someone who has worked in the hotel business, I could not understand why hoteliers were getting involved in the airline business. 

 

The Canaries are well served by all of the low-cost airlines.   Could the hotels run an airline more efficiently than Ryanair or Easyjet?   I don’t think so. 

 

At least someone in Government in Tenerife had some sense to back off before taxpayers’ money was wasted. 

Spain is now just one of four EU countries with some Covid restrictions.  

 

Spain still requires non-EU adults to have either a vaccine. A covid recovery cert or having a negative test.

 

The restrictions were extended up to the 15th of July. They are expected to be removed, but with the recent rise in covid rates, removal may be postponed. 

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