We all remember the magnificent film by Luis García Berlanga, Welcome Mr Marshall, in which the filmmaker satires the Spanish society of the time (during the implementation of the Marshall Plan in 1948), duped by North American capitalism. The citizens of a small Castilian town spent weeks preparing for the visit of US diplomats with the aim of being beneficiaries of economic aid from the Marshall Plan. However, the Americans passed through the town without even stopping. It is clear that this is fiction, and that it has nothing to do with reality, but it is true that the new route Tenerife South-New York which will begin operating on June 9, is awaited with the same enthusiasm with which the residents of that small Spanish town awaited the North American diplomats.
Starting next June, Tenerife and, consequently, the Canary Islands, will be closer to the big Apple with the implementation of this new direct route. An initiative that had been considered for many years, but for different reasons never came to fruition. After two years of intense work, the Cabildo de Tenerife has finally managed to enter the United States market through an agreement with the United Airlines company to start operating with the south of Tenerife from June 9, three times a week, with a direct flight lasting approximately six and a half hours to Newark Libertad International Airport and with a departure offer of 348 euros round trip. The connection will be made by means of a Boeing 757-300 aircraft, with an initial number of 13,400 seats for the summer (from June to September), 50% more than the total number of tourists from the United States who stayed in Tenerife (26,441). in all of 2019, before the pandemic. The outbound Tenerife South-New York route will take place Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 9:50 p.m. and the return leg, Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, at 12:00 noon.
The importance of this agreement does not focus only on attracting North American tourists and, at the same time, making it easier for residents to travel to the United States, but rather it is about strengthening the economic and commercial relations of both territories, above all, having to Africa so close. “In addition to its capacity as a tourist destination, Tenerife has other economic tools and attractions that are an incentive for American companies seeking to do business abroad and open up economic opportunities between both destinations,” the president of the Council of Tenerife, Pedro Martin. “The opening of this airway allows opening not only one more tourist route, but also the possibility of establishing businesses, congresses, filming, as well as the installation of companies attracted by tax benefits,” he insisted. In this sense, he highlighted the important boost that a direct connection will have to attract film production companies, now that this industry is gaining special importance in the Canary Islands”.
For this reason, one of the great objectives now is to consolidate this route “and that it is not something ephemeral, for that we work intensely in the joint promotion not only with United Airlines, but with different agents, tour operators and North American organizations with which we are taking carried out different promotional actions. A representative office has been set up in the United States, which will also cover Canada, in order to improve our presence in this market, and to be represented in different acts and events that help promote Tenerife as a tourist destination”, he highlighted.
Most of the tourists from this market (77%) choose to stay in hotel establishments, preferably in four or five star hotels. They are, therefore, travelers with medium-high purchasing power and Tenerife has high-standard infrastructures that meet their expectations. As for the area, the South, with 74.5%, accounts for most of the North American visitors, followed by the North (12.5%), Santa Cruz (9.13%) and La Laguna (3 .7%), according to 2019 statistics.
According to data from the Canary Islands Institute of Statistics, in 2018, nearly 40,000 American tourists traveled to the Canary Islands and mostly stayed in five-star hotels. The profile of the North American tourist is characterized by a greater interest in discovering the cultural and gastronomic offer of the Canary Islands. Their degree of satisfaction is very high and above average and their intention to recommend Canarias is also.
In 2019, 26,441 tourists from this market stayed in Tenerife, which represents 0.4% of the total number of tourists registered that year on the Island. An amount that meant an increase of 16.5% compared to the balance of 2018 However, with the pandemic, the number of visitors from the US has dropped by more than 70%. All in all, the data for the beginning of 2022 indicate a rebound in the arrival of tourists (with 1,197 tourists in January compared to the 184 registered in January 2021 and 36.7% less than in 2019), although the war in Ukraine and the fear of long-distance transfers can stop this scale.
In any case, the preparations for the inaugural flight are already being finalized, as well as the actions to be carried out on the first flights, both from New York to Tenerife and vice versa, with the aim of achieving the consolidation of this line within a period of two years. “The delegates of the company who have visited us have been surprised by the wide range of quality tourism that Tenerife has and this, together with the good performance of reservations and the good reception that we have received from the North American tourism sector, which is beginning to know the destination and marketing it, makes us optimistic and we believe that the consolidation of the flight will be possible”, assured Pedro Martín.
In addition, among the promotional campaigns that are being carried out in the American market, it is worth mentioning the participation of Tenerife, at the beginning of April, in a meeting in Miami with 58 professionals from the sector, which was attended by buyers with high purchasing power invited by Turespaña and in which other Spanish destinations also participated. Among the guests was the director of Turespaña, Miguel Sanz, and the highest representatives of this organization in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York.
The big Apple
Turismo de Tenerife also attended the Annual Congress of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), which took place from December 8 to 10 in San Diego (California). An event that allowed the Island to come into contact with the North American tourism industry, in a potential market of 330 million people, to which we must add 40 million more Canadians.
At the same time, United Airlines also met with the Canarian Association of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators (ACAVyT) to inform them of the details of the air connection. A total of 42 travel agents, in addition to the president of the Association, David Déniz, took part in the presentation, led by Antonio de Toro, Country Sales Manager of United Airlines, together with the Regional Director – Central Europe & Iberial – Worldwide Sales Guido Araújo.
Today, United Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the United States, along with American Airlines. It is at the forefront of its commitment to decarbonising the aeronautical sector and was the first company to operate a flight with passengers using exclusively sustainable fuel specially developed for aviation in December 2021. And in 2022 it has announced a significant financial investment for become the largest airline to adopt hydrogen engines for its regional flights.
At a time when sustainability and care for the environment are becoming so important, the commitment to an airline whose philosophy is the decarbonisation of the aeronautical sector is undoubtedly a success.
Another of the assets that the Canary Islands have to capture the North American market is that it has the same that the Caribbean offers, but with an immense cultural, gastronomic and sports offer. It is true that more hours, but with an offer of accommodation of the highest quality and great legal and health security, being Europe. The Canary Islands could become the new Hawaii for Americans.