It was revealed this week that Routes Africa 2016 will be hosted by Tenerife Tourism Corporation. Although Tenerife is not in Africa, its increased connectivity and strategic location to Africa makes them the ideal host.
Tenerife is the largest and most populous of the Canary Islands, and one of the most important tourist destinations in the world. Airports within the Canary Islands rank among the top ten for passenger traffic in Spain; with Tenerife South ranking seventh with more than nine million passengers. Between the two airports – Tenerife North and Tenerife South – more than 12 million people are served. Annually, Tenerife welcomes more than six million tourists, making it one of the top destinations in Europe.
“We see Tenerife's future as island that is open to world and we must be outward looking. Enhancing air connectivity is essential for our future. We see a great opportunity for Tenerife to become future hub for air travel into parts of Africa and are working to strengthen ties with Africa, and dialogue on a Minister level really helps us to achieve these ambitions.”Carlos Alonso
President of the Cabildo of Tenerife
But, Tenerife is much more than a popular leisure destination, it is a hub for people, goods and data. The Canary Islands are one of the largest exporters to Africa, a market worth €227.42 million in 2014. The island is only a 45 minute flight away from Morocco, compared to a two and a half hour flight time to reach Madrid. At present, routes to Marrakech, Agadir, and Dakar are being served from Tenerife twice a week, and a route to Casablanca three times weekly.
The island is hoping to reposition itself to become an international hub, given their close proximity to Africa and ever increasing passenger numbers. Tenerife Tourism Corporation are focusing on continuing efforts to increase connectivity to Africa by collaborating with airlines, African ministers and destination marketers.
Of their trading relationship with Africa, President of the Cabildo of Tenerife, Carlos Alonso said: “Africa is our closest neighbour and natural trading partner. A lot of companies from Tenerife have strong commercial ties in West Africa. There are over 200 companies from the Canary Islands operating on the continent and import/exports have doubled in the last ten years. There are lots of opportunities for our business community as Africa continues to develop.”
As well as exports, Tenerife is connected to Africa through the ACE consortium. This is a submarine communications cable, which has a system that runs along the west coast of Africa. The agreement was signed on June 5, 2010, and the first phase was put in service in December 2012. The system has positioned itself as a key driver of Africa’s social and economic growth. Tenerife formally launched into operations in June 2015 as one of the landing points, along with the likes of Freetown, Sierra Leone; Lagos, Nigeria and Kribi, Cameroon.
Tenerife Tourism Corporation has undertaken effort to help implement a route development fund aimed at attracting new services in regions where there is no connectivity. The Corporation want to maximise the number of direct routes to the island in order to increase the potential market share of clients. Tenerife’s hard work is paying off as they have attracted an additional 52 new routes between 2014 and 2015, with an estimated 757,214 new seats.
Continued growth in Tenerife has seen the island update both their cruise terminal and airport terminal. The Port Authority of Santa Cruz de Tenerife aims to open a third cruise terminal in September, in time to host the 2016 Seatrade Cruise Med event. Two terminals currently exist, but the new one will be the largest in the region at more than 8,000 square metres, in order to deal with the growing cruise passenger numbers.
In 2015, Santa Cruise de Tenerife reported a ten percent increase in passengers to 933,121. Aena, the state-owned company that manages most of Spain’s airports, will invest more than 120 million euros into building a new terminal for Tenerife South airport.
“We see Tenerife's future as island that is open to world and we must be outward looking. Enhancing air connectivity is essential for our future. We see a great opportunity for Tenerife to become future hub for air travel into parts of Africa and are working to strengthen ties with Africa, and dialogue on a Minister level really helps us to achieve these ambitions,” added Alonso.
Tenerife Tourism Corporation has been attending Routes events since 2012, and this will be their first time hosting an event. In 2015, they hosted the first annual West African Tourism and Air Service Development Forum, in which eight ministers participated to find new ways to work with the Corporation to work toward better connectivity with Africa.