Gran Canaria beaches were the main tourist attraction visited by travellers who chose the island for their vacations in 2016, according to a recently published survey by the Canary Islands Institute of Statistics (ISTAC) which also ranks excursions, immersion in the local gastronomy and activities in nature among the preferences expressed by tourists who visited Gran Canaria last year.
More than 2.8 million tourists discovered at least one of the island’s beaches in 2016, representing 68.5% of the 4.2 million visitors that Gran Canaria recorded in what was the best year in its tourism history.
At the same time, 794,000 people opted for organised visits to discover unique features around the island, a traditional travel model that attracted 18.8% of the total number of tourists who booked in 2016.
Consumption habits reflected in the ISTAC survey reveal that 1.7 million travelers, 42% of the total registered last year, opted for free excursions as a way to get to know Gran Canaria, which in turn contributed to the 12% increase in tourist spending at destination. (often ‘Free’ excursions are financially supported through various product sales and additional spending in local restaurants, bars and other attractions)
This change of trend, say ISTAC, defines Gran Canaria as a dynamic destination and with an individualised offer that allows travellers to move autonomously depending on the product or attraction that best suits their preferences.
1.1 million visitors tried some of the local dishes, representing 28.3 percent of all the activities collected in this study of Gran Canaria tourist behaviors.
The island’s natural spaces reportedly received 984,000 visitors last year, 23% of the total, with a prominent role for active tourism as a preferred option for those travellers who decide to get to know Gran Canaria while practicing their favorite sports. 350,000 people performed some type organised activity or sport related to the sea, while 160,500 played golf at one of the many courses located across the island.
Las Palmas was one of the most visited places by tourists surveyed. According to ISTAC’s estimation, 1.1 million people discovered the capital city last year, reaching 28% of the total number of visitors to Gran Canaria.
The north was the most frequented ‘non-tourist’ zone with 849,000 visits, compared to the 810,000 travellers who entered the municipalities of the interior and visited the summits of Gran Canaria.
In addition to this, the ISTAC study counted 287,000 visitors who went to museums on Gran Canaria and 282,900 who visited the island’s spas and thalassotherapy centres to enjoy health and wellness treatments.