The Canary Islands surpassed in November for the first time in history the barrier of 900,000 employed people. The employment of more than half (52.6%) of the citizens who are currently working in the Archipelago depends, directly or indirectly, on tourism. This strong link between the labor market and accommodation activity leads to the record number of affiliates registered with Social Security, but the reverse of the coin shows the danger of not having employment distributed in more sectors.
There are opinions in both directions. “Blessed tourism,” emphasizes the vice president of the Canarian Confederation of Businessmen (CCE), José Cristóbal García, while the technical secretary of the College of Economists of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Juan José Hernández, recommends taking your eyes off “the volume of people” and focusing on “the number of hours worked.”
“If you have a competitive advantage, you should improve it and not give it up”
What does the latter mean? “That the system needs less and less workforce, which is a trick that is revealed when you ask how many hours each person works,” Hernández Castro continues. There would be 475,214 questions to ask, because that is the number of workers on the Islands who are employed in tourism activity itself or in other branches that, such as commerce or transportation, are closely related to the arrival of visitors.
He Impactur Canary Islands 2022 study presented last Friday by the Government of the Canary Islands and the Alliance for Tourism Excellence (Exceltur) estimates the percentage of labor that works in the area of the accommodation plant at 39.7%. In absolute numbers, there are 344,358 people.
Another 130,856 workers
The document itself emphasizes that indirect ones must be added to these, another 38 jobs for every hundred created in tourism, which raises the rate by almost thirteen points – up to 52.6% – and adds another 130,856 workers to reach the aforementioned 475,214. The specification of the figures should not hide that they are obtained by taking the current membership data and the contribution of the engine of the Canary Islands economy corresponding to last year.
However, even taken with due caution, the numbers serve to show the relevance that the arrival of travelers has for the regional GDP and how highly dependent the labor market is on this factor. “Thanks to tourism we have so many jobs,” explains García, also general secretary of the CCE. There is no negativity per se in the fact. “You have a competitive advantage that should not be reversed,” he explains, “if anything, you should improve it; a five-star hotel generates more employment,” for example.
«We must pay more attention to the hours worked than to the total volume of employment»
In the same line, the president of CEOE-Tenerife, Pedro Alfonso, rrecognizes that promoting the growth of other sectors is positive, but without giving up “what we know how to do.” The Canary Islands are specialized in tourism and have to do it as best as possible, because the competition is always trying to get a bigger slice of the pie,” he emphasizes.
José Cristóbal García explains that It is no coincidence that the Islands have a special prominence in the international tourism market. The climate and natural resources favor it, in the same way that the remoteness of the potential clientele and the scarcity of the territory prevent the takeoff of a traditional industry.
Add to that the vice president of the CCE who Faced with the intensity of the demand for labor in the accommodation activity, the industry “generates less employment. In short, if we could develop it, which is not possible, we would have a very diversified economy and an unemployment rate of 50%.
Less external dependence
For his part, the technical secretary of the College of Economists of Santa Cruz de Tenerife emphasizes that The objective “is not to look for the bad,” but he understands that it would be positive to “depend less on external factors.” That is to say, the Canary Islands economy will suffer less if a volcanic eruption prevents air traffic or depend on political instabilities in competing destinations to reach its greatest potential.
- According to data from the Impactur Canarias 2022 report, 38 jobs are generated for every one hundred created in tourism. In the current context, that translates into 130,856 jobs.
- The accommodation activity itself currently supports 344,358 jobs, 39.7% of the 903,687 workers who are currently registered with Social Security.
Along the same lines, Juan José Hernández regrets that Nowadays, having a job is not synonymous with “having one’s needs covered or achieving a status.” He even glimpses an excessive weight of the tourism sector that becomes a burden so that other sectors can take off with guarantees. “I have already encountered people who throw in the towel on diversification,” he says.
To all this, Pedro Alfonso adds the need to “companies that invest” as a necessary condition for other activities to flourish. For this phenomenon to occur, it demands “an effective REF” and a more agile Administration that avoids obstacles when it comes to launching initiatives in sectors such as the circular economy or renewable energy.