Spain’s love affair with British tourists is showing signs of waning after Lanzarote’s president praised Germans as the holiday island tries to diversify its visitors.

María Dolores Corujo said German holidaymakers could bring a higher quality of tourists in what may have been a slight towards the UK tourists who typically crowds its beaches.

“It’s essential to work on the diversification of the sector and the growth of markets like the German market, which adapt to our intentions of aiming at higher-quality tourism and holidaymakers who spend more when they’re here and move us away from mass tourism,” she told a tourism conference in Germany this week.

Last year, the Canary Island received 2.5 million visitors – 17 times its population. About half were British with the Germans coming a close second.

Britons sometimes have a reputation for rowdy behaviour while on Lanzarote.

No stranger to controversy, Ms Corujo said last month that the Canary Island resort was saturated, and it needed to change its tourism strategy. She said in the future it should consist of receiving fewer visitors who spend more money while there.

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Ms Corujo said tourism chiefs should aim to attract more French, Italian, German and Dutch holidaymakers as well as Spanish tourists.

“We are going to continue to promote the debate on the limits to growth even though they try to gag us with the ghost of fear of damage to the image of Lanzarote,” she said.

Opposition politicians on the island condemned Ms Corujo’s tourism strategy, which they claim will drive up prices for islanders and damage the local economy.

José Maria Mañaricúa, president of the Federation of Hoteliers in Las Palmas, in Lanzarote, said the government needed to improve its spending on tourist infrastructure if it wanted to attract tourists who will spend more.

“Any business wants to improve its income. But to do this, you have to give a clear objective to improve public infrastructure, improve beach services, with services which make [a place] stand out from other areas of Spain like the Balearic Islands and Andalusia,” he said.

The strategy in Lanzarote has also been repeated in other parts of Spain like Magaluf in Mallorca where the once notorious resort commonly known as Shagaluf has been the target of investment by hotel chains that have opened a series of five-star establishments.

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