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FOOTBALL

How Wales fans swapped Qatar for Tenerife to enjoy a cheap and boozy World Cup

Wales supporters have flocked to the Spanish island of Tenerife to support their team in the World Cup instead of Qatar after a fan suggested the idea in a tweet that went viral. Unfortunately, there have already been some drunken excesses.

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Welsh fans have jammed bars and restaurants in palm-lined Costa Adeje as well as nearby Los Cristianos in the south of Tenerife. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP)

When Wales qualified for the tournament for the first time since 1958 in June, Bethany Evans, 25, looked in to going to Qatar but was put off by the steep cost and strict restrictions on alcohol.

So she suggested Tenerife as an alternative on Twitter “as a joke” and the idea snowballed, with the post re-tweeted over 200 times and some 2,500 fellow Wales fans reaching out to say they would join her.

“I really thought it was just going to be me and a few friends, so this is absolutely incredible,” said Evans, a health and safety manager from Pontypridd, Wales who flew to Tenerife on the opening day of the tournament with her father and six friends.

She said she paid £750 (€865, $905) for a flight to Tenerife and a week’s accommodation while going to Qatar would have set her back £3,000.

Pubs and restaurants in the south of Tenerife, part of Spain’s sun-kissed Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa, have rolled out the welcome mat, decorating their walls with Welsh flags and putting Wales matches on TV.

Kelly Spiers, 45, the owner of the Original Wigan Pier pub and its sister bar La Flaca next door in Costa Adeje, said she had to order extra beer after she agreed at Evans’s request to host fans.

Decked out in red Welsh football jerseys and bucket hats, hundreds of Wales fans packed the two bars for their side’s 1-1 draw with the United States in their opener on November 21st and the 2-0 defeat to Iran on Friday.

“A lot of us have lost our voices because we have been shouting across the bar trying to get people’s orders because they were so noisy,” said Spiers, who is from Northern Ireland.

Spiers, who has lived in Tenerife for 26 years, has given Welsh names to cocktails and hired a choir to perform during halftime of the Welsh team’s crucial match against England on Tuesday.

A draw will be enough for England to make it through to the last 16 whereas Wales need to beat England to have any chance of qualifying, and hope for a draw between the United States and Iran in the other match.

Welsh fans have jammed other bar and restaurants in palm-lined Costa Adeje as well as nearby Los Cristianos and other coastal towns in the south of Tenerife, the most visited of the Canary Islands which is home to around 950,000 people.

Tony Lankshear, who works at Hoops Bar in Los Cristianos, said there have been Welsh fans “in every night” since the tournament began.

“It just sort of caught on. Word spread among all the Welsh supporters, a lot of them decided ‘right let’s go over and have a party in Tenerife’,” he said.

Unfortunately, there was a reminder of the alcohol-fuelled excesses of British tourists in Spain when on Friday drunk Wales and England fans took part in mass brawl in Las Veronicas bar area.

Videos have been widely shared on social media showing how a number of inebriated tourists punch, kick, push and even throw chairs at each other, resulting in several injuries. 

As a result, Tenerife authorities have reinforced police presence in the tourist areas ahead of England v Wales on Tuesday night.

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TOURISM

Spain tourist income surpasses pre-pandemic levels

Spain's income from tourism activity surged in 2022, surpassing levels last seen before the pandemic, the Exceltur tourism association said Tuesday.

Spain tourist income surpasses pre-pandemic levels

Last year’s tourism earnings reached an estimated €159 billion, an increase of 1.4 percent on 2019, beating expectations notably in the second half, marking “the full recovery of tourism activity in Spain”, it said.

Although the figures showed the tourism sector accounted for 12.2 percent of the Spanish economy last year, it remained slightly lower than the 12.6 percent registered in 2019.

“In contrast to the many predictions to the contrary, which were proved wrong during the second half, 2022 marked the full recovery of tourism activity in Spain,” it said in a statement.

After a “dazzling surge in tourist numbers” last summer, Spain had expressed confidence it would achieve a full recovery in the hope of regaining its pre-pandemic status as the world’s second-favourite holiday destination behind France.

The recovery was largely driven by national tourism which saw a “significant increase…that started in April”.

Although the number of foreign visitors was 14.6 percent lower than in 2019, spending only fell by 3.8 percent between January and November, with the lower numbers offset by longer stays and a trend towards buying premium tourist products.

The most popular regions for foreign visitors were the sunny beaches of the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and Andalusia.

Tourism is a strategic sector for Spain, which had close to 84 million visitors in 2019 before the pandemic took hold in early 2020.

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