The Government says it notes the ill-informed attack made by the Opposition and its spokesperson for tourism, Trevor Hammond, on the Government’s track record on tourism.
A spokesman for Number Six: "Mr Hammond has chosen to focus on one subject detailed in the annual Tourism Survey Report, namely Tourism Expenditure. Mr Hammond may not have noted that this figure is based on a sample, as explained in the report’s methodology, that shows what a selected group of visitors may have spent during their stay in Gibraltar.
"In other words it is not an input/output study of what tourism contributes to the economy. His fundamental lack of understanding of the tourism industry is evident. If he had been aware of the changing nature of the industry over the last twenty years, he would have understood that mass market tourism, low cost airlines and a more diverse cruise industry product has allowed extended families and those with less disposable income to travel, which will be reflected in this type of sample.
"More importantly however, he chooses to ignore the increase in the number of visitor arrivals by air and sea. This includes record numbers of passengers using Gibraltar International Airport.
"Moreover, the Hotel Occupancy Survey for 2016 shows that more people have stayed at our hotels than ever before. The total number of arrivals at hotels in 2016 reached a record high showing an increase of 18.9% over 2015 and the largest gains came from Tourist arrivals that grew by 25.6% over 2015.
"Indeed the new hotel projects already becoming a reality are a testament to the fact that demand is increasing.
"In 2016 Gibraltar welcomed a record 50 flights per week in the peak summer months, with August being a record month for passengers, with 60,360 passengers handled. Looking at 2017, record passenger numbers have already been broken in the first half of the year.
"In 2017, 246 cruise calls are expected. This is an increase of 9% on last year.
"If Mr. Hammond would also care to look at the figures published for visitors to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve up to the end of July he will see that numbers are up by 10% and that last year’s total figure was the highest since 2000.
"In addition, and as has been highlighted in numerous occasions, this Government has invested unprecedented amounts in the visitor attractions and beach facilities, in particular making these more accessible.
"It is not complicated to work out that tourism has been on the increase in the time of this administration and that Mr Hammond and the Opposition are being hasty and churlish in their attack."
Tourism statistics are published on Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar’s website.