It’s no surprise that tourism in Tenerife is the driving force behind the island’s economy. The warm climate, fascinating culture, and wealth of things to do for all ages and backgrounds, make the island the ideal destination for holidaymakers from across the world.
Why Brits Love Tenerife
In 2014, Tenerife welcomed over 5 million visitors. Of these, 1,684,211 were Brits. That’s more than any other nationality, including Spain. There is, additionally, a 77% rate of return visits from the UK. So what is it that particularly drives Britons to the island of Tenerife?
Well, a lot of the reason can be found in the location. So close to the coast of North Africa, the Canary Islands are blessed with reliably warm weather, and – vitally – just a four hour flight from the UK. Besides this, the reason we Brits love Tenerife so much goes back several decades.
When Did Tourism In Tenerife Begin?
The first tourists arrived in Tenerife from Britain in 1880s. In 1885, there was a sudden surge, with 350 Britons arriving for holidays in Tenerife. The numbers just increased from there, to 5000 in 1890.
Initially, the Canaries were touted as the perfect destination for the gentry recuperating from illness, with the climate, rich culture and beautiful surroundings offering a pleasant tonic to restore health and wellbeing. Impressed by the positive results, the word spread: soon thousands of Britons were heading to Tenerife and the other Canary Islands for leisure.
Popularity, of course, waned during the strife of the two World Wars, but once the economy and spirits of Britain had recovered, tourism once again began with gusto. As air flights dropped in price, political troubles dissipated, and Brits found more income at their disposal, the floodgates opened.
New South Airport Boosts Tourism in Tenerife
At first, Tenerife’s north airport was the only one for tourists to fly into, having been opened in 1946. Following the restoration of Spanish democracy, after several years of political unrest, in 1978 Tenerife South was opened. This was the birth of tourism in the south of Tenerife, the genesis of resorts such as Los Cristianos, Playa de las Americas, and Costa Adeje.
Simultaneous to these changes on the island itself, the face of tourism in the UK was also changing. Thomas Cook, the first package holiday company, started way back in 1841. In 1948, the company was nationalised, becoming part of British Railways, and with the sudden surge in demand for holidays in the 1950s, Thomas Cook came into its own.
In 1954, changes were made to the Convention on International Civil Aviation: now charter flights could take passengers to whatever destination they could afford. Tenerife, being so close and so easy to reach, was an understandably popular choice.
Package Holidays and Tourism in Tenerife
Another milestone in the growth of tourism in Tenerife came in 1990. In previous years, tourists had found themselves burned when the package holiday companies, with whom they had booked, crashed. Thousands were left stranded and out of pocket, and understandably wary about package holidays. In 1990, however, an EU Package Travel Directive was announced, protecting tourists in the event of both tour operator and airline failure. Immediately, things began to pick up again.
In the last three decades, tourism in Tenerife has gone from strength to strength, and shows no signs of falling off any time soon. Soon, nonetheless, may be the operative word here, as there is trouble on the horizon.
The Future of Tourism in Tenerife
A study by Halifax Travel Insurance suggests that the traditional package holiday may screech to a halt by 2030, with climate change being responsible. It is estimated that by that point, some of Britain’s favourite destinations may be far too hot to bear, with drought being a possibility that will cause serious problems across the Mediterranean. The Canary Islands, situated – as they are – in the Atlantic, may fare slightly better than other popular destinations like the Balearic islands. Time will tell as to how Tenerife will weather the challenges ahead.
But for now, there is no stopping Britons flocking to this vibrant, beautiful and lively island, where millions enjoy unforgettable holidays, year on year, on Tenerife’s sunny beaches.