Did you know that Tenerife has been a magnet for tourism since the 1880s? 32 years after the defeat of the British attack on Santa Cruz in 1848, where Lord Nelson was injured and lost his arm, visitors, even including British were being welcomed to enjoy their holidays here.
So how has Tenerife tourism changed its image over the years?
Oh yes, in the 1880s they had hotels here and everything – the capital city of Tenerife, Santa Cruz had 3 hotels at that time, Hotel Orotava had 19 rooms, Hotel Camacho had 15 and Hotel Panasco had 11 but of course, the amount of visitors in 1880 weren’t on the same scale that they are today. It was recorded that in 1881 a total of 800 visitors came to the city itself.
Clearly Santa Cruz was the main entry point to the island of Tenerife and from there people either stayed in the city or went on their way on agricultural holidays and walking holidays on doctor’s orders.
Santa Cruz was a regular destination for ships that were sailing for the Americas and West Africa as they would have had to stop here for replenishments.
Those years were nothing like they are now, if you come here on a modern cruise liner today, you’ll get berthed right on the harbour, walk down a gang plank, probably covered over in case you get too many rays of sun, then maybe into a bus or a short walk into the city itself.
In the 1880s you would have had to have got into a small rowing boat and been brought ashore by that…you can almost imagine the ladies having to lift their massive dresses up and over the edge of the boat to get onto dry land, maybe with a chivalrous crew member of gentleman assisting her.
Link to photo – OK, it’s not Tenerife but it gives you an idea as how it might have been.
The Second World War saw very little in the way of tourism for Tenerife, well, not in the way I’m talking about here – there were probably loads of visitors but very few of them probably had a holiday as we know it now.
1948 saw the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which gave everyone the right to rest and leisure along with paid holidays. This brought with it a rush of holiday makers from industrialised countries taking advantage of their annual paid holiday.
The 50s saw a boom in hotel construction with the city of Santa Cruz having among its many attractions 16 new hotels, two tea rooms and three ballrooms, a chamber orchestra and…believe it or not…greyhound racing, cock-fighting as well as the bullring which would have held bull fights once a week.
Hotels were popping up all over the place, including in the south of Tenerife in Los Cristianos.
In 1956 the Los Rodeos airport in the north of Santa Cruz was opened having been financed by the Cabildo Insular which is the governing body of Tenerife, and as such another much quicker method of travel to Tenerife was opened.
During the 60s the island saw an increase in visitors as holiday travel became more of a normal pastime for the public at large and people found that they were able to visit places abroad much more easily.
It was at this time that the south of Tenerife tourism started to explode with the construction of hotels and holiday complexes ready for the influx of tourists. Visitors were coming from all over the world as well as from the north of Tenerife itself. Canarians that were living in the north of Tenerife, Santa Cruz and La Orotava for example, were holidaying and buying property in the south of Tenerife.
Buildings for hotel workers were also needed and were being constructed in areas such as Los Cristianos, away from the main tourist zones such as Las Americas. It’s funny to think that Los Cristianos, at that time was not deemed a popular holiday resort.
The public’s love of sea and sun was at an all-time high and Tenerife with its all year sunny weather, fresh mountain walks, northern coolness and southern warmth attracted thousands of tourists per year, in fact Santa Cruz registered a total of 9.278 ships anchoring in the port during 1962, plus of course many more travellers by airplane from the newly opened airport.
In 1974 the International Union of Official Tourism Organisation started to deal with tourism on a professional basis throughout the world and of course this meant Tenerife as well.
Training for hotel staff, research for ideal places and resorts to actually go on holiday and suggestions for transport links between holiday resorts and destination on the island, were made bringing Tenerife up to date with the times and therefore becoming an ideal place to go on holiday.
The 80s through to the 90s saw exponential expansion with the building of hotels and holiday complexes. The south of Tenerife was one massive building site with cranes all over the place and tourism going through the roof.
The 80s saw new areas of growth such as Golf del Sur and Amarilla Golf and the 90s saw Palm Mar expand further on from its original 60s bungalows and small villas.
Coming into the 00s we saw growth of a different kind – luxury tourism in Tenerife arrived.
Massive 4 & 5 star hotels were constructed right along the Costa Adeje coastline all offering every conceivable luxury. Now we’re out of the latest crisis we’re seeing more cranes going up and construction of many more high class hotels and holiday complexes…although I’d say more hotels as the word “complex” doesn’t seem to have much of a luxurious ring about it.
Tenerife tourism has come a very long way since its introduction as a holiday island in the 1880s with its agricultural and walking holidays, a massive sun seeking boom during the 60s and 70s, slurring and stumbling through an era of 18 – 25s drink and drug fuelled holidays that people probably can’t even remember and now changing its direction totally to be one of the go to luxury holiday destinations of the world.
Maybe we’re not on a par with Dubai yet, but to be honest, with the culture we have here, the fantastic differences of vegetation and weather throughout the island, clean coastlines, plenty of things on offer to do all over the island for every type of budget and every age of visitor and a safety record to be proud of and yet, just 4.5 hours flight from the UK and other neighbouring European countries, easily makes Tenerife one of the most popular destinations in the world for all year round holidays.
If you’ve never been to Tenerife on holiday, you ought to give it a try, many people will tell you that it’s an island for 18-25s holidays and nothing more, that’s a very old fashioned, short sighted and narrow minded attitude, oh and if they don’t say that they’ll harp on about the black sand of Tenerife that makes you dirty…it’s just black sand for goodness sake, volcanic rock broken down over millions of years…!!!…if you come to Tenerife for your holidays, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised at what you find…and if anyone asks, tell them that Simon sent you…!!!