To better understand the challenges of mass tourism today, we need to know the history of tourism in Tenerife.

Chapter 1: The beginnings of tourism in Tenerife

In the 18th century, Tenerife began to attract intrepid travellers in search of adventure, health and scientific research. However, tourism was exclusive to a wealthy elite due to the high costs and time required to make the challenging journey. The Orotava Valley, with its extraordinary landscape and enviable climate, became a favourite destination for naturalists, scientists and romantic travellers between the 17th and 19th centuries. With the majestic Teide as a backdrop, this paradisiacal spot exerted an irresistible magnetism.

Chapter 2: The ports and their British influence

The island's main ports, Puerto de Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Puerto de la Cruz, were home to numerous British merchants. These traders contributed to the development of inns and accommodation, shaping a British-influenced tourist enclave.

Chapter 3: The Tourist Boom and the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution in the 19th century accelerated the development of tourism in Tenerife. The development of maritime communications derived from the political expansion of Germany and the United Kingdom, the improvement of ships and the construction of port facilities allowed the regular transport of passengers, laying the foundations for the flourishing of tourism on the island. In addition, a telegraph cable was installed in 1883, facilitating communication with the outside world.

Chapter 4: The cure in the Canarian climate

In the 1880s, tourist guides printed in England began to spread the word about the health benefits of the Canarian climate. The island's pure breezes and crystal-clear waters became an irresistible lure for those seeking to heal lung ailments and treat skin conditions. This attracted thousands of people, mainly British, in search of wellness and rejuvenation. In 1886, the majestic "Orotava Grand Hotel" emerged, the first sanatorium in the Canary Islands, welcoming visitors in search of renewal and health. Another emblematic enclave was the Taoro Hotel in Puerto de la Cruz.

Chapter 5: A New Awakening

Between 1905 and 1912, the public administration formed commissions with a clear objective: to promote tourism in Tenerife. Tireless efforts were made to spread the image of the Canary Islands throughout Europe, leaving behind the exclusive focus on health tourism and embracing a new model of sun and beach.

Chapter 6: Challenges during the wars and the rebirth of hope after war

The two World Wars and the Spanish Civil War had a temporary negative impact on tourism in Tenerife. However, once these periods of conflict were over, tourism on the island experienced a vigorous resurgence. The influx of visitors began to increase again and the construction of new hotels resumed. Over the course of the 20th century, Tenerife became a popular tourist destination, attracting thousands of foreign visitors each year.

Chapter 7: The take-off to tourist paradise

In 1952, a law was implemented which established the Free Ports in Tenerife. This meant that taxes in the island's ports were considerably reduced, which attracted investment and promoted the export of agricultural products. This measure also contributed to the development of tourism, as it facilitated trade and the arrival of tourists through the ports. In addition, at the end of the 1950s, tourism in Tenerife experienced accelerated growth with the arrival of air traffic and charter flights. The Canarian coasts were to become a winter refuge for European tourists, and the south of Tenerife was to undergo a transformation in its tourist industry...

Chapter 8: The transformation of the south of Tenerife

In the 1960s, while cities like Puerto de la Cruz were strengthening their tourist services, a new possibility arose in the south of the island, a promising area with a sunny climate. Despite the lack of infrastructure and the difficulty of access, urbanised areas were developed and the dictatorship sought to attract foreign investment from Germany, Sweden, Holland, Great Britain and also Spain to develop the southern beaches into tourist resorts. In this decade, the tourist offer was consolidated with the creation of accommodation, services, leisure and catering companies tailor-made for travellers. This phenomenon created a significant change in Canarian society, previously centered on agriculture. The considerably different culture and ways of life of the visitors were gradually introduced, leaving a marked mark on the local community.

Chapter 9: The expansion of the 1970s, exponential and uncontrolled

In the seventies, the south of Tenerife took off, overcoming communication obstacles thanks to the inauguration of the southern motorway in 1971 and the Reina Sofia airport in the south in 1978. The oil crisis of 1973 slowed down the evolution of tourism, causing the bankruptcy of numerous Tour Operators, which affected prices, pushing towards a more economic tourism. The destination adapted to mass tourism, offering infrastructure and services to meet the growing demand but urban planning in Tenerife was always lagging behind and development plans were outdated, leading to exponential and uncontrolled growth in many tourist areas in the south.

Chapter 10: Tourism growth in the 1990s

In the 1990s, tourism experienced impressive growth. In just one decade, the number of visitors to the region almost doubled from approximately 5.6 million in 1990 to 10 million in 2000.

Chapter 11: Mass tourism from the 2000s onwards

From 2000 onwards, charter flights and all-inclusive package tours offered a quick and convenient way to travel that attracted Western European tourists, especially those from the lower-middle class, to the region. There was also a small group of retired tourists who decided to stay longer and even buy property in the area. However, due to the influence of travel agencies and the standardization of tourism in the region, there were fewer high-income visitors, more discerning tourists, or those seeking authentic and distinct experiencess.

Chapter 12: Saturation and Change

Today, mass tourism continues to be an important part of the tourism industry, with the negative impact that we will present in the following article. However, it has undergone a significant evolution in its approach. It has sought to diversify the tourist offer, including options beyond traditional beach tourism.

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