For decades the recipe for tourism was simple: fly them in, feed them, entertain them, cook them in the sun until they’re brown and fly them back when they’re done. It worked well and made a lot of money for a lot of people, but it was always a bit soulless. Thankfully, things have changed a lot. Now, we prefer to treat tourists as visitors; and it’s amazing how fascinated and involved they can be in every aspect of this island. One of the notable aspects of Lanzarote tourism is the amount of repeat visits. People come here again and again, and even if it’s only for one week a year, that means they feel an intense and loyal connection to the island. And that loyalty is expressed in a deep sense of concern. I get letters all the time from visitors who are concerned about litter, abandoned buildings, faulty roads, pollution and many of the other problems that we face.
So why do we try to protect tourists from these things? For years, authorities have treated the Telamon shipwreck near Costa Teguise as an eyesore. It may be ugly, but it’s also unforgettable, and I’ve never met a visitor who wasn’t impressed by its sheer drama. There are thousands of people who come here who’d love to get a little more involved, feel part of the island they adore and appreciate it for what it actually is, rather than what it looks like in the tourist brochures.
That’s why it was great to receive a letter from Bill Holdsworth, a veteran journalist who’d just spent a holiday on Lanzarote. Bill left the island fizzing with ideas and was generous enough to share some of them with me. I was particularly struck by his proposal to appoint newly-arrived tourists as Climate Guardians of the Island, requesting them not only to dispose of plastic or other litter but also to pick it up. It’s a great idea, and could be adapted to involve initiatives such as beach cleanings or walks.
We should give our visitors the opportunity to care for the island they love, and to reward their loyalty with trust and responsibility.
Enjoy the mag – The Editor