KEEPING UP APPEARANCES
Every day, I see dozens of photos of Lanzarote posted on social media. They range from spectacular images of volcanoes and wildlife to simple snaps of holiday-makers having fun.
But almost always they show a beautiful, welcoming holiday destination that attracts millions of people a year, many of them return visitors who can’t get enough of the island.
There’s plenty wrong with social media, of course, but in this case it does a fine job. Any potential tourist can see for themselves what their holiday might be like, and the image of Lanzarote that is seen is overwhelmingly positive.
The days when the only info you’d get was a holiday brochure, and a TV presenter’s bad joke could stigmatize the island for years are long gone. Lanzarote’s on display every day, and it’s looking great.
The image of the island is important, but when I hear local politicians talk about it I sometimes wonder if they’ve ever actually talked to any of the millions of tourists who come here each year.
Calling the island “saturated” at a tourist fair, for example, might be surprising, but it won’t change anyone’s mind about visiting. Even the nonsense the British press recently invented about British tourists not being wanted here doesn’t seem to have affected tourist figures in any way at all.
Similarly, I’ve hardly ever heard complaints about wind turbines, which are often opposed for their “impact on the landscape and Lanzarote’s image”. Solar energy parks have been successfully halted for this reason for years, but many tourists are actually surprised that they don’t see more of them here.
The things that do damage the image of the island are varied, and range from the abandoned hotels that have scarred certain resorts for decades to the way animals are treated; queues for taxis and buses to rip-off electronics shops. Some of them are out of anyone’s hands, others are long overdue for improvement.
New councils and governments that are taking their seats this month, and maintaining the image of the island will be one of the things on their to-do list. Let’s hope they remember to ask the tourists as well as the locals.
Enjoy the magazine!