Quite a few years ago we came out of the Davenport Cinema in Stockport after watching the movie Cry Freedom to be met by students handing out anti-apartheid leaflets. It struck me at the time that they were preaching to the converted. The chances are that most people who went to see the movie were already anti-apartheid.

This ain't what discerning travellers are looking for...

A couple of weeks ago Andy tweeted a blog about Benidorm and Tenerife being shameful destinations. It ended up being debated on a couple of Tenerife forums (still is). The suggestion that some people might be ashamed to admit to having a holiday on Tenerife raised a few hackles. This didn’t come as a surprise. Tenerife forums are inhabited by people who like Tenerife, so clearly they’re unlikely to be ashamed to be here. Just like it would have been unlikely that a supporter of apartheid would go to see Cry Freedom.

What did surprise me was the number of people who seemed to be shocked by the idea that Tenerife was considered a naff holiday destination.
Tenerife’s been a victim of one-dimensional media coverage for years. In the past it painted an image of an island which was almost a British colony where lager louts ran wild and cordon bleu cookery meant the banger in your all-day breakfast had some herbs and spices in it.
We all know this, we’ve all seen the TV programmes and read the sensationalist headlines…so why is anyone surprised to learn that Tenerife is looked down upon as a holiday destination?

Amongst the comments and blogs surrounding the whole ‘ashamed of Tenerife’ furore was a statement which partly explained the snobbery around Tenerife as a holiday destination.

‘Yes be ashamed Tenerife is a MINGERS destination, typical british working class holiday resort and has been for years, NO FRILLS just Brook-side all the way.’

It caused outrage, but it was valid in as much as that’s exactly what plenty of people believe. It represents the image many Brits have of the whole of Tenerife. A holiday choice for people whose only interest in the place is where they can find a pint at under a Euro.

...but this is.

But there are other reasons why Tenerife isn’t considered a serious holiday destination by some.

Different people expect very different things from a holiday. Some (lets call them group 1) expect good weather, lots of bars and restaurants, good beaches and nice hotels, but are not particularly bothered if the place they’re staying has much local culture – i.e. feels like visiting another country.
Others (group 2) also enjoy nice hotels, good weather and spectacular beaches, but the most important aspect of a holiday is getting a taste of something different and that includes the people, the culture, the food, the countryside etc, etc, etc. Even the most exclusive upmarket parts of the popular purpose-built resorts on Tenerife don’t exactly fit this description.

In recent years the British media has changed tack, reinventing Tenerife as an upmarket destination full of luxury hotels. This might make it a more acceptable holiday choice to the more affluent Brit…but not the traveller who wants to experience a different culture. Worse, it’s still a skewed view of Tenerife and misrepresents the island almost as much as the old ‘being full of lager louts’ image.

Of course those of us who know Tenerife (the island), know only too well that whilst the purpose-built resorts cater brilliantly for group 1, step outside them (i.e. most of the island) and you’ll find more traditional culture than you can handle and that would suit group 2 down to the ground.

And if you don’t believe me, try holding a conversation with a farmer in the hills and then tell me Tenerife is simply like Britain in the sun and doesn’t feel like being abroad.

Ashamed to admit to living on Tenerife – don’t be ridiculous. But after recently reading about a British holidaymaker shouting ‘LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT…’ at a newly arrived busload of German tourists I can understand why others might still look down their nose at it.

  1. islandmomma says:

    A few years back an American friend introduced me to a friend of hers, who was delighted to find that I lived in Tenerife. She’d visited many times, and was very surprised by what I told her about the south, because she’d never visited. She’d worked in the past in the US with a lady from La Laguna, who eventually returned there to live, and it was to visit her in La Laguna that the American lady had come. The Tenerife she knew was ….. well, the one you know – the traditions, the beautifully restored houses in La Laguna and Santa Cruz, the cultural life – because this lady spoke Spanish. When I write I try to think about her, and not the bumpkins who come here for all the cr*p they can get at home, but in the sun.

    • dragojac says:

      Sometimes I despair and think that nobody is interested in that side of Tenerife – especially after reading some forums where the majority of people almost completely ignore the Tenerife that I’m more familiar with…and the one that rings my particular bell. We always knew that visitors like the American lady you mentioned were always going to be in the minority – but at least they do exist. We communicate a lot with incredibly varied and interesting people who come to explore the real Tenerife and that keeps me believing that promoting a different face to Tenerife isn’t a waste of time.

  2. islandmomma says:

    Absolutely not a waste of time. I’ve “converted” a few over the years. The art is in preaching only to the “types” we want to find wandering our favorite haunts, isn’t it! Those people who might be “ashamed” to have been on vacation here, but who really would love it!

    • dragojac says:

      LOL. It’s true – After we took one friend into the depths of the Anagas she told us we shouldn’t broadcast to too many people about these sort of places in case they became spoiled. Still the only people who would want to see these sort of places are by that very fact, probably the sort of people who we want to share them with…if that makes sense.

  3. Leslie says:

    I find myself reassuring my old friends from Kent before they visit that it is not El Bognor Regis. When they get there, its easy to convert them.

    When we moved here, my mother hadn’t heard of Tenerife at all. It was a year before she realised that we didn’t live in Tel Aviv. A year of confused conversations about kosher food when I thought she was converting to Judaism.

  4. Richard says:

    Interesting … but perhaps a bit generalised ? Without actually naming the elephant in the closet, you are actually painting a stereotypical Brit class war situation … and one that might present a problem for say someone who considered themselves ‘working class’ (at least by political leaning & perhaps their roots), but not one of the ‘chavs’ 🙂 who unashamedly want their ‘Category One’ holiday.
    I’m sure that there are actually a few other categories & types of holiday makers who come here …
    For instance, I could also add the particular little group that we belong to: the ‘Surfer Set’ (dude 🙂 We were coming to Tenerife (and El Medano in particular) for nearly twenty years (before moving here permanently) to enjoy the ocean, wind & waves along with a very cosmopolitan (and you could argue classless) group of like-minded fellow travellers.

    • dragojac says:

      Completely over generalised. I agree there are probably many categories of visitors who come to Tenerife for all sorts of reasons – your bohemian classless surf dude society for one lol. We could probably add divers, golfers, rock climbers, paragliders, walkers, twitchers etc, etc, etc.
      The British class war scenario is an interesting one. I don’t believe at all that it is necessarilly about the difference in classes – I don’t think there’s any real difference between the background of many people who choose to visit Puerto and those who opt for Las Americas. I think it’s more to do with a different mindset. But ultimately I couldn’t give a hoot about what sort of holiday or Tenerife experience anyone enjoys…even if it’s a stereotypically chav one – except when that’s the one that is used to characterise Tenerife. That’s when the soap box comes out : )

  5. the mountain in the header seem like Batur mountain in bali

  6. DAVID says:

    I’m profoundly deaf 70y/o so I want to emigrate to tenerife for start new life there
    so can you will find a unfurnitined one bedroom flat in south tenerife if possible so why I ‘m enough with british grovernment are not good reallyso I’m gay but very clean person hopes they will able help me for how do it for me to live there for my start new life if possible

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