Five Things You Think You Know About Tenerife

Mon, May 28th, 2012 - By Andrea Montgomery

Ask people in the street what they know about Tenerife and the chances are they’ll tell you about its glorious winter sunshine and one or more of these five ‘well known facts’. But are they really facts…

La Fortaleza, Teide national park

Star Wars and Planet of the Apes were filmed on Tenerife – fact or fiction?
Fiction. A popular tour guide myth on trips to Teide National Park, neither of these two classic films were shot on Tenerife. The original Planet of the Apes (1968) was filmed entirely in the United States and Star Wars had filming locations in Tunisia, Guatemala and the US but Tenerife never hosted men in astronaut helmets or ape suits, except at Carnaval.

The Canary Islands are named after canary birds – fact or fiction?
Fiction. There are actually two schools of thought as to how the islands got their name. The first and most commonly held by historians is that they are named after the dogs that were first discovered on the island by Roman explorers, Latin for dogs being canes. The second theory is that the islands are named after a North African tribe – Canarii – the original inhabitants of the island we now refer to as Guanche.

Tenerife North airport

Tenerife was the scene of the world’s worst airline disaster – fact or fiction?
Fact. On the 27th March 1977 two Boeing 747 Jumbo jets, one operated by KLM the other by Pan Am, collided on the runway of Los Rodeos airport in La Laguna killing 583 people. At that time, the north airport’s runway was not really large enough to safely accommodate multiple 747s but on that fateful day, 11 extraordinary circumstances combined to create the conditions which led to the disaster, including the fact that the aircraft had been diverted from Gran Canaria following a terrorist bomb blast at the airport.

Tenerife is not in Europe – fact or fiction?
Fiction. The Canary Islands are an autonomous region of Spain and are most definitely part of the EU. The reason they fall outside of the EU when it comes to duty free allowances at customs is because they are tax free islands and therefore you don’t pay duty on goods bought on the islands. That’s why cigarettes and booze are so cheap here.

Playa de Las Americas

Playa de Las Americas is named after Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor – fact or fiction?
Fiction. Although the Burtons visited the island in the 1970s and apparently, or so I’ve read, built a luxury villa surrounded by banana plantations, there is no truth to the urban myth that the Canarios, mistaking the couple as being from the US, named the resort after them. The Americas referred to in Playa de Las Américas are the ones discovered by Christopher Columbus, not the ones created by Hollywood.

Posted : Monday, May 28th, 2012 at 10:32 am
Category : about tenerife
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5 Responses to “Five Things You Think You Know About Tenerife”

  1. Richard says:

    Ought Tenerife Customs allow me to take out of the island on my UK flight 1000 cigarettes which I have bought from a Tenerife shop to bring back to the UK with a view to once I get to the UK declaring them to UK Customs and paying the UK/EU duty?
    On my return journey back to the UK I was recently stopped at the Tenerife airport by customs at the bag inspection and told I would only be allowed to take 200 cigarettes out of the island, and if I had any more than this the Civil Guard would confiscate them all!

    • Hi Richard, Normally, if you buy cigarettes anywhere in the EU you would pay VAT on them at the point of purchase but as Tenerife is a tax free island you don’t pay VAT on cigarettes regardless of where you buy them, therefore they fall within the duty free allowance limits for countries outside the EU which is 200 per person.

  2. Kimble says:

    Hello! I believe the answer does not match the question in “Tenerife is not in Europe – fact or fiction?”.
    Europe as a continent does not include the Canary Islands. Neither is the French Indian Ocean island Reunion in Europe.
    However, both are included in the political entity European Union (EU) – not Europe.
    Also, one should note that VAT is collected on more expensive items bought in the Canary Islands upon return to the EU tax zone. I paid 23% VAT for my 900€ camera lens.

    • Hi Kimble, in pedantic terms you are correct but as the post was in the context of the economic union, I’ll stick with my answer 🙂 Also, although you will pay VAT on return to the UK, VAT is not charged on goods at the point of sale. It’s important people understand that duty will become liable if they bring expensive goods bought on the island back into the UK, so thanks for illustrating that so nicely.

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