Is Tourism Killing Traditions in The South of Tenerife?

Fri, November 21st, 2014 - By Linda

You could be excused for being unaware of Tenerife’s traditions. All-inclusive holidays mean you don’t need to stir from your modern hotel. You can dine on fish and chips, lunch on burgers and not even try Canarian food. Looking at the endless development along some shorelines you might wonder if the Canary Islands are only hotels and apartment blocks.


The Passion, Adeje


I’ve lived on Tenerife for coming up to 28 years, and initially my impressions were that the encroaching concrete was in danger of taking over the island. Development is almost at a standstill now, due to the worldwide economic crisis, and I’m sure when normality returns it will continue. Yet, I’ve noticed a change, which is also growing, and that’s the promotion of the island as more than simply sun, sea and sangria. To this end, local traditions and cultural events are being promoted to visitors, and these days it’s rare to go to a fiesta in the south of the island not attended by tourists too.

Two events very close to the major resort of Playa de las Americas spring to mind as examples. One is the very professional Passion play performed each Easter in Adeje, and the other is the fiesta of San Sebastian which takes place on the beach in La Caleta in January. Both draw thousands, not only from the local community, but from holidaymakers too.


Fiesta de San Sebastian, La Caleta


My home town, El Médano, produced El Día de las Tradiciones (The Day of Traditions) for the first time only a couple of years back, following the example of other municipalities, demonstrating traditions and customs not only to the local children, but to visitors as well, helping us to understand the culture behind the tourist façade. Recently, I spoke with several holidaymakers who had danced the night away at the local fiesta in September.


Tile kiln, San Miguel


But it isn’t only cultural traditions which are thriving again; the increasing number of people who come here to hike is seeing regeneration of the old caminos reales, the pathways used by early settlers to travel the island. Forgotten for years as tarmac eased our way around, they are being rediscovered. Hiking, you meet as many visitors as locals these days.

In the 1960s as tourism rapidly became the main industry, countless numbers of people left the countryside to work in the new resorts. Abandoned terraces and barren hillsides can still be seen, but for those who didn’t forsake their smallholdings and market gardens, there has been new opportunity in the farmer’s markets which have appeared in recent years in Granadilla, in Adeje and in Las Chafiras in San Miguel. Visit any, but especially the latter, and you will rub shoulders with as many visitors as Tinerfeños. Life doesn’t get much more traditional than eating an area’s fresh, home-grown produce.


Traditional dancers, El Medano


Old posters promoting Tenerife feature folk in traditional dress, and a more cultural aspect to tourism. In the rush to build from the 70s to the 90s that seemed to be forgotten, but the wheel is turning back in favour of showing off the dance, food, celebrations and history of the island, and the money from tourist Euros is helping to pay to keep traditions alive here. It seems that the traditions are out of danger and helped by the very thing which threatened them.

Posted : Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 11:57 am
Category : about tenerife
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