Tourism in Tenerife

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, a part of Spanish territory off the West coast of Africa. It is dominated by a volcano called Mount Teide, which last erupted in 1909 and is 3,718m tall.

In the 2001 census, Tenerife has 778,000 people. This equates to a 380 people per km^2 population density. Tourism first started there in the 1960s and now accounts for 80% of the GDP. In 2005, about 70% of workers were involved somehow in tourism via service industries. Other industries supporting tourism supplies another 16% with jobs.

Attractions to tourists

  • Humid, subtropical climate

The effect of the Atlantic Ocean means that mean monthly temperatures only range from 18 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees. Sea surface temperatures reach up to 23 degrees. It does not frequently fall below 15 degrees.

Windward slopes receive far more rain than other parts of the island, as do the higher altitude areas due to rain shadowing. The island has a nigh permanent cloud layer because of the orthographic effect of Mount Teide. Because the top of the mountain is so much higher than the cloud layer of 2,000m, the peak area is one of the driest points on the island.

  • Although Tenerife is naturally a rocky island, sand is imported to form beaches (such as Playa De Las Americas and Los Cristianos). These are normally small, however.
  • The climate encourages a high biodiversity on the island
  • There is attractive hiking and walking country in the higher altitude pinewoods.
  • The caldera of Mount Teide attracts many visitors and is in the centre of a national park. A cable car gives access to the summit
  • The caldera has been deemed a World heritage Site as of 2007
  • There are step pyramids at Guimar that were built by the native Guanches people in prehistoric times.

Growth of tourism

Tourism originally started in the North of the island, which was already fashionable to British and Spanish tourists to visit in the late 19th century. It is still the most popular destination for Spanish visitors to the Canary Islands.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s access to flights became far easier and cheaper, allowing more visitors. Longer paid holidays in much of the Western world encouraged people to take holidays to more exotic locations. With this boom tourist activity moved to the South of the country, resulting in rapid urbanisation of a long stretch of the Southern coastline from Los Cristianos to Playa De Las Americas. This area now attracts 60% of Tenerife’s tourists and houses many expatriates. Over 95% of British tourists stay there.

Resorts specialise in low-cost tourism.

Opportunities from tourism

  • Before tourism, Tenerife was a poor, agricultural island. Lack of employment forced people out to other countries. Tourism has counteracted this, and few young people now leave for work.
  • Tourism has created thousands of new jobs
  • It generates 60% of the island’s GDP.
  • Through the multiplier effect, income is generated through many industries
  • Tourism is year-round income
  • Tourism has had to cater for 5 million guests annually, meaning transport has been well upgraded
  • Tourism has its own airport- Tenerife South international airport, completed in 1978, which is the 6th busiest Spanish airport. Tenerife has another airport, and they are linked by a motorway, further helping transport links.
  • Teide National Park was designated in 1954 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to tourists raising awareness of the importance for maintaining the environment  there.
  • Similarly, the Corona Forest Nature Park has been set up, with many other reserves.

Problems from tourism

  • Most new development is of poor quality in the South.
  • There was initially no planning for new developments, creating a concrete jungle, such as in Playa De Las Americas.
  • The towns are unattractive and over built
  • There are high congestion levels
  • The environmental quality reduced tourist visits.
  • Nightlife in some towns has meant the island has an image of rowdiness to potential visitors.
  • Average population growth in the south between 1980 and 2001 was 3.2% compared to an island wide figure of 1.1%. This indicates overcrowding in the South, and also correlates to the massive immigration of other Europeans.
  • Water is very scarce- water supplies are fixed while demand is rising. Most water is from aquifiers, causing water levels to fall and quality to fall too. Either more needs to be supplied by recycling waste or by desalinating sea water, but neither of these are cheap. There are 2 current desalination plants, but the energy for them has to be imported.
  • There are sewage disposal issues and there are reports of 3 sewage plants releasing raw sewage straight into the sea in tourist areas.
  • Beaches in the Southeast are mostly artificial, and supplying all the sand for them requires extensive dredging from the sea floor- and subsequently massive damage to marine ecosystems
  • Local culture is undermined due to the presence of so many British tourists
  • Only 1/3 of the arable land is now farmed
  • Young people leave rural areas for the cities to find work. this work is often low-paid and low-skilled.
  • The Canary Islands have the lowest average wages of anywhere in Spain

The future

The Tenerife Tourism Corporation has been trying to improve the island’s image, due to competition from cheaper destinations. Competitiveness decreasing has been an issue since 1986, when Spain joined the EU and labour costs increased. recent decline in visitor numbers suggest the island’s appeal is stagnating. Today’s tourists have higher expectations than those in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Some 5* hotels, boutique hotels, gold courses and spas have been built to help attract wealthier tourists. This means fewer visitors, but the capital from each should result in higher profitability. Environmental pressure would also be reduced.

However, it is hard to suddenly improve the image of the island for tourists.

Ecotourism and heritage tourism are being promoted to help remove some pressure of the sea front.

Alaska- Conflicts and Pressures


The USofA has high demands for oil and a desire to not be dependent on the supply given by other, typically less stable countries.

Oppositions to the exploitation of Alaskan oil were largely based on the fragile tundra ecosystem of the state.

  • Only a few cm of top soil thaw in the summer, so productivity is low in plant life
  • Below the arctic circle, the tundra makes way for taiga forest which has a variety of coniferous tree types
  • Supported by these environments are a wide variety of other species such as caribou, moose, bears, wolves and wolverines.

The US Government’s National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 meant that all companies had to consider the environment and recognise the rights of indigenous peoples.

  • To prevent permafrost melting, oil installations at well-heads are raised on mattresses
  • Dalton Highway (open since 1994) provides a supply route from the South to Prudhoe Bay in the North. It is built 2 m off the tundra surface on a bed of gravel and sand.
  • Workers at oil fields who do 2 week shifts through the year are flown in by Air Alaska from Anchorage (in the South) and lie in Deadhorse in raised, heated cabins
  • The Trans-Alaskan Pipeline, carrying oil 1,300 km from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez started being constructed in 1974 and was completed in 1977 at a cost of US$8 x 10^9. 5 pumping stations control oil flow. The pipeline is insulated and for most of its length is raised- both for access and to minimise environmental damage. The pipeline is built with a “zigzag” path to allow space for expansion of the pipeline in summer without the pipe breaking and leaking oil onto the tundra.
  • BP became the sole oil extractor at Prudhoe Bay in 2,000 but had to abandon parts of the oil field in 2009 as 900,000 litres of oil leaked from corroded pipes
  • In 1978 the Government increased areas of conservation in Alaska by 23 million hectare and by another 42 million in 1980

The oil is shipped out from Valdez by companies such as Exxon to refineries elsewhere in the USofA. Valdez is also dependent on commercial fishing.


  • The Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 damaged large sections of the coastline
  • Since 2006 some double-hull oil tankers, offering more protection against potential obstacles, have been operating in Alaskan waters.

The area also has a threat of earthquakes and tsunamis due to being on a destructive plate boundary.

Geological activity

On 27th March 1964 an earthquake measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale, epicentre 112 km East of Anchorage occurred resulting in land beside Prince William Sound sinking around 2 m. Tsunami over 30m high have hit Valdez before- Valdez has had to be relocated to a higher, safer site because of this.


Tourism in Alaska is mainly concentrated in June, July and August, and in the South. Many visitors come in cruise ships.

  • Tourists are bused between National Parks to admire wildlife and scenery
  • Many anglers from around the world visit Alaska
  • Many ferries and tourist vehicles also carry rangers who identify wildlife and geographical features


32% of Alaska is covered in forest. There are 4.8 million hectares of commercial forest

  • In 2004, 272 fires were caused by lightning and 424 by people One by Dalton Highway destroyed 195,576 hectares of forest

Ash from fire can release minerals which help plant growth and also leaves areas of the forest floor exposed to sunlight so more plants can grow there.


In 2,000 Alaska had 626,932 residents, and now has 736,732 in 2016.

  • To safeguard subsistence lifestyles, a government act in 1980 gave the rural people priority in hunting and fishing on federal lands. There have been subsequent disputes between rural and urban Alaskans, due to claims of being discriminated against. It is difficult for wardens to enforce this.
  • Alaskan residents have benefited from oil revenue. In 1976 the Alaska Permanent Fund was established. At least 25% of all money earned from minerals goes into this fund. By 1980 oil revenues had allowed Alaska to abolish income taxes. Alaska is now the 4th richest US state.


The Arctic may have up to 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves. In 2007, Russia put claims to the Arctic which has created tensions with other Arctic nations and territories, including Denmark (Greenland), Norway and Canada, as well as the USofA


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Kenyan Tourism- Part II

Positives of tourism in Kenya

  • Conservation- tourists have influence the set up of various national parks
  • Employment opportunities
  • Improved infrastructure

Negatives of tourism in Kenya

  • Roads and plants are worn out or damaged by tourists
  • Much of the money earned is leaked out of the economy
  • The way of life for traditional people has been disturbed or outright destroyed, such as with the Endorois and Masai Mara for setting up the Serengeti National Park
  • Water issues as water is diverted for tourists, leaving locals short
  • Pollution

Serengeti National Park

This is the most popular national park in Africa, with lots of predators and animal migrations. Roads and tracks here have caused scarring. Water is channeled down scars and gullies from this which can increase erosion rates. Vehicles have had an impact on the landscape, and can impair animals’ survival chances. Vehicles produce noise pollution which disturbs wildlife.

Tourists need places to stay, eat and sleep so buildings have to be built, and should be built with very careful designs to cause minimal disturbance and be as environmentally friendly as possible. Rubbish disposal can be an issue in parks.

  • The profits are leaked out of the park
  • Foreign workers have been brought in
  • House prices rise when foreign investors buy property for hotels and holiday homes, so locals struggle to buy property
  • Local projects are sidelined for tourist developments


Kenyan tourism- Part I

Kenya has various issues:

  • Independence in 1963. Since then it has been fairly stable
  • Violence through country in 2007
  • Corruption and urban violence
  • East Africa is heavily affected by drought
  • 35% of the population is below the poverty line

Tourism is Kenya’s largest “export”; adventure tourists have come since the 1800’s.

Game reserves pushed out local people when they were established. In a single day 200 vehicles can bring 700 tourists to a reserve. Vehicle tracks were built and traffic increases to see rarer animals such as leopards (25 vehicles can arrive to see a single leopard). It is dangerous to go close to a leopard, which they do for shots. It is forbidden to go off the roads in the game reserves; doing so can spoil roadside vegetation. Authorities who find someone doing this can fine them on the spot, but the park drivers will do this anyway for visitors. A vehicle getting stuck in the mud roadside also increases erosion.

Some lodges, such as Leawa, have been built on game reserves for richer tourists; these are very luxurious and expensive; their money pays for the wildlife sanctuary. The game wardens are like an army, armed with firearms.

The horns of 1 rhino can sell for about US$7,000 on the black market. Rangers are allowed to shoot out poachers, and will shoot before they ask questions. Leawa visitors are funding a school for 500 pupils fed and educated for free with plentiful water

Conflicts with ex-locals

Masai Mara

The Masai previously lived on the land cleared for the Game Reserve. 400,000 Masai Mara were pushed out to make way for tourists by the government. The Masai trinket sales people are very aggressive. They were once a proud warrior tribe but drought and lost land has made them rely on food aid and selling trinkets. They have had to sell their culture for tourist money. A welcoming committee comes to ask tourists for money; they have a fake village and fake traditional dances for tourists.

They also sell illegal lion teeth and claws, which airport security doesn’t check for.

An hour away from the game parks is a real village. Someone entering the village should greet the women and touch the children’s heads when entering the homes as a sign of respect.They gain teeth and claws from predators in real battles, using spears to defend their town.

Deprived of their homelands, they were pushed onto barren land. The Masai think it is a blessing to have tourists come to help their issues. They have to make trinkets for tourists who are hours away for little money.

Their huts are made from cow dung which leads to swarms of flies nearby. They have no furniture. Fires are inside homes for heating and bedding is made of cow hide.

The Masai were promised that they would share profits from tourism by the government in exchange for their land, but they have not.


The Endorois were also pushed off of their land to the North of the Masai Mara. The land is used for tourism too. They were told they had 24 hours and if they didn’t leave, their stuff would be destroyed. They were lied to in a similar manner about payment for their lands. They were forced to live on semi-arid land and mostly live on food aid. The Endorois have been evicted from their homelands nigh systematically for many years.

Houses were built from sheet metal which means that the rooms inside were uncomfortably hot. Water was kms away from the homes. From December to May there is no water in the river. Some mothers were too poor to look after their children.

The African Union has said that the Kenyan government has to compensate them. A Canadian Lawyer has been helping them to reclaim their lands, and a large celebration occurred when she managed to regain them one of their lakes. The Endorois thanked her by claiming her as one of them.

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Lake District- Tourism

The Lake District in England is a national park with a resident population of 42,000, which receives a further 12 million visitors per year. 10 million of these are day trippers, but many of them can arrive all on one day.


  • Roads become congested with slow-moving traffic, making it hard for locals to go around their daily lives
  • This also causes air pollution
  • Some towns have entirely changed character because of tourist shops. For instance, residents in Grasmere have a nigh limitless supply of hiking boots, but struggle to buy normal groceries.
  • Visitors often buy second homes, increasing local house prices and pushing locals out via unaffordable houses. Local services then shut as demand decreases- including schools
  • Tourists can walk over farmers’ fields, damaging crops. Many leave gates open, causing animals to escape.
  • Many go to the Lake District for quiet, but as many want to follow active activities, such as jet skiing and motor-boating, activities can easily collide.
  • People walking in the hills can increase footpath erosion
  • Mountain biking can cause a lot of damage to sensitive environments
  • On some days, thousands of people will arrive in any given town. Competition for basic facilities like food and parking increases, and so does stress. Sometimes fights can break out!

Reducing conflicts

A variety of organisations are working in the Lake District to help reduce conflicts; this includes the UK government’s National Park Authority as well as voluntary organisations run by public donation.

(The National Trust buys land to help preserve it. The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers carries out practical work by repairing paths and dry-stone walls. The Friends of the Lake District campaign on local issues.)

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Yosemite National Park

 Yosemite National Park receives 3 million visitors a year, most arriving by car in similar areas. Building roads and car parks disturbs wildlife as there is less space for them to live in, and also the noise can cause them to move away, and in some circumstances, very sensitive species can stop breeding altogether due to the presence of a large road nearby, or be scared out of the area.

Air pollutants in car exhausts are also an issue; sometimes the smog in the valley gets thick enough due to a temperature inversion in the dramatic (and frankly beautiful) valley areas that the features cannot actually be seen.

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