Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, has long been a favorite vacation spot for British travelers. but the destination is becoming increasingly popular among Americans, who compose a growing segment of the destination’s visitors.
There has been a noticeable rise in the number of Americans traveling to Tenerife since 2014. In 2017, the island saw 20.6 percent year-over-year growth among American visitors, who numbered more than 21,000. The trend has continued through the first quarter of 2018 when more than 5,000 Americans overnighted in Tenerife, marking a 17.6 percent increase over the same period in 2017.
“North American tourists are seeking an alternative destination to the Caribbean and Mexico,” said Alberto Bernabé, Tenerife’s Island Councillor for Tourism & International Affairs. “Tenerife and the Canary Islands have a year-round warm-weather climate, lots of culture, adventure and beautiful landscapes and seascapes.”
Americans traveling to Tenerife are typically first-time visitors; only 9 percent are returning to the island. The average age of Americans traveling to the island is 42, with most having higher household incomes.
Like their British counterparts, Americans are traveling to Tenerife for its perennially mild climate, 40-plus miles of beaches, and theme parks like Siam Park and Loro Parque.
Tenerife’s American visitors also want to experience the destination’s many nature-based activities such as hiking, whale watching, and scuba diving; and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mt. Teide National Park and the Spanish colonial capital of La Laguna. Other activities that appeal to Americans are hiking, windsurfing, diving, parasailing and lava tube explorations.
Also of interest are wineries and vineyards, and gastronomy, which blends South American cuisine with traditional southern Spanish dishes and tapas. Tenerife is home to multiple Michelin Star-rated restaurants.
April, May, and June—as well as the autumn months of September and October—are ideal times to visit for those travelers who prefer to avoid the crowds.
The destination welcomed its third cruise ship terminal, the second largest in Spain, in 2016, attracting major cruise lines such as Princess Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line.
Today, Tenerife receives 15,000 to 20,000 cruise passengers annually. Bernabé also noted that these cruise lines have helped drive awareness of the destination among American cruise travelers, who are inclined to return to the destination for a longer stay.
“There are so many activities on the island, that unlike other destinations where everyone on the cruise ship is going to see the same thing, visitors coming through the port are able to choose what they want to do for the day,” he said. “No single city or activity has been overwhelmed by the presence of these additional tourists.”
WHERE TO STAY
Americans who do opt to overnight on Tenerife typically stay in four- and five-star hotels, and most book accommodations on the southern part of the island. As lodging options expand in the northern areas of Tenerife, including Santa Cruz and La Laguna-Bajamar-La Punta areas, so do the numbers of Americans staying in these island locales. They have their choice of branded hotels such as Hard Rock, Sheraton, Melia, Ritz-Carlton, and Iberostar.
There are also “numerous boutique-style and smaller hotels throughout the island that reflect our local Canarian culture,” Bernabé said. This year, the island will welcome three new properties: Royal Hideaway Corales Resort, the boutique La Laguna Gran Hotel, and the luxury family-friendly Victoria Suite Hotel.
There are no direct flights between the island and North America. Instead, Americans are flying into major European airport hubs—namely Madrid, London and Dublin—and flying on to Tenerife, which offers connections to more than 180 airports.
However, Tenerife would like to further increase its American visitor numbers and thus recognizes the need for direct flights. “As a long-term member of USTOA, we have been working with a number of tour operators to increase demand to the island, thus creating the need for direct flights,” Bernabé said. “As a result, we are in negotiations with numerous well-known airlines to make Tenerife an easy six-hour flight from the U.S.”