Every so often we get asked why we use the term the ‘Real Tenerife’. Sometimes it annoys people who view it as a judgement on other parts of the island.
A British TV programme about Tenerife screened this week, which has caught the interest of the usual tabloid suspects, illustrates exactly why, for nearly ten years, we’ve been banging on about another place, the real Tenerife.
The show sensationalises OAPs letting their hair down and behaving as outrageously as teenage holiday virgins going over the top on their first trip abroad. In many ways it paints exactly the sort of image that many people in the UK have of Tenerife – a naff, British dominated holiday resort where people come to get pissed and have a wild time… whatever their age.
It is the image of the island that TV producers are often guilty of portraying. This continues to have an impact on why Tenerife struggles to be taken seriously by people who want to travel ‘abroad’ and not to a place where the gastronomy consists of all day British breakfasts for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It is unoriginal and lazy TV, but it is delightfully scandalous and pulls in masses of viewers.
It’s just not representative of Tenerife.
A couple of years ago a researcher for A Place in the Sun contacted us to pick our brains about a good place to film expats in the north of Tenerife. We suggested a bar in Puerto de la Cruz that is popular with both expats and Canarios. It sits beside the harbour, a picturesque spot where local families congregate. The TV company opted instead for one of the few Brit bars in town, situated in one of the biggest eyesores on the island.
Every year we are contacted by TV companies who plan to film on Tenerife. Every one is more or less the same and the content of the programmes vary only slightly; scams, misfortunes of living abroad… people behaving badly. And every one of them wants to focus on the area around Playa de las Américas.
They all get the same response – ‘we’re not interested’.
The very first post I wrote on The Real Tenerife was designed to show how geographically insignificant the main southern tourist resorts are compared to the island as a whole. Yet this is the one area that TV producers hit on time and time again.
The place where culture and tradition is as strong as anywhere I know is of no interest to them. There are no boozy Brits mooning the goats in the Anaga Mountains, or C list celebrities being ‘surprised’ at finding British paparazzi at Playa Bollullo as they frolic in the surf in full make-up wearing designer bikinis.
Even fellow travel writers can be culpable of singing the same, tired song. How many travel articles about La Gomera have you read that don’t make some sort of reference to its ‘brash’ neighbour? It’s as though the island of Tenerife and Playa de las Américas, because that’s where they are referring to, are one and the same.
It’s insulting to Tinerfeños (or would be if they knew how it was viewed in Britain) that their island is defined by a small area that has little in common with most of the island. And that refers to most of the south of Tenerife as well. In truth it’s also insulting to Playa de las Américas. The resort might be as Canarian as Las Vegas, but much of it doesn’t bear any resemblance to the one that is often portrayed.
Which takes us back to the real Tenerife. A couple of weeks ago I wandered into Puerto de la Cruz to find my way barred by local musicians in traditional dress and carts being pulled by teams of oxen. Last week strolled around Corpus Christi flower carpets in La Orotava and enjoyed a free Blues festival in Tenerife’s capital, Santa Cruz. On Saturday I ate at a restaurant that deserves Michelin star status and is known as being one of the best on the island yet is unknown to many visitors.
These are the sort of things and types of places that you find in the real Tenerife all of the time. It’s the norm.
Plus there are plenty of OAPs having a good time, just not any behaving quite like the ones in the documentary.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+
It is such a shame that people’s view of a beautiful island could be formed by watching such a slanted view of one TV programme. We travel to Puerto de la Cruz yearly, and are about the same age as a number of the participants. We visit for the beauty and culture of the area as well as fun and recommend the island to all our friends, advising that the south of the island is a great place to base yourself as long as you explore the whole island. Let’s hope people saw the programme for what it was – sensationalist rubbish!
Oh SO well said Mr. Montgomery! It hurts that the island has such a reputation, when anyone who cares knows it isn´t the case. We´ll have to keep banging our own drum…
I watched the programme hoping to see the scenery I have grown to love after many years of visiting. I was so disappointed and disgusted at the unrealistic image the programme portrayed of the island. We have many OAP friends who live IN Tenerife and others who holiday there. None of them would ever behave in this way. Yes, there might be some that act this way but this would be a tiny percentage
There have been a lot of discussions about the programme and some people have seen it as just a bit of fun. But I think we all know exactly what sort of damage this ‘bit of fun’ does to the reputation of the island. It IS a real shame that sensationalist dross sells but unfortunately it does. I suppose all any of us can do is keep battling it by telling folk all about the island we know.
I purposely didn’t watch this programme. Had enough of the Sky documentary years ago portraying the “famous” Veronicas as typical Las Americas. Love Tenerife, and visit about three times a year. Beautiful Island, nothing like the rubbish they show on t.v. The North of the island is of course the “real” Tenerife, and magnificent it is. However, the South has vastly improved over the years, lost it’s tacky image, and deserves a lot more respect.
I have been visiting Tenerife since 1998 and am now 61. From the first time that I visited I went on excursions to discover the island and I do my best to try to stay at hotels where I will not be disturbed by revellers after making the mistake of staying at a two star near Veronica’s the first time round! Tenerife is a beautiful island and it does not deserve to be labelled as anything else! Likewise Lanzarote does not deserve the label Lanzagrotty as it also is a truly stunning island! Unfortunately a huge number of Brits seem to think that the only way to have a good time is to be brash, loud and drunk and they act that way over here in the UK as well as in holiday. Sadly as long as there are cheap holidays available to them and bars selling cheap drink who encourage them, you will not get rid of that type of holidaymaker but trust me there are Brits like myself who don’t go on holiday to get drunk and make fools of ourselves and who do love and appreciate what the real Tenerife has to offer!
Well said Jack – many other people feel as you do and have said so in various ways on Facebook over the past three days. British TV has gone downhill in the last few years and in my estimation – we don’t even bother to watch it now.
My husband and I watched this programme simply because it was “ostensibly” about Tenerife – hah! When I retire, in the UK, next month, we plan to spend much more time near Icod de los Vinos, but we certainly don’t plan on the boozing frenzies that were shown – I suppose that gardening, house renovation and relaxing don’t make for “interesting” tv programmes! I know it sounds snobbish, but the people featured on “that” programme were common, attention seekers and I’d hate to think that we were classed in the same way as them, just because we’re British – they give us a bad name, just as football hooligans do. I know that everyone has a right to do what they want to, but this programme was damaging both for Tenerife and for British pensioners
I have been travelling to Tenerife for 40 years and have never seen people behaving like the ones shown. I feel sure that if you look in any resort you will find a minority that behave badly. Nothing to be proud of and that was a small group.Twice I have stayed in the south but usually in the north. Tenerife is a beautiful island with friendly people,lots of bars for a quiet drink and good quality restaurants. I hope that people dont judge the island by a budget slot filling programme.
I fully agree! I am regularly contacted by Brit TV companies that have a focus upon the more negative aspects of life in Spain in the Canary Islands. It is along the lines of ‘Holiday Homes from Hell’, ‘Brits Behaving Badly’ etc. I always refuse to assist, since I learned a long time ago that they are not interested in stories of successful and happy expats, living exciting and rewarding nee in the sun. Whilst we are on the subject of media negativity, the Telegraph newspaper also seems intent upon criticising those who have moved to Spain, in particular. Their campaign over recent months seems intent upon promoting Dubai as a place to live, and not Spain, France, Italy etc. I am assuming that the paper is now owned by an Arab company.
Been coming here to Tenerife since 1990 when verónicas was mad with 18 year olds going bonkers on drink etc. visited lazy days after watching the documentory and it has a good bar and people behind it but the problem with the whole resort is that “All Inclusive” holidays are killing the pubs outside which I used to frequent also people think it is good to be fixed to one hotel but the bad side of all inclusive is you get house drinks gin etc and if you wanted smurnoff vodka you pay for it so how is it all free when your not getting a fair deal. I leave the Island today to go home but wish it could return to the way it was and let the small bars have a chance in life, all inclusive is really based for familys but Young couples are getting pulled into the cons of it is the only way but dont fall for the tricks
This is not Tenerife it is a beautifull Isand. There are many activies that do not involve drinking and sitting in bars all day and night. These people are in the minority and this was for Tv. There are many ex pats on the Island living a good normal life
Well said,Sue. I tend to prefer Italy,but Spain and the Canaries do have a lot of lovely scenery. I hate to see people behaving the way you have described on holiday,as if getting drunk and obnoxious is the only way to be.