Lanzarote is the ideal holiday island for the discerning holidaymaker! This unique island has everything: stunning volcanic landscapes, amazing nature attractions, uncountable picturesque sandy beaches, attractive luxury hotels, interesting places to see and plenty of great things to do. On top of all this, there is an abundance of tasty gastronomy and a fantastic all-year-round climate.
Serious tourism on Lanzarote picked up in the early 1980s, with the introduction of the ‘package holidays’ in the late seventies. Until then and despite the tourism boom of the 1960s on other islands of the archipelago, tourism development on Lanzarote had been very slow. By that time, the local government (El Cabildo) started to put an emphasis on improving basic infrastructures, such as the extension of the airport runway to allow for international flights.
Over the years many natural sights have been transformed into spectacular tourist attractions, such as the Jameos del Agua, the Cueva de los Verdes, Mirador del Río and the Timanfaya National Park just to name a few.
And, of course, the brilliant artist and architect César Manrique made it his mission to improve his beloved island. He worked alongside the council to set up a plan, known as ‘Plan Insular de Lanzarote’, the aim of which was to avoid uncontrolled tourist development and to preserve the natural and cultural patrimony of the island. By 1974, the island boasted 2,000 hotel beds, receiving around 9,500 guests. This figure continuously increased, until – only a few years later – it had already reached more than 90,000 tourists per year, mainly coming from Scandinavia and the Benelux.
Towards the end of the 1970s, when the new concept of ‘package holiday’ offers started to flood the market, tourism on Lanzarote rapidly increased with fast-growing numbers of visitors to the island. Consequently resorts like Puerto del Carmen, Costa Teguise and Playa Blanca were heavily developed and transformed into major holiday destinations for people all over the world.
The island government has always ensured that this development took place with respect for local culture and tradition; as a result of the combined efforts of island authorities and César Manrique, nearly two thirds of the island’s surface are free of tourist establishments and the discerning visitor can still enjoy Lanzarote's unique beauty to its full extent.
This exceptional ‘tourist development model’ was internationally recognised when Lanzarote was declared one of the six universal models of sustainable development by the World Tourism Organisation in 1987. By the early 1990s, it was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
Today, more than one million and a half tourists visit the island each year, the majority coming from Great Britain, Germany and continental Spain. The enormous tourism growth taking place especially during the past 15 years resulted in the majority of the working population being involved in tourism in one way or the other. Considering the size of the island, it is not surprising that on an average, the daily number of tourists on the island often even exceeds half of the number of inhabitants living here all year round!
Visitors to Lanzarote will always receive a warm welcome from the Lanzaroteños, but they will also ask you to respect their natural and cultural heritage as they have done for centuries!