The face and the cross. The south of Tenerife presents at this time an image that has nothing to do with the one it offered a little over a year ago, when the virulence of the pandemic put the population in their homes and led the main economic sector of the Archipelago to an unprecedented zero tourist.
Those hotels closed to the wall, deserted beaches, motorways without traffic and shops, bars and restaurants with the blinds at ground level have recovered the lost life and today they draw an encouraging landscape, far removed from the appearance they offered then. It is the before and after of COVID, two different worlds.
In coastal tourist areas you no longer hear the sound of waves or the squawking of seagulls. The bustle, the music, the gatherings on the terraces, the sound of the dives in the swimming pools, the shouting of children on the beaches and the circulation of delivery trucks, rental cars and tourist buses have returned.
There are hardly any visible traces of the devastation caused by a microscopic enemy that emptied and silenced the bathing areas, the promenades, streets, sidewalks and leisure establishments.
Then the South counted the days to begin to populate its public spaces with people, open the windows of the hotels wide, fill the sky with planes loaded with tourists and wake up, in short, from a nightmare that seemed eternal and that arrived wrapped in a perfect storm that began to develop with Brexit, the bankruptcy of British tour operator Thomas Cook, which put the Canary tourism sector on the ropes; an energy zero, and the largest sand invasion in half a century that forced the closure of the Islands’ airports.
Until, on February 24, all the alarms went off when the isolation of the H-10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel – the first complete tourist establishment confined in the world – was ordered after an Italian tourist tested positive for COVID-19. The unprecedented quarantine decreed by the health authorities for 900 people (between clients and workers), which raised doubts within the hotel management and in the Government of the Canary Islands itself due to the fear of a massive cancellation of reservations, placed the hotel complex in La Caleta under the international media spotlight for more than two weeks.
That emergency situation, which was managed correctly, as evidenced by the low number of infected (six tourists), ended with an iconic image that appeared on televisions around the world: the exit of clients applauding the health personnel at the doors of the hotel. But just around the corner, he was waiting for a stark reality that no one saw coming, not even when China was building hospitals in 10 days in Wuhan and in the South people jokingly made comparisons with the 30 years it has taken to arrive at the El Mojón hospital.
Now the landscape has completely changed. Expectations for the impending fall-winter season are favorable. After several aborted takeoffs due to successive pandemic waves, the widespread vaccination in the European population supports a recovery that this time is serious, albeit with leaden feet in the face of possible viral variants.
The airlines have scheduled 6.4 million seats in Tenerife South for the winter season, which officially begins today, as confirmed by AENA, a figure that is 25% more than two years ago, before the coronavirus. The data from the Ministry of Tourism point in the same direction and, for now, it plans to close 2021 with more than 6 million visitors.
The Archipelago hopes to recover the bulk of its connectivity with 140 destinations as of November, only 13 less than before the pandemic. Regular connections with the Nordic countries have been lost, but they have been gained with southern Europe (with France and Italy, above all). The United Kingdom once again monopolizes the largest number of scheduled seats, with 2.2 million seats planned, 6% more than two winters ago, according to data from the Ministry.
The south of Tenerife leads the opening of tourist establishments on the Island with more than 92% of its hotel and non-hotel plant operating. Transferred to beds, there are currently 70,479 of the total 73,553 in the market, that is, almost 96% of the beds, according to Ashotel.
Optimism has returned to the sector with the high season, which begins with a low incidence of COVID, although pending the evolution of infections in the main emitting countries, where “there is a desire to travel”, as noted by the employer hotel. Nothing to do with the nightmare and the feeling of unreality of 2020.