2022 will be a key year for the tourist repositioning of Icod de los Vinos. “We still have to continue taking steps,” says its mayor, Francis González, and the municipal government is working along these lines. For this reason, the bet this year at Fitur has been to promote the San Andrés tables, one of its most popular traditions and, at the same time, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the municipality through virtual reality. The next challenge is for tourists to spend a few days in the City of Drago getting to know its cultural heritage, shopping in the shops, enjoying a swim on San Marcos beach or simply getting lost in the Canarian pine forest or visiting the Parque del Drago and the Cave of the Wind. “That is why we bet and we will continue to do so”, he assures.
-Icod has bet heavily on this edition of Fitur. There are no more brochures or magazines but virtual reality. What is the Icod 360 project about?
“It is about starting with a sample of our traditions through virtual reality. We have started with the tables of San Andrés. A few years ago a friend told me that he had to go to Funchal and see the baskets, to which he links with the boards. From then on I came determined that Icod had to take advantage of the tables and use them as a tool in the tourism sector. Thus, we decided to bring the tables to a virtual reality, that people knew our tradition, lived it and whoever does not dare to get on one and jump, that they could do it from virtual reality. And the truth is that it has been very well received, people were very surprised. You saw it in their faces and in the comments they made. We are working to add the historical component next year with an augmented virtual reality, that is, to offer a tool that also makes the history of San Andrés known”.
-Are you confident after this presentation that the tables are a tourist attraction, that the last weekend of November tourists come to Icod as they do, for example, on the day of the Corpus Christi carpets, to La Orotava?
“It already is, but obviously all this adds up and helps to take care of our destiny and take advantage of it if possible. It is clear that all the efforts they make is that there are more people and the more people know the destination, the more people will come to town. Last year San Andrés was different due to the pandemic but I am convinced that in 2022 we will be able to live it with all intensity and promote it so that many visitors come. It is our tradition, and in order to get to know it, it is important to come for a week or a weekend to know that in Icod we have the recipe for happiness. And that was the promotion we did in Fitur of the municipality, that of a magical town. And if we have been allowed to be, it is because it is understood that it is an authentic town, where we celebrate life and have festivals and traditions. In fact, we are the town in the Canary Islands that preserves the most traditions. That is what it is all about, that any time is a good time to come to Icod and experience our things with us. But there is a very special moment such as the Fiestas de San Andrés, there is no doubt about that”.
-Icod also showed his gastronomic experience at Fitur to journalists specialized in this matter with the consumption of rabbit, an icon of local gastronomy. From Fitur to Madrid Fusion?
“Yes, that’s the idea. Based on rabbit consumption there is a traditional dish, but later there are other formulas with which we are experimenting”.
-The municipality has a great treasure such as the Cueva del Viento, the largest volcanic tube in Europe and the fifth in the world. Are you getting enough out of it?
“In all the presentations we start with some videos where we explain what Icod de los Vinos is, from the sea to the summit. I always defend that Icod is at the foot of ‘father Teide’ and that it has the largest mass of pine forest, among which is the longest volcanic tube in Europe. In addition, it has a civil, historical, religious heritage and in the historic center the thousand-year-old dragon tree, an important commercial area and ends with the beach of San Marcos. This promotion of the municipality is present even this year through these videos. From the City Council we can make every effort but ownership and management is the Cabildo de Tenerife. We have wanted and insisted on its president, Pedro Martín, to visit the Cueva del Viento again, to see how the El Boquín estate is and to work so that these two enclaves can be jointly managed through the Interpretation Center of the Parque del Dragon”.
-You have claimed on many occasions that the Parque del Drago and the Cueva del Viento be a symbol of the tourism campaigns at the insular and regional level. Do you still claim it?
“Yeah right. That is why we continue to show our videos and it is present in our action, but I still miss the fact that promotional campaigns are not designed with the participation of all the peoples of the Canary Islands. We are all tourist and we must have that label, not only those with more beds. For people to come to the Canary Islands and Tenerife there has to be a destination that is interesting in every way. In the case of Icod, it is one of the most visited in the Archipelago”.
-Does the municipality have sufficient housing infrastructure?
“We have counted more than 2,000 beds, not only in emblematic hotels but also in rural tourism houses and vacation homes scattered throughout all the towns. In addition, we are working so that in the future there is a hotel in the town and that Riquel can also be recovered through sustainable tourist uses and that are linked, why not, with a wine activity, now that the Protection Agency is to start cleaning up this area of the coastline, which is a diamond in the rough. With some owners we continue working along these lines so that, once we have the General Management Plan approved, which I hope will be at the end of the summer, the countdown will begin in which we can materialize the recovery of Riquel”.
-Icod is the first municipality in the Canary Islands that is part of the Network of Magical Towns of Spain. What commitments does it entail?
“The fact of being with other pioneer tourist destinations in rural tourism implies the commitment to continue betting on being an authentic town and working in a line of quality, where our own, our traditions, the authentic values that many have are always present. towns that are magical, where life is celebrated and active, as well as being beautiful. It is joining a network that works in a line of joint promotion”.
-Also the first in the country to be in the Spanish Wine Tourism Association. Does being in these networks help to position yourself as a destination?
“Undoubtedly. We have had a meeting with the president of this association and the idea is, after seeing Icod, with a group of workers and advisors, to be able to direct some actions that are necessary and that are linked to the wine world that offers so many possibilities. There are many young people in the city who are taking the baton from the business initiative with new formulas for which we have to work and bet to continue having wines as spectacular as the ones we have”.
Icod 360: the application that allows you to ‘jump’ off a board
Icod de los Vinos attended the 45th edition of the International Tourism Fair (Fitur) with a technological novelty: Icod 360. It is a simple application that can be downloaded to a mobile phone using a QR code and enjoy the sensation of throwing yourself on a board through the steepest streets of the municipality, such as Plano, Hércules and San Antonio. Through virtual reality glasses and using this digital tool, you can live a unique experience even choosing the streets, if you want to go alone or accompanied, and do it on small boards or planks