International Office - Aberystwyth University

Routes Lingomap: Social Issues in Sunny Tenerife

Although Tenerife is home of some of the friendliest people I’ve ever had the chance to meet, social issues are still a big part of their reality. Throughout the 4 months I’ve spent serving in the island, I’ve witnessed some of the kindest acts of respect, as well as some of the rudest behaviours. One of the most concerning problems I’ve experienced in Tenerife is that, more often than not, people will show no courtesy or politeness. An example can be given if we talk about a person conducting a car; although the island offers very safe roads, as well as well instructed drivers, sometimes you could be stuck in an intersection for minutes. People see you and, although they know you are waiting to just drive on, they will still ignore your presence, and keep on going without even waving a hand or miming a quick “perdón”. You might think, “minutes? Why is that such a big deal?”, but then you’ve to remember that in any other place you’d spend almost no time waiting at an intersection that is not dictated by traffic lights. This is only an example of the entire idea.

Incredibly enough, the main social issue that we find in Tenerife is also their main source of income: tourism. Tourists, although they make the Spanish culture in the island fade away, are still a relevant and unreplaceable source of money for most citizens. Now you might say, “why are tourists, that actually bring money to this place, a social issue?”. Well, the answer is right there. Tenerife’s economy is over-dependent on tourism. A place like this one, which has a huge part of its population depending on the tourism sector, would be in deep trouble if the tourism started to subside. If one day people would stop coming to the Canary Islands, what would then happen to its prosperous economy? Well, that’s a social issue that has yet to be solved.

Remember when I said that the Spanish culture in Tenerife is fading away? That can also be considered a social issue. Culture is a very important factor when talking about how a country and its citizens behave. However, when a pretty big part of the population becomes individuals that come from other cultures, the original norms and values are often lost, changed and forgotten. Often in Tenerife you will see some areas in which other cultures prevail on the original one. This can be considered to be a pretty important social issue that comes with being a very touristy place: you need the visitors to keep the economy up, but how much can the culture be neglected until the population forgets about their background?

Believe it or not, tourism has also something to do with the next social issue. Tenerife is a beautiful island that not only offers the sea and its very own dormant volcano, which is also the tallest in Europe, but it also possesses great views and amazing trails, making it possible for an individual (or a group) to immerse themselves in nature and the countryside. However, due to the growing number of tourists coming each year, as well as the overgrowing population, these green pastures often are transformed into roads, hotels, tourist attractions etc., taking away yet another key characteristic of this island.

Tenerife is, like any other place in the world, filled with social issues. Some are really hard to handle, while others are easy to fix. Although social issues do exist, Tenerife still remains one of the most amazingly beautiful places that I’ve ever seen, and the people, although hard to read at times, are still very welcoming and nice to everyone that crosses their path.

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