“Surfing has a lot to do with sustainable development in a tourism destination”
Adrián García Perdigón, professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of La Laguna, told students yesterday that surfing is very much a part of the economic motor of the Canary Islands, and the islands were considered the Hawaii of Europe given their excellent waves throughout the year.
García Perdigón spoke as part of the Adeje Summer University on the theme of surfing and tourism, emphasising the importance of the sport as a tourism generator, and the waves “as a resource that generate a sustainable economy as well as a culture related to a global phenomenon – surfing”.
Las Américas, La Caleta in Adeje, Taganana, Anaga, Valle Guerra, Punta de Hidalgo, El Médano, Pozo Izquierdo or Jandía, just some of the locations cited by the expert as surfing top spots, as well as important centres for tourism in the islands. And given the year-round climatic conditions, the Canarias is an excellent choice for surfers whatever the season. He also referred to the parallel economic advantages to promoting surfing here – fashion, music, image, materials, etc.
“The average cost of a surfer staying in the Canarias and practising her or his sport is €30 a day, so annually this sport generates an income of about six billion dollars globally and over half of those who are surfers on holiday also spend time and money on other, nature-related, sports such as mountain walking or climbing. In other words, these are tourists with a vested interested in the environment and while on holiday will care for their surroundings with the intention of leaving a place as they found it”, said García Perdigón.
It follows, he continued, that there needs to be a symbiosis between the local environment and the local population who also need to be made aware of the relevance and importance of caring for the location. “We’re not just talking about promoting surfing as a tourism activity, but also creating complementary activities which are also sustainable, such as surfing schools, though currently these are operating without proper legislation”.
There are currently over 1,000 surfers registered here, “although we do realise that many more practise the sport”. Statistics show that most of those who surf are under 30 years of age, and the sport is very popular among young women, which isn’t surprising with role models such as Alexandra Rinder, Marina Taylor and Iballa Ruano, top class surf and body board stars. And while surfing as a business might be relatively new in the Canarias it is a proved economic motor in other parts of the world with over 10 million surfers globally.