Remember the double issue festive editions of the Radio and TV Times? That was when the holiday adverts would first appear, I used to flick through the numbered ads and then tick the four boxes on the order form and wait for four hefty brochures to plop through the letter box. Holiday marketing has come a long way since then, but you still can’t beat word of mouth and personal recommendation, that’s why the Tenerife Cabildo (government) pulled out all the stops to welcome 107 media scribes from the British Guild of Travel Writers.

John Carter (above) has changed with the times, I recognised him as a comforting face from my TV youth, fronting the BBC Holiday programme and later ITV’s Wish You Were Here. Grabbing a chat before the gala dinner at Bahia del Duque, I couldn’t resist asking “where’s Judith?” a chuckle and a reassurance that Miss Chalmers is retired but still sprightly, and John took me back to his early print days.

“I started covering travel for regional papers in Sheffield and Worcester before landing the role of Travel Editor for the Thomson Group of newspapers. After that I gradually started doing some TV work and it just grew.” During years of travelling John’s calls to Tenerife have had 20 year gaps between them so he has a good impression of how things have changed.

“In the 1960’s there was a weekly cruise ship, Union Castle to South Africa from Southampton, I was invited with my wife Sheila to join a voyage and we stopped off in Tenerife, staying in Puerto de la Cruz, that was the main tourism centre then. I came back for Wish You Were Here in the 80’s and this is my first trip since then. I was told originally that the government wanted to develop Tenerife for old holiday makers, along the lines of Florida, but that soon changes once the south took off. Now here I am back in print freelancing for The Mail On Sunday, and back in Tenerife. We (BGTW) have been offered a selection of tours around the island the last few days and I must say I’m impressed by what I have seen.”

Television still has a big part to play in promoting Tenerife, Petra Shepherd (above) head of research for the Travel Channel was pleasantly surprised by what she had seen. “I was here a couple of years ago for the ABTA conference at the Magma Centre, but I am getting to see much more this time, we did Teide, La Laguna, whale watching and Puerto de la Cruz, all impressive in their own ways”. A self confessed hiker, Petra was looking forward to the next days trip “we are going to the Anaga mountains beyond Santa Cruz, there’s a big market now for back packing holidays. Tenerife will always be a popular destination despite the emergence of places like Egypt and Turkey, people like the familiar, and they know they can rely on all year sun in Tenerife”.


New technology is good, just ask the thrilled delegates that lapped up a laser light show at the end of the on stage entertainment, following a lavish meal. Alastair McKenzie had more of a working holiday than most, as a committee member of the BGTW and webmaster, but he got his first visit surprises within hours of flying in. “I have seen other volcanic areas but was surprised to see how much of the land had been used in Tenerife, normally you would expect to see lots more undeveloped areas. I just had time to dump my stuff at the hotel before we were whisked off to a banana plantation in Fañabe, that was wonderful, something unexpected and different. We saw the packaging process for the crops and had a very pleasing meal that made very versatile use of bananas in a great rural setting.”

Everyone I asked about technology, pointed me in the direction of Alastair, definitely the man with his finger on the button or mouse. “Our members are making more and more use of social media, even before the trip the blog sites and Twitter were buzzing, they will be red hot for the next few weeks.”

It’s that buzz that Tenerife tourism hopes to use to entice more visitors to our shores in a subdued market. So keep your eyes peeled like a Tenerife banana, the newspapers, internet sites, TV, and podcasts should be alive with glowing praise for our favourite island.

British Guild of Travel Writers in Tenerife 2010 - View this group's most interesting photos on Flickriver