photo: Tenerife Cabildo
Update 18 August 2015: The Tenerife Cabildo has said that it has finalised its plans for seven touristic “stars and volcanos” packages as part of the European-Commission financed EU Sky Route astrotourism project. Cabildo tourism councillor Alberto Bernabé said that they were highly satisfied with how the project had gone, and that the packages would serve holidaymakers and residents alike, as well as showing the diversity of Tenerife.
The various packages combine different activities, including visits to the observatories in the Teide national park followed by walks and a Teleférico ascent to observe the stars from the volcano in more than one way, or a visit to La Laguna – a Unesco heritage site – combined with entry to the Science and Cosmos museum just outside the city. The packages can be viewed on the website www.euskyroute.eu, and can be arranged by individuals, or via tour companies which offer additional services like expert guides.
Update 14 July 2014: The second meeting of the EU Sky Route project was held recently in Thessalonica and represented, the Tenerife Cabildo says, a further step towards its objective of creating astrotourism routes in participating territories, namely Poland, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy and Spain. The project is financed by the European Commission. Tenerife president Carlos Alonso stressed the importance of the project, which he said would allow the island further to develop this key tourism sector which benefits from the perfect dark-sky conditions to be found here. The Cabildo is delighted, of course, that this whole projects fits in so well with the forthcoming Starmus festival (link), which will see a galaxy of household names arrive here, including Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Rick Wakeman and Brian May.
At the recent meeting, the initial proposals were developed with Greece, for example, aiming to link its astrotourism with its mythological heritage, or in the case of Italy, with its Roman and Etruscan archaeology and history. In Tenerife, the tourism authorities are seeking to combine astrotourism with the already-existing “Volcanes de vida” to create a fusion of vulcanology and astronomy in the Teide national park where the environment itself becomes a key player in the experience. The official wording is fanciful, but why should it not be? Anyone who has been up Teide in the day, will have had a taste of the awesome experience, and by night, that is multiplied manyfold.
Further project development will be carried out individually now, and the next meeting should be held in April 2015.
Update 30 January 2014: Tenerife is hosting the first meeting of EUSky Route this week, the Cabildo has announced. President Alonso said that the pioneering project “will bring new possibilities for leisure and active tourism, economic development and job creation through the revaluation of astronomical heritage and associated resources to further enhance the destination’s diversification from the sun, sea and sand model.”
CEO of Turismo de Tenerife, Miguel Ángel Santos, stressed the quality of Tenerife’s night sky, “confirmed by the recent granting of the Starlight Certification to Teide and Tenerife’s peaks, and the fact that we have the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics and the observatories at Izaña where prestigious national and international scientists are working.”
The EUSky Route project envisages creating sky watching and star gazing routes in participating regions, and targeting them to different markets, whether families, groups, the retired. It also aims to incorporate new professional profiles into cultural tourism and promote the development of a mobility scheme based on sustainability and respect for the environment.
Taking part in this week’s meeting with Tenerife Tourism are the National Astrophysics Institute of Cagliari (INAF) and the Institute of Regional Economic Trends (TENDER ), both from Italy; the Institute for Social Development of Lisbon (IDS) from Portugal; the Centre for Science and Museum of Technology of Thessaloniki (NOESIS) from Greece; consultancy firm Gantcho Popov (GPOPOV) from Bulgaria;, the Regional Tourism Organization of Subcarpathia (PROT) from Poland; and the Valencia Agency of Tourism (AVT) from Spain. The group arrived on the island on Monday and were welcomed by President Alonso.
All will be involved in a series of intense work sessions including a visit to the Teide National Park, the Izaña Observatory telescopes and, of course, stargazing after dark. During the meetings an agenda has been outlined for the different activities to be developed for creating the astronomy routes within the next 18 months. During this period, members of the project will resolve issues such as funding and technical resources, as well as available infrastructure and those that need to be created; designing tour packages and their contents according to traveller behaviour and market circumstances as well as the involvement of the other participants.
Original post 3 January 2014: I’ve posted before about the Canarian government’s “up-market tourism” drive, and how part of this is directed to niche markets, whether walking, windsurfing, gastronomy, and the like. I’ve also mentioned astrotourism, which Tenerife understandably places in high priority because of the observatories here and in La Palma, and the wonderfully clear night sky. Now, Tenerife’s own tourism authorities have scored a huge victory, with the Cabildo designated as leader of the “EU Sky Route”, a European project to create astrotourism in different parts of Europe particularly suited to study of the night sky.
The Cabildo says that it will head a group of seven other authorities located in Poland, Italy (2 members), Portugal, Bulgaria, Greece and Spain (Catalonia and Extremadura). Tenerife president Carlos Alonso said that taking part in such a pioneering project would bring many new opportunities for Tenerife’s tourism, and therefore for Tenerife’s economy and employment prospects generally. President Alonso stressed that Tenerife’s night sky was of an incredible internationally-renowned clarity and quality, and offered unique advantages which would benefit tourism, and allow an expansion into the government’s “niche markets”, an alternative to Tenerife’s traditional “sun and sand” holidays.
Brussels will be funding the project, and it will involve not only tourism or astronomical authorities, but also social and economic businesses and institutions. The first meeting of the project will be held in Tenerife at the end of this month to start to establish the different activities which can be developed to create “astronomy routes”. The scheme is expected to be fully in place within 18 months.