Emergency services are free here by calling 112 just as they are in the UK when calling 999. Tenerife is increasingly known, however, as a location for “activity” holidays like walking, windsurfing, star gazing, golfing, etc. These are part of the niche markets that the tourism authorities are hoping will attract “upmarket” holidaymakers, but often they carry risks, and in 2012, the Canarian Government passed a law which introduced a charge for emergency rescues for those undertaking “risky activities”.
The Canaries is not the only autonomous region to do this, with similar laws in place in Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque Country. Here, the so-called “Ley de Tasas”, properly Ley 4/2012 de 25 de junio de medidas administrativas y fiscales, allows for charges to be made up to a maximum of €6,000 when rescues are required because of recreational or sporting activities that involve risk or danger.
Charges towards costs for emergency assistance can be made when the participant –
- was undertaking an activity defined by the law as risky (see list below)
- failed to obey official warning instructions or bans
- failed to observe warning signs
- was undertaking a banned activity
- was undertaking an activity without required authorization
- was undertaking an activity without equipping themselves appropriately
The Ley de Tasas sets charges in terms of the numbers needing rescue, and so a rescue involving up to 4 victims will have a ceiling of €6,000. In very rare cases where larger groups are involved the ceiling will be set at €8,000 for 5-8 needing rescue, €10,000 for 9-16, and €12,000 for 16+. The law also allows got the charges to be levied against the estate of anyone who dies during their rescue, a measure which the regional Goverment insists complies with the provisions of national fiscal legislation.
The list of activities classified by the law as risky is the following – the law says “this type of activity”, so other similar activities will be deemed to be included. The translation is immediately below the list in Spanish – some of these I just don’t recognize in any language! others are universally recognizable.
- submarinismo, travesía de natación, windsurfing, flysurf, esquí acuático, wakeboard, wakesurf, skurfer, motos de agua, bodyboard, surf, rafting, hydrospeed, piragüismo, remo, descenso de cañones y barrancos, puenting, goming, kite buggy, quads, escalada, espeleología deportiva o “espeleismo”, bicicleta en montaña, motocross, vehículos de motor en montaña, raid y trec hípico, marchas y turismo ecuestre, esquí, snowboard, paraski, snowbike, skibike, aerostación, paracaidismo, salto base, vuelo de ultraligeros, vuelo en aparatos con motor y sin motor, parapente, ala delta y parasailing.
scuba diving, open sea swimming, windsurfing, kitesurfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, wakesurf, skurfing, jet skiing, bodyboarding, surfing, rafting, hydro, kayaking, rowing, descending barrancos, bungee jumping, kite buggy, quads, rock climbing, pot holing, mountain biking, motocross, mountain motorbiking, equestrian trekking, horse riding, skiing, snowboarding, paraskiing, snowbiking, skibiking, hot air ballooning, parachuting, base jumping, ultralight flying, powered paragliding, paragliding, hang gliding and parasailing.