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A yr after its eruption, the La Palma volcano attracts vacationers in droves

Many vacationers come to find the lunar landscapes created by the volcanic catastrophe.

On September 19, 2021, an eruption that will final three months started within the small city of El Paso, within the Canary Islands. Practically a yr later, the mountains of ash proceed to cowl the environment of the La Palma volcano. Teodoro Gonzalez walks by way of a forest coated in volcanic residue. “It is like strolling on a brand new planet”breathes this hiker.

When this volcano – now known as Tajogaite and never Cumbre Vieja as when it erupted – wakened final yr, the 54-year-old nurse rushed to the small island of La Palma to see the lava flows burning along with his personal eyes. A yr later, he returned, this time to admire the extinct volcano. “Seeing a not too long ago erupted volcano is a once-in-a-lifetime alternative”explains the 50-year-old, who got here from the neighboring island of Tenerife.

For the reason that starting of the eruption, which ended on December 25 after 85 days, vacationers have flocked to find these lunar landscapes. And curiosity in La Palma, till then one of many much less visited islands of the Canary archipelago, has since boomed.

Rising curiosity within the island

Based on the lodge group Ashotel, the common occupancy price in institutions on the island reached 90.9% in August. A quantity effectively above expectations. “Earlier than the eruption, we had hassle making ourselves identified”explains Carlos Garcia Sicilia, the vice-president of Ashotel. “Definitely, the volcano was an excellent misfortune, a blow to the economic system of the island. However I feel half the planet has heard of La Palma by now.”.

Nicknamed “La Isla Bonita” (“The Lovely Island”), La Palma is dwelling to unspoiled nature, together with verdant forests, rocky peaks and desert landscapes. It has been declared a biosphere reserve by Unesco.

“Definitely, the volcano was an excellent misfortune, a blow to the economic system of the island. However I feel half the planet has heard of La Palma by now”

Carlos Garcia Sicilia, Vice President of Ashotel

Property of selection that tour operators intend to spotlight. The variety of cruise ships calling at La Palma has thus elevated in current months, as has the variety of direct flights from mainland Spain and Europe. Low-cost airline Ryanair opened a base on the island in March.

The group Excursiones Jesus, which provides day journeys by ferry from Tenerife, probably the most visited island within the Canary Islands, now provides three weekly journeys in comparison with only one earlier than the eruption. “Individuals wish to get as shut as doable to the place the eruption occurred”underlines the founding father of the corporate, Jesus Molino.

Journey vouchers distributed

Among the many vacationers flocking to the island are regulars, like Rita Ley, a 59-year-old German retiree who got here to see what La Palma appeared like a yr later. “It is laborious as a result of every thing has been destroyed”the lava flows having engulfed greater than 1,000 homes, “but it surely’s fascinating to see that the Earth is alive”she says.

For the federal government, which has distributed 20,000 journey vouchers of 250 euros to Spaniards that can be utilized in lodges and eating places, tourism is seen as a option to revive the island’s economic system. To spice up its attraction, a large zip line has even been inaugurated within the north of La Palma, in addition to a customer middle on the astronomical observatory of Roque de los Muchachos.

The authorities are additionally serving to to rebuild vacationer infrastructure. 3,000 of the 8,000 vacationer beds on La Palma have been destroyed by lava or are situated in areas which might be off-limits, because of the persistence of harmful volcanic gases. However will these efforts enable a long-lasting presence of vacationers on the island? Lately, Hawaii and Iceland have additionally seen the variety of guests soar after eruptions, however the phenomenon has run out of steam.

A state of affairs that the sector fears in La Palma. The volcanic eruption “received’t be as contemporary in individuals’s reminiscence” subsequent yr and the island will little question be ‘not as standard’predicts Jonas Perez, founding father of Isla Bonita Excursions.

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