Lanzarote’s volcanic vistas and landscapes have often been described as lunar and other worldly. And the producers of the new series of the BBC TV classic Doctor Who most obviously agree – as they have just finished shooting a new Time Lord tale on the island, making liberal use of the dramatic scenery in and around the Timanfaya Volcano Park, the island’s most popular visitor attraction.
Lanzarote’s volcanic region occupies about one quarter of the island’s total land mass and was created by violent eruptions in the 1730’s. Now in geological terms this means that the resulting landscapes are still virtually brand new and pristine, as erosion has had little chance to soften the twisted lava flows and dramatic shapes created by these fiery events. All of which means that Lanzarote is in fact a real natural for the makers of futuristic or science fiction movies, as evidenced by the filming of classics such as One Million Years BC and Krull in years gone by.
Indeed, as ardent fans of the show will know this isn’t even the first time that the Doctor has visited the planet Sarn – which was Lanzarote’s ‘stage name’ in a previous episode, aptly entitled Planet of Fire Part One, that was filmed here way back in 1984, starring Peter Davison as the 5th Time Lord.
During this 80’s episode the Doctor travels with his faithful sidekick Turlough to investigate the source of a signal thought to be emanating from the planet Trion, which ultimately draws them to Sarn/Lanzarote. And according to production sources on the show the Doctor is visiting the scene of this previous adventure once again, although there have apparently been some disturbing developments since his last visit (sounds familiar – perhaps they are referring to the slew of illegally built hotels in nearby Playa Blanca!).
Either way, the local tourist board are reportedly delighted with this latest publicity coup, not least as Doctor Who is a real favourite in the UK, which is the island´s largest tourist market. The new episode will of course star Peter Capaldi, the latest Time Lord, along with sidekick Jenna Louise Coleman and is expected to be screened in late summer or early autumn.
Doctor Who is now in its eighth series and has been a regular favourite on British TV screens since 1964. The show is also popular in Spain, where it is better known as Doctor Misterioso.
Lanzarote’s growing popularity as a holiday destination shows no signs of abating any time soon. As according to the latest data just released by AENA, the Spanish Airports Authority, foreign passenger numbers have soared by over 20% during the first four months of 2013 alone.
Lanzarote welcomed over 2.1 million tourists last year, an impressive figure for such a relatively small island. And this figure looks set to grow substantially again in 2014, as over 690,000 foreign tourists have already enjoyed a break here this year.
Where is this growth coming from? Well, if expenditure on foreign holidays is any type of positive economic indicator then it is fair to say that the recovery in Britain is well and truly under way, as the UK, Lanzarote’s largest market, is sending over more tourists than ever before, accounting for 50% of all foreign arrivals. An upswing that can also be attributed to the fact that there is now much more competition amongst the low cost carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet on the UK to Lanzarote route, which has helped to bring flight prices down substantially over the last couple of years.
This same factor is also driving growth in newer markets. For example the French are now able to reach Lanzarote direct with Ryanair for the first time with prices from as little as 65 euros one way. And as a result arrivals have boomed too, with France now rapidly establishing itself as Lanzarote’s fourth largest market after the UK, Germany and Eire.
April was the fourth consecutive month of double digit growth in passenger numbers flying to Lanzarote, as arrivals in January, February and March rose by 25%, 24% and 14% respectively. And should this current rate of growth continue Lanzarote will break the 2.5million visitor barrier for the first time in 2014.
In these celebrity obsessed times, what is the endorsement of a Prime Minister worth? Well according to PR experts in the UK, David Cameron’s well documented spring break in Lanzarote generated some 1.2 million euros worth of free media coverage for the island. But just how free was it exactly? As to many long term residents this so called holiday was little more than a slick PR stunt, designed to generate column inches for both the island and the Cameron’s, whilst also depicting ‘just-call-me-Dave’ as a real down to earth kind of dude.
Business or pleasure Mr Cameron? Well in truth it was a little bit of both. As despite desperately trying to depict themselves as just an ordinary family in search of some Easter sun there can be little doubt that our Eton educated PM’s visit last month was also very carefully choreographed in close cahoots with the local tourist board.
Why so? Well there was of course the now obligatory, man of the people arrival on a Ryanair flight, a publicity ruse perfected by Tony Blair and also often utilised by our ever so ordinary Royals. And given David’s well recorded love of chillaxing he didn’t just flop out by the pool with the kids, as would be expected of any other 47 year old father at the not very secret location of Casa Tomaren, an exclusive and expensive rural retreat which specialises in yoga breaks.
As instead his hand-picked itinerary included photo opportunities in some of the island’s key locations, encompassing surfing with the kids at Famara, the most picturesque beach on the island, shopping at Teguise market – Lanzarote’s busiest weekly event and dining in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote’s largest tourist resort. All of which suggests that the Cameron’s were hardly trying to get away from it all whilst also ensuring a steady stream of daily coverage in both local and international media.
Well they say that there can be a sting in the tail – and there certainly is in this tale. As on the penultimate day of his holiday the PM was stung on the arm by a jellyfish whilst swimming at Arrieta. Some observers (well, one actually) claim that a column of male British tourists formed immediately , only too keen to help administer a well-known natural remedy. Now that really would have made a great picture for the national press back home!