Learning curves in Tenerife north and south

What role do birds of prey perform at Tenerife South airport? How did the island cope with the heaviest rain for eight years? Does Tenerife make the most of its assets? Just a few questions that 22 students from Bucks New University in Wycombe, tried to answer during a week’s field trip to Tenerife. Their timing was unfortunate, as they caught some horrendous storms, but even those clouds were silver lined with some useful insights for their assignments.

After a four hour coach crawl back south from Puerto de la Cruz on the Monday of the storm’s peak, the next day’s journey was fast and smooth. Santa Cruz was quiet due to it being a public holiday, but teachers Tom Hose (right)and John Furley (left) were impressed at the hard work of the council workers and emergency services to clear the rock falls on the motorway and the streets of the capital.

Tom is principal lecturer for the Travel and Tourism Management course, and John is principal lecturer for the Airline and Airport Management course, both working towards a B.A degree. For Tom the trip had an added personal attraction, having a doctorate in Geotourism. “There’s a lot of interest In Tenerife because if its amazing geology, several British Universities bring regular parties here to study the formations.” Tom has already provided a chapter on Tenerife for a book Volcano Tourism, that comes out in April.

Practical matters gave the University the first insight into Tenerife; as Tom explained “We booked with Thomson Direct for a week’s self catering at the Columbus Aparthotel in Playa de Las Americas, that’s worked well for us, we are nice and central and they have made us very welcome. When it came to arranging our trips out we had some very specific requirements, luckily we found Tenerife Excursion on the internet and they have tailored everything to meet our needs.”

Arriving on a Friday, it may have seemed that the students were just relaxing around the beach over the weekend, but even that was a learning process. “We encouraged them to notice how the resort is laid out for pedestrians and transport, the service point for information etc, and to generally get a feel of how the place functions. Then Monday was Loro Park and Puerto de la Cruz and back north on Tuesday.”

After the slightly soggy arrival at Santa Cruz there was a parting of the ways. As John explained “I took my students on to Los Rodeos airport to have a look around. We had tried to arrange for an airport official to show us around but no one was available, it was still useful to see the day to day running though” Any lack of encouragement there was eclipsed the next day with a tour of Reina Sofia airport.

“They were magnificent, we contacted the general manager in advance and he laid on a full day for us, greeting us with his assistant they showed us the operations room, baggage handling, even the 12 birds of prey that they train to patrol and police the runways from flocks of smaller birds. We all had lunch as their guests and they gave all the students USB sticks packed with information, and are keeping in touch and sending us more facts and figures.”

La Laguna was proving to be an eye opener for Tom and his party. “After seeing Santa Cruz, we knew it was a holiday, but there was much more open in La Laguna and the layout is very different. The history there in the narrow streets is wonderful, the buildings and the lovely relaxed and quiet feel make it a great place to visit. We had hoped to make contact with the University but with the holiday and schools and colleges closed by the weather that wasn’t possible.”

The weather played a part again on the last day; Masca was given a miss, but Los Gigantes and Icod proved to be good stop offs on the way to Mount Teide National Park. “It was a shame the visitor’s centre was closed” recalls Tom, “but we did a general tour and made plenty of stops to see interesting flora, fauna and rock formations, and at least we got to see snow on the peak.”

So what lessons did the teachers learn about Tenerife? For Tom versatility was the key; “They need to sell the rural side of the island more, there’s so much to offer here. La Laguna was a classic example, such a lovely place but we were hardly aware of it before our visit. John was still glowing with praise for the South Airport. “It was great to meet senior management and see their enthusiasm; the staff all the way through seemed very happy and motivated.”

Hopefully as the students go on into key tourism and airline jobs they will have a special understanding and affection for Tenerife, and as for their University, they are already talking about making Tenerife a regular field trip.