Lanzarote is leading the way of sustainable tourism in Canary Islands

Lanzarote is a unique destination full of contrasts and surprises, where people live in harmony with nature. Devastating volcanic forces from the 18th and 19th centuries have shaped the island of Lanzarote in its magnificent beauty as we see it today. With dramatic volcanic peaks, craters, and lava rock rivers on one side and white-sanded beaches with crystal-clear waters on the other, Lanzarote will make you want to stay longer.

Did you know, Lanzarote has such a unique landscape that back in 1993, UNESCO declared the island a Biosphere Reserve? The objective of a Biosphere Reserve is to preserve and generate natural and cultural values of a place through thoughtful use of resources, respect for the local society, and overall sustainable development.

The sustainable tourism vision of Lanzarote island

Canary Green met with Héctor Fernández Manchado, the CEO of Turismo Lanzarote, to get more insights on the vision of sustainable tourism in the Canary Islands and the success of Lanzarote. Héctor explains:

“Even though sustainability is a trending topic nowadays, Lanzarote sustainability vision actually started more than 50 years ago when hardly anyone was talking about sustainable development linked to tourism. At the time, we were lucky to have president of the Cabildo de Lanzarote, José Ramírez Cerdá, and artist César Manrique leading the way. They had the vision to limit tourism activity to safeguard the cultural heritage of the island.”

“This vision is still the foundation of what we are doing as an organization and as a community here in Lanzarote. Turismo Lanzarote aims to promote sustainable, slow tourism on Lanzarote island, encourage local businesses to be more sustainable as well as urge Lanzarote holidaymakers to approach nature with care, respect, and stay informed. Leave a minimal impact.”
Canary Green with Turismo Lanzarote
Héctor Fernández Manchado
CEO of Turismo Lanzarote

In the ’90s Lanzarote was the first of the Canary Islands to limit the expansive growth of tourism. Following the founding vision, Lanzarote keeps prioritizing quality tourists instead of mass tourism to prevent the negative impact on the environment and create a long-term-destination with its own character.

What unites everyone in the Lanzarote tourism sector?

The people of Lanzarote are committed to their future. Héctor discloses the secret ingredients of Lanzarote islands sustainable tourism success:

  1. The spirit of the place (Genius loci). César Manrique had a vision that it is impossible to become a valued tourism destination without the very people and the culture of the place – the genius loci. Something that is experienced and felt when visiting Lanzarote rather than something that necessarily exists, like a landmark or a city. It is the wholeness of the island created by everyone. From the taxi driver to the local artist on the corner of the street, to the ice cream vendor. Every single one of us here is responsible for shaping Lanzarote as a destination.
  2. The versatility of sustainable tourism. In essence, sustainability has three dimensions – social, economic, and environmental aspects. Social and economic aspects are often left behind when thinking about sustainable development, but those are the ones concerning local businesses, local culture, gastronomy, arts, experiences. In Lanzarote, we aim to embody all three aspects as equally important.
  3. The continuous growth of a sustainability mindset. In 2015, Lanzarote became one of the first destinations in the world to receive the prestigious Biosphere Responsible Tourism certification, granted by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, however, Turismo Lanzarote recognizes that this certification, although honorable, is not enough. For example, Turismo Lanzarote now has shifted its focus on zero-kilometer food, sustainable transportation, and the development of a methodology to measure sustainability and communicate it effectively to visitors. “You have to show your commitment to sustainability every single day. And you have to strive to be better. There is always something more you can do, so keep evolving!” Héctor says.

Turismo Lanzarote is working on The Premier Product

“Due to the pandemic, we can see changes in travelers. People are considering sustainability more seriously than in the past. Even Lanzarote needs to evolve faster to not lose the momentum,” Héctor says. More and more tourists are open to paying more for a vacation at a sustainable destination, where local businesses invest in sustainability. The Premier Product is a strategy for sustainable Lanzarote hotels to attract quality tourists instead of mass tourists. Héctor explains the idea:

“Premier Product embodies the goal we aim to achieve in sustainable tourism in Lanzarote for all hotels and businesses. We are looking for responsible, sustainable travelers who view Lanzarote as a special destination and are willing to indulge in the local culture, have local experiences, and honor the local community. Premier Product is not a strategy for luxury. Rather it is a strategy for maintaining Lanzarote as a luxurious, authentic destination in all its glory – nature, the people, gastronomy, art, architecture, and culture.”
Canary Green with Turismo Lanzarote
Héctor Fernández Manchado
CEO of Turismo Lanzarote

Lanzarote is a pioneer in designing and offering experiences that leave a lasting impact on travelers while protecting the environment. “We don’t want to be a standard destination, we want to be a destination with a personality,” Héctor emphasizes. The best sustainable hotels on the island make a great effort to entice tourists to venture outside of their accommodations to explore the local culture and activities on offer. Along with sustainable accommodation, they offer a unique holiday experience and a chance to support the local economy. Here is what the Canary Green team can recommend for your next trip to Lanzarote:

Where to stay

  • Kamezi Boutique Villas – a luxurious, authentic getaway with plenty of privacy. Located in the southernmost town of Lanzarote, Playa Blanca, Kamezi is a place where sustainability goes beyond environmental practices. Kamezi team is dedicated to offering their guests a sustainable luxury, an authentic experience honoring the local culture, art, and people.
  • If you have an urge to take a more experience-driven route, the family-owned business Lanzarote Retreats might just have the perfect accommodation for your next alternative holiday experience. Lanzarote Retreats offer multiple luxury villas, holiday homes, and eco-stays across the Lanzarote island. At their flagship location Finca de Arrieta, you will be immersed in the off-grid vibe inviting you to unplug and reconnect with nature.
  • When it comes to sustainable construction, architecture, and smart building systems, the five-star La Isla y El Mar is the flagship hotel on Lanzarote island! Located in one of the main tourist resorts of the island, Puerto del Carmen, La Isla y El Mar is an oasis of peace and relaxation where the body rests and the heart enjoys.

What to Do

  • Famara beach (Playa de Famara). Sheltered by the mountain cliff, Famara is one of the most famous and spectacular sceneries of Lanzarote.
  • Bike Sensations e-bike ride along the coast of Puerto del Carmen. If you want to pick up speed when exploring Lanzarote, Bike Sensations electric bike is the way to do it!
  • Timanfaya hike. Explore the Natural Park of the Volcanoes and discover wonderful, volcanic landscapes, ascending volcanic cones, and spectacular craters.
  • César Manrique House Museum – the benchmark of Lanzarote’s art world. A spectacular house designed by the artist himself and built around 7 volcanic caves in the picturesque village of Haria.

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Thank you

Thank you to everyone involved in this Canary Green project where our aim is to help promote sustainable tourism in the Canary Islands.

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