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Is sustainability the new buzz word for Puerto de la Cruz? 

Carnaval is almost upon us. This year it comes to Puerto de la Cruz even earlier as the town plays host to the annual North Tenerife ‘Murgas’ competition, the stage for which they have been busy constructing for weeks in what the town hall describes as the Muelle Esplanade, an area that most people call the muelle car park.

This is the reason the car park has remained closed following the departure of the Christmas fair on 9th January. In preparation for the preparations, I suppose, almost a month to build a stage, yes, that sounds about right.
Not that the car park has been closed to everyone, some locals, it seems, feel it’s still ok, to park around its edges, just off the tarmac on the rough ground. I almost admire their interpretation of logic. If they are not directly ‘in the way’ then it’s ok to ignore the no parking signs. Try it if you like. Not me, I am one of a quite rare breed of drivers in Puerto who prefers to park legally, that’s why you won’t find my car on yellow lines, in bus stops, across driveways, double parked, or anywhere else it shouldn’t be. When I stop and think about it, I’m quite boring really. The other day I did see that a hire car driver had taken the risk, or at least I assume it had been parked there as what I actually witnessed was it just disappearing out of the car park on the back of the Grua. More money destined for the council’s coffers.
Why the need to build a stage in the car park, basically because there isn’t anywhere else suitable. As it is, it’s taken contractors four months to knock down the town’s old venue (Parque San Francisco), who knows how long it will take to build the new one. Meanwhile, of course, there is always Plaza Europa, in front of the town hall; however, more recently they seem a bit shy of building too big a stage there. Whether this adds any weight to the rumour that the supporting structure isn’t completely sound is anybody’s guess. Perhaps the event just calls for a bigger venue. There is certainly plenty of room for spectators in the car park, assuming that is, they can find somewhere else to park before hand.
I am thinking that as this stage will be ready built that the rest of the Puerto’s Carnivals’ major events will also be taking place in the Explanada del Muelle, weather permitting that is, always a worry when it’s in February.

New brand
Last month our Mayor and the councillors directly responsible for tourism took time out from what must be a busy town hall schedule to re-present Puerto de la Cruz at FITUR in Madrid. FITUR is the largest trade show in Spain for tourism and each year delegates from the town attend to pitch Puerto de la Cruz as the must go to destination. Usually there is some new incentive or a new slogan to promote. For instance, in the past they have tried to market the town as a five star lo-cation, or as a centre for sport, and we also saw the introduction of the ‘Puerto de la Cruz –Parte de ti’ brand.
Puerto de la Cruz, part of you, is this still the current brand? The reasoning be-hind the brand was twofold, the first being that visitors to the town should feel at home, the second being that the town’s residents are its best ambassadors. I always felt Puerto was my second home when I used to holiday here, but perhaps my dark glasses were in fact rose tinted. Am I a good ambassador as a resident, possibly not, I think I am overly critical of its shortcomings. As are many others apparently, you just need to peruse some of the local social media sites to find plenty of evidence. I only ask if it’s still current as some of the signs, its advertising hoardings for the logo for want of a better description, had been taken down, temporarily I thought, but they have yet to reappear. Not that I am hankering for their return, I hasten to add.
So what of this year’s FITUR message? No new brand or logo, thankfully, though lots of talk of sustainability. What does it mean? Obviously I know what the word means, but what does it mean for the town? It is a bit of a buzz word and its ‘fashionable’ to band it around, but are they talking about economic or environmental sustainability?
Let’s take economic first, aren’t they looking for an increase in visitor numbers, the new team at the town hall certainly aren’t as gung ho about visitor numbers as their predecessors, or are they just trying to make a positive out of the expectation that the numbers will continue to plateau. Visitor numbers for Puerto de la Cruz for 2019 up to November, (I haven’t seen the full year yet) were on a par with 2018, and not much different to 2017. Perhaps the real challenge for 2020 will be maintaining that level.
No, what I am sure they are talking about are the town’s efforts to achieve ecological sustainability. So, what are these achievements, low energy street lights, very good, and recycling bins throughout the town, fair enough, but there is no drive to encourage homes and businesses to use them. Plastic bags still abound in Puerto de la Cruz, they even put one in every litter bin, why’s that, for ease of emptying I guess.
They claim that Puerto de la Cruz is a cycle friendly town, a sustainable form of transport. Whoever thinks its cycle friendly must have good calf muscles, and if it so friendly where are all the cycle lanes. The latest craze in ‘sustainable’ transport, which are now available to rent in some of the town’s hotels are electric scooters. If they are an alternative to walking then how is this sustainable? It’s time to get on my bike and move on to another topic.
We all know that Puerto appeals to the older visitor, it always has done, however, this year the aim is to try to attract younger visitors to the town. Not really a new initiative, it’s been tried before, and I am surprised it is being considered again as in recent years the town emphasis has been to fill the town with pensioner s from the Peninsula, taking advantage of their state supported holidays.
So what do we have to appeal to the younger visitor that is going to steal them away from their more traditional destinations? Apparently, it is the town’s music festivals. Of course, I should have realised, there is Phe in August, but what else? Penon Rock, or so it seems, an annual concert with a headline act who found fame in the 80’s, and something new for this year, there will be Soul Lake, soul music in Lago Martiánez, I assume. Plus the town’s local theatre is currently featuring tribute acts of well known groups and singers.
I admit my knowledge of music probably petered out in the early 90’s, so I am somewhat in the dark here. Does this type of music, apart from Phe, really appeal to the younger visitor? Hang on though, perhaps I’ve got this all wrong, perhaps by younger visitors they don’t mean ‘ youngsters’ as I have assumed, but visitors who are just a few years younger than those who currently visit. It is all beginning to make sense now.
Another claim from FITUR is that the town’s Summer Carnaval is unique, there is not another like it in the world, supposedly. Surely this is an ambitious claim; lots of places have summer carnivals, much bigger and grander affairs than Puerto’s, but do any of them choose to forgo the traditional Carnival Queen in favour of a Carnival King as Puerto did last year, I suspect there are quite a few. Now if we really want to be different we could go gender neutral and in place of a Carnaval King or Queen we could have a Carnaval They. Better still why not drop the whole outdated beauty pageant idea altogether and choose someone more worthy to lead the Carnaval.
That’s it, now I have finished I can look forward to our winter Carnaval. I haven’t seen a programme yet, but the format is tried and tested and doesn’t vary much. However, with the new team in the town hall who knows what could happen, they have already proved themselves to be quite partial to celebrating local festivities.