Tenerife’s idyllic island life

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Garachico is billed as the prettiest town on the island of Tenerife. (Shutterstock)
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Balloonists take in the sights of Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. (Shutterstock)
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The Auditorio de Tenerife was designed by Santiago Calatrava Valls and has become an architectural symbol of Santa Cruz. (Shutterstock)
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Visitors to Tenerife should be sure to sample the seafood. (Shutterstock)
Updated 12 June 2019

Tenerife’s idyllic island life

  • Ignore the stereotypes and embrace one of Europe’s most enthralling destinations
  • The mountains are filled with wonderful scenery and spectacular coastal hiking trails.

DUBLIN: Tenerife might conjure up images of greasy English breakfasts and Brits abroad, but this island has a huge amount to offer the more discerning traveller. Yes, there are plenty of all-inclusive resorts and cheesy karaoke venues, but there are also picturesque villages, wonderful, buzzing port towns, and stunning scenery.

The best place to start exploring the largest of the Canary Islands is the vibrant capital: Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the northeast. Your first stop should be the Auditorio, the Santiago Calatrava-designed home of the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra. Once you have updated your Instagram feed, head to the Museum of Man and Nature, which tells the story of the Canary Islands from their chaotic, volcanic beginnings to the present day. There are three floors of exhibits, which include mummified remains of the islands’ earliest inhabitants.

Next door is the Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, which is home to a variety of modern art from the islands, and a popular café where you can chow down on a three-course lunch menu for less than $12. If you fancy some retail therapy, head to El Corte Ingles, located in the center of the city’s shopping district. The seventh-floor café offers spectacular views of the Anaga Mountains just north of the city. The mountains are filled with wonderful scenery and spectacular coastal hiking trails. The weather here is often wet (even when the sun is shining on the rest of the island), so make sure to bring suitable clothing. The trade winds bring all manner of plant life to this part of the island – look out for Dragon trees, prickly pears and a host of intriguing plants and shrubs.

Of course, it’s not just the northeast of the island that’s home to world-class hiking, and the jewel in the island’s crown is Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site comprising a 10-mile-wide volcano which rises 3,718 metres above sea level and dominates the center of the island. On a clear day, ride the cable car to the top for spectacular views of Tenerife and the surrounding islands. If you prefer to get there on two feet, there is a hiking route to the top, just be sure to bring plenty of water. The park is filled with picturesque trails, and you will often be the only one on them. Once night falls, the park attracts stargazers from around the world, as the volcanic landscape and lack of artificial light provide the perfect backdrop to scanning the heavens. Base yourself in the Parador de Las Canadas del Teide, a lodge-style retreat located in the volcanic crater.

Back down at sea level, you could do worse than head to Costa Adeje, which offers plenty to do, from watersports and whale- and dolphin-watching to countless restaurants, cafes and nightlife. It’s a bit more reserved than the raucous Playa de Las Americas further down the coast, and all the better for it. After a few days R&R, we recommend heading back up north to the wonderful fishing village of Garachico. Billed as the prettiest town on the island, it’s also one of the unluckiest, once being one of the richest towns in Europe, before nature — more specifically the Montana Negra volcano — interceded, destroying the town’s harbor. The disaster ensured much of the town is preserved as it was hundreds of years ago, and it’s an extremely pleasant place to spend a few days in.

Less than an hour’s drive from Garachico is Cueva de Viento, the largest lava tube system in Europe, and the most complex volcanic tube in the world. It consists of 17km of tunnels, filled with multiple passageways, lava pits and terraces. There are daily tours and tickets must be bought online in advance. It’s a great way to end your Tenerife journey, in a place that’s beautiful, surprising and cultured in equal measure.

Malaysia seeks to attract more Arab tourists

Updated 17 June 2019

Malaysia seeks to attract more Arab tourists

  • Tourism minister tells Arab News how his country plans to do so

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is on a mission to welcome more tourists from the Arab world, establishing itself as a cosmopolitan, halal paradise.
With pristine beaches and diverse cultures, the Southeast Asian country has become a magnet for Middle Eastern tourists.
“Malaysia enjoys good relations with the Middle East. Arabs will always feel welcome in Malaysia. We have mutual respect for each other,” Malaysian Tourism, Art and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Haji Ketapi told Arab News.
“Malaysia has a multicultural society. There are a lot of ethnic groups that live happily and peacefully in this country.”
Colonized by the British, migrants from China and India were brought to Malaysia as laborers. “The country is a mix of people … such as the Malays, Chinese and Indians,” said Haji Ketapi.
“Malaysia has countless places to visit besides the capital Kuala Lumpur,” he added, citing Penang, Melaka, the Langkawi islands and Sabah.
“In the Middle East, most of the visitors are from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, the UAE and other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries,” he said.

Malaysia's Tourism, Art and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Haji Ketapi.  (AN photo)

In 2018, nearly 33,000 Arab tourists visited Malaysia, up from 27,000 the previous year. “We want to have more Middle Eastern tourists,” said Haji Ketapi, adding that the majority of Arab tourists are from Saudi Arabia.
The number of Arab tourists is expected to rise further as Malaysia continues to position itself as a Muslim-friendly, halal haven.
Saudi tourists spend the most when holidaying in Malaysia, at $257 per capita, more than visitors from the UK, the US and Australia, said Haji Ketapi.
“Recently, we were in Dubai promoting Malaysia to attract more Arabs. They’re considered high-end tourists,” he added.
“When they come to Malaysia, they can spend up to six or seven nights, or even more. They stay longer in Malaysia than some other tourists.”
Saudi tourists spent on average 10.1 nights holidaying in Malaysia. “They come to Malaysia for health treatments, shopping and holidaying,” said Haji Ketapi.
“Some of them even come here for business. They have restaurant businesses. That’s why you can easily find Arabic restaurants.”
This year, Malaysia was ranked by the Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index as the top travel destination for Muslim travellers for the ninth year in a row.
“Halal food can be easily found in the country. The majority of the population are Muslims,” said Haji Ketapi.

Malaysia's Tourism, Art and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Haji Ketapi speaking to Arab News journalist Nor Arlene Tan. (AN photo)

Muslim tourists “can go anywhere in the country without difficulty,” he added. “Mosques are everywhere for them to perform prayers. During Ramadan, there are a lot of Middle Eastern tourists visiting Malaysia.”
In every hotel, shopping mall and airport, Muslim travellers can find prayer rooms with signage pointing to Makkah, said Haji Ketapi.
Air Arabia “will be flying soon from Sharjah International Airport to Kuala Lumpur International Airport to bring more tourists from Arab countries,” he added.
“Arabs can easily learn about Malaysia with just a click of a button,” he said. “If I want to go to Dubai, I can just go on the internet and get information about Dubai. I can easily search for the name and cost of hotels and food.”
Some 30 percent of the population in the Middle East are aged 15-29. As such, Malaysia’s government hopes to attract younger tourists through its Visit Malaysia 2020 tourism campaign, which will include digital marketing, social media, influencers, hosted media and other online platforms.
“These people will cover Malaysia through social media and the internet, and bring the news to their country,” said Haji Ketapi.
“We hope to do more such connectivity to get more … tourists from everywhere to visit Malaysia.”