The recent holiday taken by David Cameron and his family on Lanzarote is considered to have given the eastern most Canary island the equivalent of 1.2 million Euros worth of promotional coverage. This is not the first time that Lanzarote has been chosen as the vacation destination of a governing first minister, although in the past it was usually Mr Zapatero, the then Spanish prime minister who decided to visit the island.
Mr Cameron’s stay with his wife and children has been estimated by British public relations firms Lotus PR and Clipping Durrants to have generated 1, 216, 249 Euros worth of positive PR for Lanzarote. The week long holiday was covered by all the leading British newspapers, including the Times, the Guardian, the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph amongst others.
In the run up to the Easter period, the British family were spotted all over the island, enjoying tapas at a beach side bar, learning to surf and generally doing many of the things that other holidaymakers do during their stay. They eschewed accommodation in one of the major tourist resorts, probably more for reasons of security than anything else, although the rural location they were billeted in may well have been more in keeping with the prime minister’s penchant for ‘chillaxing’.
Visits by public figures and celebrities are a well-used method for generating publicity about specific destinations and arguably will do more for popularizing a particular place than location shoots and movie production can. The choice to shoot part of ‘Broken Embraces’ – Pedro Almodovar’s tragic love story starring Penelope Cruz – on Lanzarote certainly didn’t seem to have the same effect on tourism as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin did for Cephalonia in Greece, perhaps because it was a Spanish film rather than an English one.
The truth is that Lanzarote has had several famous visitors during the last century, with actors such as Omar Sharif and Rita Hayworth amongst the most well-known. And coming up later this year, Chris Hemsworth, the latest Hollywood heartthrob and recent star of Thor, will be one of the stars of a new movie to be shot on Lanzarote and La Gomera entitled ‘In the Heart of the Sea.’
Whether this film will engender further valuable PR for the island will depend in large part how much of it is recognisable to the average audience and how attractive it appears to be. After all, nobody remembers much about the backdrop to Raquel Welch´s bikini clad emergence from the sea and that was shot at one of the island´s most unusual tourist attractions.