Lanzarote’s popularity as a destination for sports enthusiasts has already been documented in the recent past, but a new study of tourist statistics has revealed that diving now attracts over 100,000 visitors to the island a year as well. In 2013, 103,282 people went diving in the waters around the island, the majority of whom came from the UK.
35.3% of all those who practiced diving during their holiday on the island were British, with a further 16.2% of German nationality. Spanish nationals accounted for 19% of the remaining 49%, with smaller percentages of divers hailing from Ireland and Holland (6.5% and 6% respectively).
During the year, the three months of July, August and September were the months when most diving took place, a reflection of not only the normal Summer holiday period but also when the sea’s temperature is sufficiently higher and therefore more pleasant to dive in. Nearly 40% of all the diving that took place during the year fell in this trimester.
The average age of most divers was around 40 years old, although those aged between 26 and 35 years also made up a large quantity of tourist divers (28%). When asked why they had chosen Lanzarote to practice this activity, most responded that it was either through having previously visited the island or on the recommendation of friends and family.
Diving is now a far more widely practised holiday past-time, having been popularised over the last forty years as a fascinating way of exploring the underwater world, thanks to countless documentaries and the work of divers such as Jacques Cousteau. The waters surrounding each of the Canary Islands are renowned for their pristine state, the varied aquatic wildlife that can be seen in its natural habitat and various interesting geological formations, a result of their volcanic past.
This richness and relatively unspoilt natural environment is one of the reasons why there is such concern about possible degradation from the proposed oil prospecting, due to take place off the eastern most islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Local environmental groups are understandably concerned that any spills will have a detrimental effect on local wildlife, which in turn will affect tourism, for both divers and more generally holidaymakers who are drawn to the beautiful beaches each island possesses.
At present, the diving community works in tandem with local environmental agencies, pursuing their activities underwater in a responsible fashion and encouraging visitors to respect the delicate eco-system that exists underwater. Across the islands, there are already 84 registered dive centres, 25 of which are located on Lanzarote.