Brussels 29.10.2021 Getting so much attention from the media is new for the small island Santa Cruz de La Palma, however the volcanic eruptions are familiar. There have been three in the last 70 years: in 1949, 1971 and in 2021. Such information is shared with participants in the new volcano tours taking place in the south of the island. These tours have sprung up since the eruptions this September.
Isla Bonita Tours and Getholiday were the first companies to offer them to public, looking for a dramatic scenery. Now, other tour operators are following suit. In fact, so many tourists are interested in visiting the area of volcanic activity, known as the “Cumbre Vieja,” that tour operators are even helping one another.
As soon as the plane from Madrid lands in Santa Cruz de La Palma — the largest city on the Spanish Canary island of La Palma — passengers eagerly grip their cellphone cameras, hoping to capture images of smoke and lava. On this particular October day, the pilot has disappointing news.
“Today the wind is coming from the other direction,” he explains to the passengers.
La Palma, a popular tourism destination, has been the site of devastating volcanic eruptions which began in September. A few days ago, ash was still raining down on the island, causing the airport to partially close. Anyone interested in visiting the volcano was required to wear protective goggles and headgear to prevent eye damage. On some days it was even necessary to wear gas masks.
Such apocalyptic images are damaging to La Palma, which relies heavily on tourism revenue. The lush green volcanic island, roughly the size of the city of Hamburg, is desperately trying to salvage the winter tourism season, typically dominated by wealthy German tourists.
Lava from the volcano Cumbre Vieja has destroyed over 2000 buildings and more than 7000 people have had to evacuate their homes.