FUERTE’S FIRST TOURISTS
An Article By Bernie Power with The Voice
Our island is now full of tourists, and there are hotels and resorts that cater for all tastes and ages, but it has taken us 40 years to get here!
We were slow starters on the tourism front, due to many political and social reasons. After the war, the people of Europe started to look at taking a holiday and regular people were getting on cruise ships and heading to Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Fuerteventura had the sun and the best beaches, but even by 1960 it was not on any of the holiday lists. The general lack of water and electricity posed its own problems, and the roads were in a really bad state. The airport that is now incorporated into the technology park complex, wasn´t built until 1952 and there were no direct flights. You had to initially fly to Tenerife or Gran Canaria and then take another plane from there to here. The original airstrip was based in Los Estancos and was never even asphalted, and it was the only way to fly here until the new airport was opened in 1969 in El Matorral.
In the 1960´s we had quite a lot of visitors, but the holiday was a very rural affair. Local people often took guests into their homes and many artists arrived, drawn by the peace and quiet and the interesting colours of the dessert landscapes. The original tourists were sun-seekers, surfers, divers, artists and hikers and they mostly went down to Costa Calma and Jandia. Many German companies had contact with the area and built it up as the visitors arrived, however, it is still quite undeveloped and boasts some amazing beaches. Luckily during the building rush, someone decided that it was also important to protect our unique zones and so many national parks were closed off to the constructors. A move which also helped in acquiring Biosphere reserve status recently.
The first hotel for commercial travellers was based just behind the Atlantico commercial centre in Corralejo, and was situated right in between the fisherman’s houses. The hotel is still there, although it has undergone a facelift, but the fisherman’s homes have long gone. Next came the Hoplaco Gardens project (currently being re-developed) which was built on what is now the main street of Corralejo. The street is now called Calle Nuestra Señora del Carmen but until 1971 is was known as Calle Generalisimo Franco and people would travel from the airport and down this road to the hotel, by coach. A little while later another, much bigger hotel began construction, and once the Bristol Playa was completed, bars, other hotels and all sorts of entertainment and businesses followed.
East Coast Entertainment
On the east coast another resort was under construction, deemed to be an alternative to Corralejo and was known by different names; Costa Caleta, El Castillo and Caleta De Fuste. I was told once that the reason it changed its name so regularly was so that people could not remember if they had been there before and would visit once again! Whether that is true of not it is a purpose built holiday resort that now offers hotels, bars, restaurants and all sorts of entertainment, including golf courses, for the tourists to enjoy and is only five minutes from the airport. A Caleta is a small bay or cove and a Fuste is an Arab trading vessel. It is likely that Caleta de Fuste got its name because there was actually a wreck of a Fuste in the bay, over 100 years ago.
So in just over forty years we have blossomed into the Fuerte holiday experience that we all enjoy so much today. Whether you travel north or south or east of west there is something just waiting for every one of all ages to enjoy!