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Tourism is the most prominent industry in the Canaries, which are one of the major tourist destinations in the world.
In 2005, 9,276,963 tourists (excluding those from other parts of Spain) came to the Canary Islands. Tenerife had 3,442,787 arrivals that year, excluding the numbers for Spanish tourists which make up an additional 30% of total arrivals. According to last year’s Canarian Statistics Centre’s (ISTAC) Report on Tourism the greatest number of tourists from any one country come from the United Kingdom, with more than 1,600,000 tourists in 2005. In second place comes Germany followed by Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Italy, France, Austria, Ireland and Switzerland.
Tourism is more prevalent in the south of the island, which is hotter and drier and has many well developed resorts such as Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos. More recently coastal development has spread northwards from Playa de las Americas and now encompasses the former small enclave of La Caleta. After the Moratoria act passed by the Canarian Parliament in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, no more hotels should be built on the island unless they are classified as 5 star-quality and comprise different services such as Golf Courses or Congress facilities. This act was passed with the goal of improving the standard of tourism service and promoting environmentally conscious development.
The area known as Costa Adeje (Las Américas-Los Cristianos) has many world-class facilities and leisure opportunities besides sea and sand, such as quality shopping centres, golf courses, restaurants, waterparks, animal parks, and a theatre suitable for musicals or a Congress Hall.
In the more lush and green north of the island the main development for tourism has been in the town of Puerto de la Cruz. The town itself has kept some of its old-harbour town charm mixed with northern European influences. Still, the tourist boom in the 1960s changed the outlook of the town, making it cosy and cosmopolitan at the same time, and a favourite for the more mature traveller (notably the German and Spanish tourist).
In the 19th and most of the 20th century large numbers of foreign tourists came, especially British, showing interest in the agriculta of the islands. With the world wars, this sector weakened, but the start of the second half of the century brought new forms of tourism. At first emphasis was on Puerto de la Cruz, for the kindness of the climate, and for all the attractions that the Valle de la Orotava concentrated, but following the attraction of the sun and beaches, around 1980 was born the tourist boom of south Tenerife, where emphasis was on cities like Arona or Adeje, shifting to tourist centres like Los Cristianos o Playa de Las Americas, that today house 65% of the hotels that were on the island. Tenerife receives more than 5,000,000 tourists every year, of the canary islands Tenerife is the most popular.