Get to know our philosophy

A vision by Javier González

Who are we?
 The NGO Cultural Surfing – Alternative and Sustainable Tourism in Canary Islands is a non-profit organization with the objective to foster the development of an alternative, social and sustainable touristic model that improves the general living conditions of the local population, and that guarantees respect for nature and the cultural values of the local community. Therefore, we promote the mobilization of social networks through the facilitation of touristic activities and leisure which are accessible to everybody. The main principle is to maximize the benefits of tourism within the Canarian society, encouraging the inclusion of the society in the tourism branch, and supporting activities that improve the employability of the local population. 

Why tourism?
 We believe that the benefits of tourism are not fairly and equally shared, and that the model of mass tourism and golf resorts is far from what the Canarian community needs. To be more precise: The Canary Islands are visited by ten million tourists every year, constantly striking records. And this, ladies and gentlemen, implies a lot of money at stake. The tourism business on the Canary Islands generates about 11.000 million Euros yearly. However, we have the lowest overall unemployment rate in Spain (33%), and an even lower one among adolescents (60%). With these datas you don’t need to be an economical guru to notice that the cake is not fairly distributed. 

Why now?
 I often hear the Canarians say: “That’s how it is” or “It will always be this way”. But although it might have always been this way it doesn’t stop to be inequitable. Right now we, the Canarians, have the means to combat this injustice since we form the best trained and educated society in the history of the Canary Islands. Of course, it is not about getting a swollen head, but simply about being aware of our capability. Right now we are wasting and losing a lot of human capacity because young people prefer to emigrate in order to make something useful with their lives. And who else is able to make a change but us with our academic titles and university careers? We have the responsibility to at least attempt to change the condition.

Are we really going to change the world?
 Mass tourism will persist on the Canary Islands, and the big foreign investors will also continue to get the big shares from our resources. A small NGO, as we are, cannot expect to change the strong reality. Nevertheless, we can change opinions and perspectives; we can raise awareness among the population that there are alternatives and that those can work. In doing so we start to create or own way, which is a more sustainable and equitable one.

Why social?
 Everybody wants to participate in fun activities. However, the prices of those activities are excessively high. 20 Euros to hike a canyon? Maybe this seems cheap to a Norwegian who makes this in an hour, but on the Canary Islands we earn 3-4€ per hour, which is why this activity is far too expensive for many Canarians. Since 60% of the young people don’t have a job at all, we can speak of discrimination in this case. Everybody should have the right and the possibility to know his/her island! Besides, regarding the high prices of the activities, I reckon that students from abroad, who live on a scholarship or a part time job, will have a hard time to afford them, as well. Exactly this makes the tourism on Canary Islands only available for financial elites.

Why sustainable tourism?
Many people think that sustainable tourism is about not to step on little saplings or not to through away garbage. And this is somehow true, however, sustainability integrates a broader concept. Since I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, I’ll just give you the definition made by the World Tourism Organization:

“Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”.

This definition reveals that the tourism which is sold on the Canary Islands is far from being sustainable. Making a tour through the touristic zones in the south of Tenerife, you’ll even think you’re in another country. And this is exactly what we want to change. We want our culture to persist, to show proudly what is ours and at the same time learn about what we have and where we come from. On one hand, we don’t want tourism to remain exclusively in the hands of foreign investors with their all-inclusive hotels. We want it to reach local businesses. On the other, we don’t want to be overstuffed with supermarkets, and neither forget our roots. That is why we fight for being who we are and being able to benefit from the resources we have.

Who can participate?
Everybody! Under the condition to behave respectfully with other participants, the members of the NGO, her objectives and of course… to respect our laws. If you like the idea and if you want to participate don’t hesitate to contact us.

What kind of activities can be realized?
The principles of the NGO have to be reflected in every activity we undertake. The idea is that basically everybody can offer or demand every type of activity, assuming that this activity agrees with the following premisses:

  1. That the benefit has a positive effect on the local population.
  1. That it respects the environment or that it at least does not have a negative impact on the environment; and that it is sustainable.
  1. That it reflects, protects or develops the culture of the local population.

In case that the activity offered has an economic nature, it will be adapted to the effective legislation.

Why is it fro free?
All our activities are for free. We don’t want to create relationships as providers and clients but relationships at eye level. Because this is the condition which makes people really offer what they have. The product does not adjust to the tourists’ demands, which does not mean that our offer is of less quality. It simply is not directed to money, but to enjoyment and delight of the cause. And what do we get out of it? Well, for one thing we align tourism with the local needs. And, we also aspire to learn from you. So, if you have any capacity or knowledge you can contribute to our NGO, you are very welcome to share it with us. Instead of conventional payment we aspire to establish a micro countertrade economy.

How does the NGO finance activities?
Some of the activities we offer might have costs, such as transport or insurance. However, we try to keep them as low as possible so that really everybody can participate. Afterwards, if you consider the activity as enriching and well done, and if you spare some money, you are welcome to donate whatever you think is suitable. Donations will help the NGO to grow, to improve it’s impact, and to make it sustainable. This is why we are happy about every donation we can get but it is, of course, no requirement.

What are we going to do with donations?
 As a nonprofit organization we cannot distribute the money we gain between our partners. Every cent of the donation will be used to support the objectives of the NGO: we are going to invest the money in the diffusion of our idea, to buy better materials, to improve the implementation of activities and to establish classes as well as helpful contacts. Everybody can have insights to our bank account and see what happened to his or her money.

Do you want to lern more?
Do you still have questions or want to get to know us better? Dont’t hesitate and contact us