The family business and tourism

Article in CajaSiete Blog, 17 January 2017

Leopoldo Cólogan

Playa de El Duque, in the south of Tenerifee

Sometimes we do not realise the obvious, even when it is right in front of our eyes. I realised this, one Saturday morning, while I was sportworking. I am aware of the fact that in a family business it is so important to organise heritage management and business activity, to draw up family protocols for the proper succession and generational handover on how to manage the family itself and for the latter there has long been a specialised profession such as the figure of the “family trainer”, which is termed the “school of parents” in psychology.

“To value and live the present and make long-term decisions, it is necessary to acknowledge and analyse the past, including in the long term.”

In the same sense, we can say that it is not possible to create a complete economic analysis of the reality of a family business or of a specific economic sector without knowing and taking account of its history, since it loses perspective, experiences are lost, both positive and negative, and the origin of things are forgotten due to the temporal and generational distance.

To value and live the present and make long-term decisions, it is necessary to acknowledge and analyse the past, including in the long term – not only on the part of those who lead but of those who need to understand those decisions. For example, members of a family business should be aware that the heritage of today exists thanks to past business activity and should not underestimate such activity because of the fact it does not generate what it generated before due to economic circumstances, without prejudice to the reaching of corresponding decisions in each case.

This leads me to highlight the recently published essay by the researcher Nicolás González Lemus, specialised in British tourism in the Canary Islands during the nineteenth century, entitled “El hotel Marquesa, La Paz y los Cólogan en el turismo” [“The Marquesa Hotel, La Paz and the Cólogans in tourism”].

This essay reflects the origin of tourism on the island of Tenerife through the economic evolution of a family business and places it in Puerto de la Cruz where there was a general interest for this activity, with the initiative presented in May 1865 requesting authorisation from the Ministry of the Interior and Public Works of the Government of Her Majesty Queen Isabel II for the construction of a hotel in La Paz, with the intention of accommodating foreigners who, due to illness or pleasure, visited us during the winter or summer.

The aforementioned essay shows how absolutely necessary it is that one should take into account the history of tourism itself and the fact that history is not independent of the economy in order to create a complete economic analysis and to make future decisions in the tourism sector.

It touches on topics such as medical tourism and the relevant role played by the medical world in the origin of tourism in Tenerife, including by Alonso Perdigón and Manuel Pestano from La Orotava, Tomás Zerolo from Lanzarote and Victor Pérez from La Palma, as well as the importance given to it by British tourism.

As this is a relevant element that still exists today, it seems obvious that it should be taken into account in any analysis of the tourism sector that the world of medicine has been key to tourism development.

Another very current topic that forms part of the origin of tourism in Tenerife is the decision made in 1883 to dedicate more than thirty houses in Puerto de la Cruz to tourism. That is to say, in view of the insufficient hotel structure for the demand that existed, those hotels coexisted with the tourist utilisation of houses, and all of these were regulated by the Royal Order of November 27 1858 pertaining to hotels, inns, lodges and guesthouses that were established in any Spanish population.

The above highlights two issues: one, the activity developed with the holiday homes regulated by decree 113/2015 dated May 22, which approves regulation for the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, is not new, only the communication platforms have changed which currently represent a business opportunity for many; and two, the need for family businesses to evolve and adapt to the economic and social context of the moment in order to sustain themselves over time.

It is also important to remember the significance of the effort of many hotel owners such as Luis Díaz and Bernhard Schuchardt in maintaining quality in the development of the tourism sector, as well as what was involved in the decision to offer a quality menu in hotels so that customers choose from a high-quality offering, a buffet, which was more competitive and at the same time meant betting on mass tourism.

All this leads us to perceive certain decisions, which are not always understood, in a different way, to bet on quality tourism and to value how important it is to have hotels like the ones we have today that generate many jobs. It should lead us to properly manage the balance between various activities that affect the tourism sector, giving them the importance they deserve.