Alex Bramwell is a photographer, writer and community manager specializing in tourism. He is British, although he was born in Gran Canaria, where his family arrived in the 1970s. He currently manages one of the most popular English websites on the island.
Hello Alex, thank you very much for being part of #NuestroGranDestino. Although you collaborate with more projects, your main activity is focused on the web and social profiles associated with the Gran Canaria Info portal, can you tell us a little more about your site?
I have a website on Gran Canaria called Gran Canaria Info. It is the most privately owned private portal on the island and has a Facebook page with 75,000 fans and an Instagram with more than 12,000 followers.
Although you were born in Gran Canaria, you did your studies in the United Kingdom. What made you return to the island?
One rainy February day something inside me told me it was time to return to the sun. I came back to Gran Canaria and met my wife here.
Before we settled down on the island, we wanted to be sure that we had chosen the perfect place. We traveled the world for two years, visited 40 countries on six continents. In the end we realized that Gran Canaria was the place for us.
How did you start working in the tourism industry?
I studied Zoology, but ended up working in translation and as in corporate media. Upon returning to Gran Canaria I joined a good friend (Lex) at Gran Canaria Info and I started working as a community manager for Promotur Turismo de Canarias.
I ended up in tourism because I love to promote the destination and help the tourists to discover it. And, as I am right between the Canarian world and the Anglo-Saxon world, I think it was inevitable that I would end up in the tourist sector
What do you like most about your profession?
What I like the most is the combination between promoting the Canary Islands and being able to help the people who visit us. For me, it is a privilege to be able to contribute every day.
And what is the most difficult part?
The most complicated thing is to look for new ways to show the destination in an original and interesting way.
That is also a great advantage of the job, as it's always fun to look for new things and other angles to show our audience.
Tourism from the United Kingdom is very important for the island. Right now how do British tourists see us? Do you think that the image they have of Gran Canaria has changed a lot in the last years?
I see great loyalty among many of the British who visit Gran Canaria. They usually return year after year and always tell us that it is a magnificent island and that its people are very friendly. The truth is that we hear very few complaints among the thousands of English who read our content and communicate with us.
As for the image of the island, much remains to be done to show Gran Canaria as an interesting destination in its entirety. Many Brits want to disconnect during their vacations and do not get to explore the island. They are so happy being in the sun near the sea that they just take it easy.
But I also know that it is never too late; A few weeks ago we received a message from an English couple who has been visiting Gran Canaria for 20 years every year. And this year, after reading our website, they decided to rent a car and explore the island outside the resorts. They were delighted and will repeat the experience next year. Step by step…
What differentiates British tourists from visitors from other places of origin?
I think that English people are a little shy because many of them speak only one language. We need to encourage them and get out of the resorts for the first time. But once they do, they usually repeat every time they visit Gran Canaria. They need a little more support to encourage them to take the leap and look for new experiences on the island.
In your opinion, what is the main advantage of Gran Canaria as a holiday island? Why are we a Great Destination?
Gran Canaria has several important advantages, apart from the weather and its beaches. It is a big island, with many nooks and crannies and there is always something new to discover. Gran Canaria gets you hooked as soon as start to get to know it.
The fact that most of the island isn't all that well-known among our visitors gives us a great opportunity. It's like having two destinations in one; the sun and sand destination so familiar to tourists, and a new one to promote to new audiences.
What things could we do differently in the tourism sector of Gran Canaria?
The truth is that I think things are done pretty well. Sun and beach tourism will always be a big part of our offer and there is no sensible way to change it. There aren't many other places with a climate and a coast so suited to the model.
The future success will be a matter of looking for small but continuous increases in the traditional model and working the niches that are developing with the changes of fashion that we noticed among the younger generations.
I see that young visitors want to understand and explore the island much more than their parents. They also self-organize more; If there is no service, they go and improvise it online amongst themselves. I'm talking about things like hiking or creating social groups with a special purpose, like learning a skill. Young people value personal contact with local people and deep knowledge of local culture and habits. They want experiences as well as a suntan.
We must take this into account when we look to the future and be open to new models instead of being afraid to lose what we already have. The future is going to be much more diverse and even more interesting than the past. Gran Canaria has always been an open island and must remain that way.
Is there any entrepreneur in the Gran Canaria tourism sector that draws your attention to how you are running your business?
I love people who are looking for original niches and attract new people to the island. For example, I see that the digital nomads sector is growing strongly in Gran Canaria due in large part to the efforts of entrepreneurs such as Nacho Rodríguez, of CoworkingGC.
The nomads who come to Gran Canaria stay longer, spend their money all over the island and look for original experiences. And thus they create demand for an ecosystem of new services; things like learning Spanish, surfing lessons or learning salsa, or yoga, etc.
Do you think the tourism sector is sufficiently valued? Are Gran Canarians aware of its importance?
After traveling the world, I know that the Canary Islands are among the most welcoming and relaxed places anywhere. The attitude of Canarian life is wonderful and that was, more than anything else, what made us return to Gran Canaria to start our family.
But, frankly, I also see a bit of negativity towards tourism. This is perhaps because tourism is developed largely in a bubble away from the daily lives of many people on the island. We have to encourage new opportunities so that Canarians can show their island and their way of life to the people who visit us. I would love to see more local guides offering more personalized tours, instead of the massive tours that dominate the market today.