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Updated: 21-07-2010

The Right Time for Business in Tenerife

Its no good being in the right place at the wrong time, but that’s just what happens to many new business owners in Tenerife. You might be used to the world around you operating at certain times, but when you do business in Tenerife, you’ll need to adjust your watch!


Most office hours in Tenerife are traditionally from 8.30 am until about 1.30 pm or 2 pm. They close for a long lunch in the ‘mediodia’ and then re-open at 4.30 pm or 5.00 pm until about 8.00 or 9.00 pm in the evening. During July and August, when many people are on holiday, the second shift on Friday might be abandoned.


Generally speaking, it tends to be the family businesses that close for the mediodia. This type of business makes up the bulk of the Spanish economy.


Not all offices work traditionally. Spain has been moving away from the siesta to join the rest of Europe in a more 9.00 am – 5.00 pm routine. International companies and the more modern family businesses tend to adopt this pattern.
The only reliable way to find out when any individual company works is to ask them!


Banks and Government Offices generally are open to the public and customers between 8.30 am or 9.00 am until 2.00 pm, Monday to Friday. Some bank branches open on Saturdays, but during the Summer months, they all only operate between Monday and Friday. Some Government departments may also have different hours for attending the public.


Shops work on yet another timescale. Larger shops tend to open from about 9.00 or 10.00 am until 9.00 pm, without closing for lunch. Smaller, family run shops will often close for the afternoon at about 1.00 or 2.00 pm, re-opening again at 4.00 or 5.00 pm. Shops in tourist resorts tend to open as long as they possibly can to boost their sales, so they will operate on their own schedule.


Another factor that can get in the way of finding the right time to do business in Tenerife is the public holiday. Spain has more of these than any other country and they can be national (when almost everyone is closed), regional (when just Tenerife or the Canary Islands are celebrating a holiday) or local, which means just a municipality has a day off.


So if you are aiming to do some business in Santa Cruz and you are based in the South, it is as well to check that you have not chosen a day when the city is on holiday!


As far as the general calendar goes, if you are hoping to schedule appointments then there are some times of the year when it can be difficult. Most people in Tenerife have 30 days holiday a year, and it is traditional to take this in one block over the summer. During July and particularly August, many companies run on skeleton staff. Some shut up altogether.


Easter week is always difficult to schedule a meeting, as is Christmas. And when any of the local or regional holidays pop up, you can rely on the person you want to see to be unavailable because they have taken a ‘puente’. A ‘puente’ is a day off taken between public holidays and the week end, giving the employee a few days of holiday instead of just an isolated day off.


And assuming you do find a day when your meeting can be scheduled, also bear in mind that Spain is one of the least punctual nations of Europe. And Tenerife is probably one of its least punctual areas! Although you should always be punctual yourself, don’t be surprised if you are waiting for half an hour.


But if all this scheduling around everyone else’s hours leaves you with a feeling of jet lag and frustration, you can at least console yourself in one way. No matter what time, day or night, you can always find a bar to serve you a drink to drown your sorrows!

By Irina Saltmarsh

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