The origins of tourism in Los Cristianos lie with a Swedish man, Bengt Rylander (known locally as Don Benito), who came to Los Cristianos in 1956 suffering from multiple sclerosis, hoping the warm climate and clean air would help ease his ailments. He convalesced well and spread the word of the mild and sunny climate he had discovered to his friends in Sweden and, since he was formerly a writer and TV commentator, word spread quickly. In 1957 he was joined by several friends who suffered from poliomyelitis and rheumatic diseases.
So the origins of tourism in Los Cristianos during the late 1950s and early 1960s are as a resort for ailing & convalescent Swedes. These unlikely pioneers have left their mark on the town, with the main high-street in Los Cristianos known as “Avenida de Suecia” (Avenue of Sweden) and the “Casa Sueca”, now a Swedish Lutheran Church, located on the seafront.
Tourism was not limited to the Swedes, growing numbers of visitors from other European countries. The 1960s saw the construction of the first large buildings in Los Cristianos to house the growing number of tourists, these included Cristianmar, Rosamar and the four-star Oasis Moreque Hotel. The steady number of disabled Swedish visitors also led to the opening of the Vintersol public rehabilitation clinic in 1965. Some old photos of Los Cristianos in the early days can be seen in the Hotel Princesa Dacil close to the beach. There are many old photos from the late 1960s and early 1970s in construction on display.
Whilst tourist numbers in Los Cristianos grew steadily in the 1960s and 1970s, it was only after the inauguration of the new International Airport in the south of Tenerife (Reina Sofía) in autumn 1978 that tourism really began to boom in the south of the island.
A number of huge hotels and apartment blocks were built during the 1970s to house the growing number of tourists and workers, but it was in the 1980s when the town began to expand massively. As well as holiday makers, Los Cristianos began to attract a number of British expatriates who emigrated either permanently or semi-permanently to escape the cold British winters. As English is as widely spoken as Spanish, there are also a number of British owned bars, restaurants, shops and services aimed predominantly at the tourist sector.