The Visitor Centre at the Roque de los Muchachos and the Starmus Festival: two gateways to the Universe and to the recovery of La Palma

Representatives of the governments of Spain and of the Canaries, of the Cabildo of La Palma, the Town Council of Garafía, and of the IAC during the inauguration of the Visitor Centre for the Roque de los Muchachos: Credit: The Cabildo of La Palma
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The Cabildo of La Palma, the Town Council of Garafía, and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) yesterday inaugurated the Visitor Centre at the Roque de los Muchachos. Present at the ceremony were the Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto, and the President of the Government of the Canaries, Angel Victor Torres, among other personalities. During the first months of tests, the Visitor Centre can be visited by the population of the Island, and by tourists free of charge, so that they can enjoy and get to know at close quarters the working of this centre specialising in the scientific outreach explaining the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory. The Centre will also be a key player in the recovery of La Palma after the eruption of the volcano. During the inauguration the celebration of a special edition of the Starmus Festival was announced for 2022.

In the ceremony to initiate this important tourist installation were present the Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto, the President of the Canary Government, Angel Victor Torres, the President of the Cabildo Insular of La Palma, Mariano Zapata, the Island Councilor for Tourism, Raúl Camacho, the Delegate of the Government in the Canaries, Anselmo Pestana, the region councilor for Tourism, Yaiza Castilla, the councilor for Agriculture of the Canary Government, Alicia Vanoostende, the Deputy.mayor of Garafía, Glemis Rodríguez, the Director of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Rafael Rebolo, the Councilor for Culture of the Cabildo, Jovita Monterrey, the Councilor for Innovation and New Technologies, Gonzalo Pascual, the official responsible on the Island for Agriculture, animal husbandry, and Fishing Manuel González, the Administrator of the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, (ORM) Juan Carlos Pérez Arencibia, and the Director of the Gran Telescopio de Canarias, Romano Corradi.

The Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto was sure that opening the Visitor Centre for the Roque de los Muchachos is “an excelent way to help revitalize the island”. She reminded her audience that the Spanish Government, with the help of the other administrations “will make every effort to continue to accompany the families affected by the volcano, and in the work needed to reconstruct the Island” With this in mind the minister announced the putting into action of “La Palma Born Again” a project of dynamization which will bring into play 27 million euros “so that the island can recover its vitality”.

The President of the Canary Government, Ángel Victor Torres, stated  that “today’s ceremony will inspire hope and confidence in the recovery and the relaunching of the economy in the Island”, and added “La Palma will re-emerge and will experience important economic growth which should produce more and better employment, as well as a genuine impulse for the Island and for the people affected by the eruption”. The President also said that tomorrow the first agreements in the Extraordinary Plan for Emplyment and Training for La Palma would be signed, with a budget of 63 million euros.

Inauguración Centro Visitantes Roque
Moment of the inagural visit to the Visitor Centre of the Roque de los Muchachos, Credit: The Cabildo of La Palma

The President of the Cabildo of La Palma, Mariano Zapato, stressed “The work done by the Cabildo, the Town Council of Garafía, and the IAC during the past five years, work which has at last borne fruit, allows us to open the doors of this tourist centre, on which some 6 million euros from FDCAN,  have been spent on the building and its contents, and that is is a key player in the recovery of La Palma after the eruption of the volcano. We are sure that setting it on its way will be a support, and will help us to continue to promote ourselves and to boost our position as a destination specialising in Astrotourism, a combination of science and its popularization”.

Also the Deputy-Mayor of Garafía, Glemis Rodríguez, noted that “Today is a great day for our municipality, for the Island and for the Canaries” and insisted “ I hope that everyone who passes through here will be able to value the effort which has gone into opening this visitor centre. We needed a centre of this sort in the most visited spot on La Palma, an infrastructure which, as well as tourism, will generate work and economic activity.

The Director of the IAC, Rafael Rebolo gave his view that “We want to make this Visitor Centre for the Roque de los Muchachos a Gateway to the stars, the the Universe, and to science for all the citizens of La Palma, and for everyone who comes to the island”. He went on to say that “A centre such as this gives to its visitors a new perspective on what surrounds us, and the opportunity to discover new horizons” he expressed his wish that the centre “Will bring sustainable tourism, and that it will contribute to the relaunching of the economy of the Island”.

The Deputy Director of the IAC, Casiana Muñóz Tuñón thanked the authorities for their mayor efforts to start the Centre operating, and was sure than "The IAC will contribute everything within its power to favour the recovery of the Island”. She went on to state that “From the IAC, and in collaboration with the institutions which have scientific installations on the Roque, se will work to keep the contents of the Visitor Centre up to date, and we will renew them so that it always keeps up with developments, and is attractive, so that it will not only be a space for scientific recreation but also an educational tool.”

The Starmus 2022 Festival in La Palma

In the context of the inauguration of the Visitor Centre for the Roque de los Muchachos, the Minister of Tourism and the President of the Government of the Canaries also announced the celebration of a special edition of the Starmus Festival on La Palma in 2022. The Minister stated that “The celebration on La Palma of a Festival which is first class in world terms such as Starmus will help to show the world the exceptional conditions and the natural beauty of the island."

Torres also stated that “It will be an event which will also add to our efforts, in which we will fight until the last minute, to obtain the TMT in La Palma. It is a sum of happenings and events so that the world can get to know the island even better”. The President also reminded us that some years ago the Canaries did welcome “this top level event” and that some months before the eruption of the volcano the plans to take the Festival to La Palma already existed.

The Director of the IAC stressed that “The Institute will collaborate with the Starmus oranization and with the authorities of the various administrations so that this festival, with its extraordinary character, can be held on La Palma and is at the top level in the world”. Rebolo also expressed his wish that “the unión of science, art and culture places the island at the focus of attention of many million people as a place with magnificent beauty, and with unique capacities and potential in the world”

Finally the President of the Cabildo reminded us that “When the Institutions work together with a common objective it is the citizen who benefits, and the proof of that is this opening of the Visitor Centre for the Roque de los Muchachos. Finally, after years of promises and proyects today it is a reality."

The Visitor Centre can be visited free of charge during this initial starting period, from Monday to Sunday from 10.00 h to 16.00 h.

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