Lanzarote addict Eric made ‘ambassador’ of holiday isle

A Lanzarote devotee from Romford has been given an award by the Canary Islands tourist board for his work in promoting the holiday destination.

Eric Willson, from Ashdown Walk, was made an honorary ambassador of the island during a special awards ceremony in September

But he was only able to pick up his framed certificate when he flew out this month - on his 72nd visit!

He addressed the glittering show in a video message filmed from the Spanish embassy in London.

The former carpet salesman has holidayed at the popular tourist destination three or four times each year for the last 21 years – always staying in the same room at the same hotel.

His story went global, after it appeared in the Recorder last August.

“They said the publicity I brought Lanzarote in a week was more than they normally get in a year and they said they were very grateful.

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“The award was their way of saying thanks.

“I love everything about the island. I normally go on my own, but I’m never alone: the hotel staff treat me like royalty and I know a lot of the ex-pats out here.”

The dad-of-two estimates he’s spent more than �50,000 on his visits, but hasn’t considered buying his own villa out there, because he “likes to be treated like a tourist”.

He added: “I travel a lot during the year but I’m always drawn back to Lanzarote - it’s like my second home.”

Eric says he loves to hit the beach and go on day trips during his visits, but most of all he loves the sun.

“I think I get a bit depressed when it’s gloomy and cold,” he explained, “but it always seems to be hot in Lanzarote. I love it.”

The 66-year-old retiree first fell in love with the volcanic island in 1990, and staff at the Hotel Hesperia Playa Dorada, in Playa Blanca, always reserve his favourite room.

Eric was treated to a special day trip and meal by the tourist board last year, during his 70th visit.