Here’s a piece that caught my eye (from the local daily newspaper): ‘The Comarca of Andarax has enough natural resources - scenic, cultural, economic, agricultural and gastronomic - to exploit a model to attract new tourists…’
A touch inelegant the text, perhaps, but it was the best that me and the Spellcheck device could do between us at a moment’s notice.
Tourism is the answer to all of our ills. A quick morning presentation, a chat with the local minister or councillor, a glass of ‘vino español’ and a tapa or two from the local ‘School of Gastronomy’ and all is suddenly well. We shall create jobs and be wealthy. The tourists are coming.
Spain has a touching belief in its own skill in attracting tourists, after all, it’s the world’s second-most visited country. No, hold on, fourth.
Let’s say that there are two sorts of tourists. Those on a short holiday to the beach, here in Spain (because it was cheap… or because the neighbours came last year and liked it… or because of the sun and the beach and the… no. I’m kidding: it’s because it was cheap), and those who are here for a longer period, perhaps with their own car, who perhaps even live here.
The first group are here for a brief time, to have fun. They may be customers of a tour-operator, flown and bussed in to some hotel in some – and who cares which – resort and they will be glad to be away from their desks, or their machines, or their shovels. Their contact with ‘gastronomy’ (as the Spanish like to call it when using what they fondly imagine is English) is no more than the odd meal outside their hotel and a non-fatal exposure to the catering service within.
If those visitors wanted ‘culture’, they wouldn’t be staying on the coast of some random tourist region: they’d have flown to Granada, or Seville, or Cordoba, or Madrid or Valencia. Barcelona even; but not, I think, the region of the Comarca of Andarax. ‘Two weeks on the beach, with paella, beer, girls and… Oh… within striking distance of the Comarca of Andarax’, said Mr Jones to the nice lady at the desk…
The main village in the Andarax is the agreeably pleasant mouthful of Canjáyar. The Junta de Andalucía, of course, won’t let anyone build in this village of 1500 inhabitants (falling every decade since 1901) so attracting full-year ‘residential tourism’ is out. In short, it’s down to the trippers. However, I really don’t think that it will be easy to tear away the visitors to our fine hotels along the playa to persuade them to come along and visit or even to buy its local wine or olive oil.
Perhaps the national tourist industry will be intrigued. They come from the cities for long weekends, and have a whole month off in August. Maybe they would want to drive up to the hills of the lower Almerian Alpujarra to have a warm day’s visit (up to 45ºC in the summer) and a bowl or two of lamb and chips with some local wine (they bottle a good one in Laujár, another pretty village in the area - see photo above).
I am sure that the initiative to attract tourism, and therefore money to the Comarca of Andarax is a good one. The ‘turismo rural’ hostals in the hills up there will be full. Tens of people will be visiting during the summer months.
Meanwhile, along the coasts of Spain, tens of millions of visitors will be slowly turning pink under the omnipresent sun. The buses will be turning on their diesel engines and the hotels will be unpacking their frozen dinners.
Another day, another dollar.