Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bloody Holidays

And now, for those of our viewers who still haven’t decided where to go for their Easter Break…’, began the newsreader on CNN+, the 24 hour news channel, ‘we shall offer some ideas about… blah blah…’.
So now it’s a ‘right’ I suppose. We shall all have hol-ee-days. Tens of millions of cars are reversed out of garages under the apartment blocks by inexperienced drivers and driven merrily off towards the mountains, the parks, the ski-slopes and the playas. A parade? Oh Good-ee, let’s go and have a look.
With the result that a huge number of out-of-town vehicles fill the car-parks and the streets-verges. Sometimes they’ll double-park. Streams of people mill about. The parade – if there is one – is filled with folk taking pictures with their telephones (who the Hell thought of that?). So many people clog up the small event that, understandably, the local people stay at home (either that, or they’ve driven over to some other pueblo to keep the ball rolling).
We have some sort of a fiesta and, bugger me, half of Spain descend upon us. We shall have to watch it on the TV!
The only people who are glad to see the visitors are, inevitably, the shopkeepers, the restaurants and the hoteliers. But the local trade keeps the restaurants going – if they are any good. Tourists aren’t going to worry about the quality (or, if they do, there are plenty more of ‘em!). We local people won’t be sleeping in the hotels or indeed buying rubbish from the knick-knack shops: ever.
So, we have our own fiestas, parades, concerts and exhibitions ruined by huge crowds. The town hall (i.e. – us!) pays for these events which we are obliged to miss and the hotels and shopkeepers continue to pander towards a tourist trade which does little or no good for the residents.
Or do you think Mojácar really needs eight hundred bars?
At the FITUR, the international tourism fair held in Madrid in late January, Mojácar once again had its own stand. It has always had this stand since the FITUR started 16 years ago. It could go in with the ‘Patronato de Turismo de Almería’, but no. The event costs around 60,000 euros and is used to, uh, get tourists. However, the business of ‘getting tourists’ is held outside the fair, in well-appointed offices. These are the tourists which fill the hotels which are scattered along part of the beach.
These tourists provide jobs (to Ecuadorian immigrants). These tourists spend money (uh – inside the hotel). The tourists will be back next year (you think?).
In fact, when the Town Hall suggested this year that the hotels should help pay for the FITUR stand, a whip-round was held by all the hotels, collecting the princely sum of 4,000 euros.
Our town, Mojácar, has a population of about 8,000 – according to the Town Hall’s list – the padrón (which half the British population is determined not to be inscribed on). The town receives funding, licences, permits and publicly-funded repairs more or less according to its official size. In our case, 8,000. In fact, during the summer months, when you can’t park, when you have to queue, when you can’t visit the village, or go to the post-office; when the late-night noise is incessant and where the supermarket runs out of basic necessities; when we rise to 30,000 people, including illegal campers, we are still considered to be just 8,000.
So we return to the main point. Why should we waste our tax money on promoting our pueblo so that, every time something happens, we find we are squeezed out of seeing it?

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