Friday, July 07, 2017

The Disgrace Of Alcudia

It's half past midnight. The fire alarm has been let off in one of the three Fedra buildings on the Bellevue complex. Two security guards are some metres away from the building. They don't react. They continue to chat before eventually wandering towards Fedra. Passing them are a few regular tourists. These are arrivals, trudging the distance from reception, the rumble of the suitcase wheels lost within the ring of the alarm and the roars and screams. These are not cries of fear. These are the sounds of the nightly disgrace of Alcudia.

One guard wears the brown shirt of the security firm that has been hired for the so-called festival. The firm is Tasp Seguridad. According to the festival organisers, Finalia Viajes S.L. (C. Girona 34, Igualada, Catalonia), this firm was established in Mallorca in 1968. It is providing twelve "professionals" who offer cover 24/7. The guard with the brown shirt is with another who wears blue: he is Bellevue. The two explain that there are four security guards for the eight blocks that are to the eastern side of the Bellevue entrance road - the Apollo, Ceres, Diana and Fedra blocks. They all house students from the mainland who are there for the "festival", a marketing term (with registered trademark) for a holiday that has become an excuse for total disruption of normal coexistence in this part of Alcudia, an excuse for vandalism, for excessive drinking, for unacceptable behaviour which matches anything that Arenal or Magalluf can offer.

Finalia, in a letter of 15 February this year, said that the festival is in collaboration with teams of teachers and parents associations as part of a celebration of the end of the school course (baccalaureate). There are no teachers on the site and nor are there any parents. Do these parents know what occurs during the "festival"? Would they be so collaborative if they knew, for instance, about cars being damaged, about shops being robbed, about groups of students doing runners from local restaurants, about regular tourists being jostled and pushed aside in the restaurant, about the nightly screaming, mayhem and chaos that lasts from the middle of June until at least the end of the first week of July?

One of the guards says things are not normal. The behaviour is not normal. Nor is the fact that regular tourists, towards the end of the festival, are being allocated to the blocks most adversely affected, namely Fedra and Diana. What perverse form of hotel administration decrees that these tourists, some with families, should be placed amidst this carnage? They have arrived with the fire alarm going off, with students bawling and roaring, with a scene of bedlam. The guards have as good as given up. What were they ever going to have done? Hundreds of students who come on a rotational basis over the duration of the "festival": the four on the shift are no match for these hundreds. They are helpless, useless, and they know it. They are also regretful. They understand that residents and other tourists are being harmed. Things are not normal. They can do nothing. There are no police, no Guardia. They are alone, as are the residents and tourists.

Someone says that the students are paying fifteen euros a night all-inclusive. If so, is Bellevue really that desperate for clients? Perhaps it is. The hotel's acceptance of this festival (the existence of which was denied by a person on reception when tackled by a resident) merely reinforces Bellevue's chronic reputation for lack of care. The festival drags Alcudia's image further through the mud, a negative image which is largely the fault of Bellevue and Bellevue alone. Why, one wonders, does a company like BlueBay, which manages the complex, have anything to do with this "festival"? It is a hotel chain which, otherwise, has a more upmarket profile, especially elsewhere.

With the regional government trying to convince tour operators not to bring drunken (junk) tourism to the island, it should include Finalia on this list. It probably won't, because what happens in Alcudia is of marginal interest, when compared with Magalluf and Arenal. If this were a tour operator bringing British or German youngsters, the world would know about it. Spanish, and there is general silence. Who, among the media, draws any attention to it? 

The Finalia marketing, as revealed by its February letter, is laughable. It talks about presentations made to parents in which explanations are given about Alcudia's "magnificent beaches" and "the precious church of San Jaime (Sant Jaume)". Thousands of parents, it continues, subsequently opt to visit Alcudia as a result of their children's experiences. Of course they do.

This marketing, as shown on the festival website, includes the "collaborative businesses", some of which aren't businesses, such as the Spanish government, the Balearic tourism ministry, the government in Catalonia. Are these administrations willing collaborators in drunken, excessive, junk tourism? Are they giving their blessings to chaos and the breakdown of order? Are they collaborating in the annual disgrace of Alcudia?

* The photo is from the Jolly Roger Facebook page. It shows a whole load of students trooping past the Lago Menor en route to Hidropark. Tourists at the waterpark, it has been reported, have opted to leave because of the "invasion" which regularly occurs.

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