Friday, August 18, 2017

A Red Carnation For A Tourist

As sure as night follows day, so philia follows phobia. Or should this be the other way round? Yes it should. There was a great deal of philia daylight before phobia darkness set in. And in case anyone had forgotten this, the Magic Costa Blanca hotel chain decided to remind them. On Tuesday, it staged a day of "tourismphilia".

As its name suggests, the chain concentrates on the Costa Blanca - Benidorm, for instance. This is an area of Spain, so the president of the Valencia regional government has been at pains to point out, which hasn't experienced tourismphobia. Ximo Puig, for it is he, has been singled out for praise in making noises different to certain other politicians. There is not one tourist too many in the Valencia region, Ximo has observed. Benidorm is not for phobia. In fact, bring on ever more tourists. There's a lot of all-inclusive awaiting them.

Tuesday, the public holiday for the Assumption, is an emblematic day in the Spanish tourism calendar. Thus explained Magic Costa Blanca's vice-president. It is the absolute height of summer. Around this date, the statisticians in the Balearics will have been poring over figures in preparing themselves to announce the day on which there were more people on the islands than on any other day. The Balearic politicians will hardly be able to contain themselves. How many more were there? Saturation, massification, blah, blah.

In Valencia, on the other hand, they opted - well, Magic Costa Blanca did - to focus on actions to "counteract the stupid campaign" in parts of the country. Javier García, the VP, explained that the hotel chain wanted to tell tourists that Spain wants tourists, that they will be taken care of in their pursuit of happiness. One way that they are able to is at the Middle Ages-themed Magic Robin Hood. Very Spanish, but then Spaniards know him from films.

All staff - from receptionists to waiters, cooks, cleaning staff and management - were handing out red carnations and asking for hugs. It was a way of "sealing friendship" of showing a "special feeling of respect and affection" that tourists always deserve. Friendship: a tourist, a friend as the old motto goes. The red carnation should become a symbol of tourism, García suggested, and good for him. Alcudia holds its tourism day at the end of the month. Will they be handing out red carnations?

In Ibiza, the president of the island's council who is also responsible for tourism, made reference to that old motto the other day. Messages, he said, must be positive. That campaign of friendship can't be forgotten. Vicent Torres added that there isn't tourismphobia in Ibiza. Or at least it hasn't been exhibited, thus contradicting certain elements of the media which suggest that it has been.

Torres added that in order to prevent this phobia, order needs to be created. Ibiza, it has been well reported, has a greater issue with housing than Mallorca. As an island there is only so much capacity. Mallorca is the same, just on a larger scale. The situations are somewhat different in both islands to that of Valencia. The island's president went on to explain that this order should come from a cap on the number of tourist places, and he had illegal holiday rentals firmly in mind. He made an interesting further observation, which was that way back when Gabriel Cañellas (of the Partido Popular) was president of the Balearics there was a move to limit the growth in the number of places. In the all current discussion of limits etc., the left is getting some criticism for wanting limits, when the right - the PP - first established the notion. The PP also referred to this in its 1999 tourism law. Later, when Carlos Delgado was tourism minister, he spoke about the possible need to reduce places.

Just placing limits on tourists won't make the kind of tourismphobia displayed by Arran and their chums disappear. That's because their agenda is much broader and isn't by any means focused only on tourism; they have used tourism for their own political, independence aims. But limits, to me, seem eminently logical. Can there be such a thing as too many tourists? Yes, there can be, and even tourists themselves - as shown from different surveys - think so.

In Valencia they've made a nice gesture. Torres in Ibiza is addressing the issue of tourismphobia in a sensible fashion. But much other reaction has been hysterical, and this includes Madrid. We have the secretary-of-state for tourism (for whom judgement is well and truly being reserved) confirming that the attorney-general is getting involved in pursuing anti-tourism protesters. What do they want to do? Create martyrs? Because that's exactly what the far-left, independence-agitating minor minority craves.

There's something of a summer madness. Keep calm and hand out red carnations.

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