Tourism and the left

Waiters on the Costa del Sol lack that epic label afforded to the miners of Asturias or the textile workers of Catalonia, or the poor country folk proletarianised in the factories of Madrid, the blast furnaces of Vizcaya or the Galician shipyards.

When the classic political left built the cultural symbols it has carried with it to this day, hotel cleaners didn't form part of any of their archetypal collectives and the tourism industry didn't exist as such. The closest thing to what today is the economic sector that makes this province work was merely an eccentric pastime of a few romantic travellers with no financial hardships.

When the emotional guidelines that seem to still steer the political left were created, it signed up to the theory that the power that would transform the world was the industrial workforce.

But the world has not followed the course that was expected in those days, the changes went in a different direction and now the majority of the world's industry has moved to China, with the results we all are aware of today.

It would be absurd to reproach the theorists and activists from a century ago for not being able to foresee that tourism, which then did not exist, would become one of the main economic sectors in the world and the means of survival for millions of people in all corners of the planet.

However since then the most orthodox left wing has had plenty of time to understand what tourism is, but it sometimes feels like they haven't been able, or known how, to grasp that yet.

The statements made by the Employment minister last week, considering the season closed until the end of the year, without a hint of understanding of the real extent of the drama that she was announcing, could be explained, in an attempt to find an explanation, by that historical, and at this stage unacceptable, cultural incomprehension.

A long time ago now tourism stopped being entertainment for a privileged few and became the bread and butter for many. It ought to be taken more seriously.