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The British tabloids

From an exceptional anecdote they build a negative story full of generalisations about the "risks" of travelling to Spain. To Benidorm, to the Canaries, Malaga, Barcelona, Mallorca. Spanish columnist Juan Carlos Viloria hits back

Juan Carlos Viloria

Malaga

Friday, 3 May 2024, 11:31

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The campaign by certain sections of the British press in the UK against tourism in Spain is now a classic that comes round at the same time every year, like the cherry blossom in the Jerte valley, the anchovy season in Bermeo or the 'almadraba' tuna fishing in Barbate. It's like an ancestral spring, like a revival of a black legend, an attempt to free ghosts of the past and overcome the contradiction of historical animosity, with the modern passion of 15 million Brits who migrate irremediably, like birds, to our south. They cannot help themselves.

The Mirror says we are cutting off their water in hotels because we are not managing the drought properly, or that we want to rip them off in restaurants, charging them more than Spanish tourists.

Other tabloids, in the wake of protests in Tenerife against unbearable overcrowding and in favour of sustainable tourism, claim they are welcomed in the Canaries with hostility. From an exceptional anecdote they build a negative story full of generalisations about the "risks" of travelling to Spain. To Benidorm, to the Canaries, Malaga, Barcelona, Mallorca. Perhaps they have vested interests in our competitors in Egypt, Turkey or Tunisia and want to divert the convoy of pale faces tired of the wintry weather in the "Perfidious Albion". Although perhaps they are doing us a favour if they manage to divert, not tourism in general, but the beer-filled excursions of hooligans, to other destinations.

They must not be confused with the British figures of literature, of history, who found in our land the atmosphere and warmth to leave us gems of Hispanic research or amusing novels with English humour infused with Andalusian wit. The classic Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart, about his adventures and misfortunes in the Alpujarra of Granada, is a captivating book full of love for the highlands of Granada and Almeria. A costumbrist summer read shattering the myth of life in the countryside.

Although the greatest will always be Gerald Brenan. Now that the British press has also made fun of our national politics, making front page news out of the five-day episode of our prime minister threatening to resign, perhaps it's also convenient to bring up a sociological sentence from the invaluable essay, The Spanish Labyrinth.

Google helped me find the right paragraph (with the help of Pablo García-Mancha, writing years ago in Diario La Rioja), which is still valid today: "Spain abounds in men who believe that they alone can tap the pure and unadulterated source of Spanish traditions and project it upon the future and that everyone who disagrees with them is necessarily perverse and wicked and must be overridden," he wrote. Amen.

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