Why expats should help stamp out 'drunken tourism'

31st August 2004, Comments 0 comments

There is a subtle kind of apartheid between foreigners who live in Spain and those who visit as tourists.

There is a subtle kind of apartheid between foreigners who live in Spain and those who visit as tourists.

People who have chosen to make their lives here are anxious to disassociate themselves from those who come for two-week breaks or – perish the thought –celebrate stag or hen nights in Spanish cities.

These holidaymakers enjoy a drink or two, or three…or four.  And as far as the expat contingent is concerned, their drunken antics let the side down. 

They're an embarrassment.

But this division in attitudes seems a little odd. Surely it was not so long ago that many present-day expats came to Spain on just the same kind of holidays. And maybe they had a few drinks themselves?

Perhaps it was just this kind of booze-fuelled fun, at half the price of the pubs or bars back home, which helped give them the idea to move to Spain in the first place?

Either way, it is odd for expats living in Spain to look askance when yet another group of lads cruises the streets in search of alcoholic oblivion.

Instead, perhaps we should take more responsibility for the problem – and problem it is. 

There are many reasons why a British teenager dies through over-drinking, as happened in Minorca last week. Many are connected with the drinking culture in his or her own country.

But tragedies like this are also connected with the easy availability, cheapness and large measures of alcohol poured in Spanish bars.

It's hard to know how to encourage tourists or visitors to imbibe without the furious rush which is customary in Britain and other northern European countries. *quote1*

Old habits die hard.

But it is in our interest to encourage visitors to go easy on the drinks, rather than ignore them completely and leave them to simply get sozzled.

Why? Because we do not appreciate drunken gangs of men – or women – on the streets of our adopted country.

After all, these people are not simply confined to the ghetto resorts of places like Lloret de Mar in the Costa Brava or Magaluf in Majorca. They are in your city, town or village.

However, the issue will be ultimately decided by the Spanish. For while there is easy cash to be made from selling cheap booze to tourists, why stop?   

There has been many a call for more 'quality tourism' among Spanish tourism chiefs. But will this happen unless the market actually moves that way?

Until the price of alcohol rises, making other destinations such as Turkey a better bet, why should the tourists stay away and stop enjoying a cheap drink?

And perhaps the Spanish have their own concerns with their own young people who drink in 'el bottellon' – the drinking in the streets that has excited so much opposition across Spain.

It's not just the expats and tourists who need to start offering coffee rather than vodka and tonic.

updated March 2005

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Living in Spain

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