Anyone who has ever lived in a tourist resort will admit to a kind of snobbery. You will frequently hear, “That’s just for the tourists”, or bl**dy tourists (this, usually when driving) or some such.
I come from a tourist resort in England, Blackpool, but you wouldn’t believe how many people said, “Where? Tenerife?” with wrinkled noses when we said that we were immigrating to the islands. I had an easy reply, “So, the worst it can be is Blackpool with 360 days of sunshine per year???” That kind of shut them up. Most of them would die for the sort of tan I now consider normal anyway.
The thing with English tourist resorts was that the season was limited. In the days before hen and stag weekends, the months between September and July were “dead”. OK, Blackpool has a longer season than most because of the Illuminations but that used to bring business mainly on the weekends. The Winter months were blissfully peaceful, Blackpool landladies took off for warmer shores until at least Christmas, walking on the “Prom” was a pleasure (so long as you could stand upright against the gales), and you could always find somewhere to park. We knew that passing strangers were “one of us”, and there was a sense of community. Near the beginning of a new season you could definitely feel something in the air. When you went into town you had to walk around ladders, paintbrushes, cabling and the other paraphenalia essential for renovationing and decorating. Everywhere was being spruced up ready for the Summer onslaught. Easter was a kind of trial run, and then the work really began.
Once the Season began you avoided the town center or Promenade if you could. The last thing you wanted to be was mistaken for one of those nasty tourists shivering in the shorts they had to wear because it was August, even if there was a stiff nor’wester blowing! And as for those Sunday drivers, or finding somewhere to park – forget it!
I was reminded of this today twice. First, there was a very confused tourist holding up traffic. Now, because of my background I’ve been used to that from the beginning of being here. Hated it on my home turf, but here I kind of feel sorry for them, afterall, they are driving on the “wrong” side of the road if they are Brits, with roadsigns they don’t understand, as well as being in a strange place. So the taxi driving up his “backside” was just being a pain, and wasn’t helping anyone.
Secondly, I brought a lot of that being dismissive of tourists her with me when I immigrated. For years I have actively avoided the principal tourist resort Playa de las Americas. In the beginning it was unavoidable, being the only place to find certain shops and offices, but progress, growth and prosperity have brought services and facilities to almost every town and village now, and Playa de las Americas is just a tourist resort.
In my mind it was rather tatty and very down market, so I was really surprised today, when I had to go there, to find it all prettified and smart. A huge chunk of the middle of the town has been semi-pedestrianized, trees and shrubs have been planted, shop fronts smartened up, benches have been dotted around. Cafés and bars which used to have bog-standard plastic tables and chairs now boast tropical-style rattan and wood. The potholes have been mended, and in general everything sparkled. I have to say that now I wouldn’t at all object to taking guests there, so long as they accept it for what it is – a purpose-built holiday town.
Sometimes that’s what you need or want, I guess, sunshine, sea and somewhere pleasant to sit and chill. I’m not sure just how much one could chill in high season, but this morning it was very pleasant, and I could, actually, appreciate the attraction it might hold for some. It would be a million miles from my first choice of somewhere to vacation, but I don’t feel as if I have to be ashamed of it so much any more.