A couple of weeks ago, a short news item caught my attention. A Benidorm-bound British stag do was expelled from a Ryanair flight Manchester-Alacant after the stag do members, British nationals of course, made one of the flight attendants cry. The stag do’s version: «We had a bite to eat and a beer and got on the plane. No one was drunk, we weren’t wearing stag t-shirts or being loud or offensive. We took our seats and were talking in groups as you do». Translation: «We were drunk as fuck at 5pm on a Thursday afternoon, got on a flight, bellowed across the aisles and threw around some offensive comments we’ll brush off as ‘banter’. In the end, our shit attitude made it impossible for someone to do his job to the point we made him cry and the police escorted us out of the aircraft».
A couple of weeks ago, yet another short news item caught my attention. Saloufest, a festival marketed exclusively towards British students who come to Spain for two weeks to get off their tits and misbehave, has been cancelled by the town of Salou. The incidents include the vandalising of a whole football stadium, people jumping off their hotel rooms, and of course public indecency and urinating on the streets. Not even the five million euros this festival generates for the Catalan town are enough of a pay-off for putting up with 9,000 British youths and the strain that it puts on residents, who feel they are under curfew, local emergency services and the mossos d’esquadra (Catalan police).
These are two examples of the past month, but there have been many more since Northern European mass tourism started digging its fangs into the Mediterranean jugular. This is a pattern of behaviour that repeats itself – British people jetting off to sunny places and behaving like animals, ignoring the social contract and quite literally pissing on those who welcome them. It doesn’t matter if it is Benidorm, Salou, Malia, Ayia Napa or Magalluf. Sunny places are interchangeable: the stag do could have chosen Ayia Napa, Saloufest could very well be called Algarvefest. Lately, Prague and Amsterdam have been added to the unfortunate list, because they are a bit more “classy”. Little do British people know that what makes them “classy” is the lack of ASBO-worthy British tourists in the first place. Whatever the place, the disregard for it is blatant. There is no interest in the local culture or history, all that matters is cheap alcohol and loads of sunshine. A €1 shot is the focal selling point to this tourism that advertises places with thousands of years of history as nothing more than a backdrop for a drunken memory, as if people didn’t actually live in those places. The bench that you break, the corner where you piss, the café where you do a runner: those are places and things paid for by locals, that locals use, and where locals make a living. The building with a couple of holiday rental flats that Bobby used for his lads’ stag do in Barcelona is also a building where another 15 families can’t go to sleep at night because Bobby’s mates are having a party on a Wednesday night. Next week, it’ll be Jimmy’s mates. Rinse and repeat.
I am not going to lie. Every time a British acquaintance of mine goes on a lads/girls’ holiday to one of these “party” destinations with their friends, my opinion of them drops, because I know exactly what they will get up to. I have seen it with my own eyes, in my hometown. Valencia, a town that was founded by the Romans and still has 2,000-year old buildings, has turned into a playground for Billy from Nuneaton, who thinks it’s totes hilarious to run around with a onesie on that says “Gary Glitter”, knocking back cheap drinks and being disrespectful to the waitress because she dares not speak English. Then taking a taxi and yelling at the taxi driver because he, neither, understands Billy’s garbled pronunciation of his holiday rental’s address. Once he is back in the flat, he will smear his own faeces on the bathroom’s walls for the cleaner to scrub off (this happened to my aunt). Billy will go back home, but the waitress and the taxi driver and my aunt will have to tend to other Billies for years to come.
This has been fuelled, of course, by our own tourist industry. The people who own it do not have to deal with that sort of behaviour. They live in fantastic gated communities and buildings where they make sure there is not one holiday rental flat. Sun-and-sea tourism is great at first. The money comes in cheap and fast; you can cram five teenagers in a room in Ayia Napa where a Greek family would refuse to stay and milk them for money. It is a great way to boost the economy in countries asphyxiated during decades of dictatorships and poverty. But in the end the price has been too high and it is time we put our foot down. We have become spectators to the degradation of our towns at the hand of people who have been sold holidays with the word “unaccountability” practically printed on the airplane ticket. Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic basically feels like a theme park already, not to mention the whole of Salou or Lloret.
It is blatantly clear that the Billies of Britain are not going to learn to behave any time soon, as this is the behaviour they also get up to in their own country. Student events like “Carnage” in Manchester have an ambulance following them all night. But that doesn’t mean we have to put up with it. Fuck being British people’s playground anymore, to be honest. Fuck it to hell and back.
Homepage image source: Salou demana als organitzadors del Saloufest que deixen d’utilitzar el nom de la ciutat.
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