Thursday, August 06, 2015

Tourism; Start-ups; Famous Catalans?; Early Tiffintown; iPhones; Publicity; & Sleeping on planes.

Tourism is vitally important to the Spanish economy. And it's one of the engines of the current GDP growth of 3%pa or more. But it'd be fair to say there's been a concentration for decades on the cheap-and-cheerful end of the spectrum. So much so that certain towns and islands have become synonymous with debauchery. Enough is enough, some of these are now saying, as they crack down on the outrageous behaviour of tourists, imposing fines and limits on the selling of alcohol. But Lloret de Mar is the first resort to go so far as to threaten louts they'll be kicked out of their hotels for bad behaviour, as defined by the hotel owner.

I was rather surprised to read in Business Over Tapas that c.70% of all new businesses in Spain fail within 2 years. But, as Lenox points out, while the government with one hand invites people to be entrepreneurs, on the other it hits them with massive social security taxes from day 1. So, you can see why a short-sighted government would only be interested in start-ups, not their survival.

Regular readers will know that Christopher Columbus was born not in Genoa or any other claimant city but here in Poio, where we have a museum dedicated to him. Unbelievably, some Catalan so-called historians have put forward the nonsensical suggestion he was born in Cataluña. Not content with that, they also insist Cervantes was a Catalan and that these facts have deliberately been suppressed by Spanish nationalist historians. Not everyone in the region goes along with this; the VP of Societat Civil Catalans retorts that regarding the claims as scientific would be "too generous".

I don't normally go down to Tiffintown until around 12.30 but yesterday I had to go a lot earlier, to find it's a different world in the early part of the morning - very few locals on the streets but lots of tourists huddled over their maps of the old quarter. Those without iPhones, of course. Which reminds me . . . Last night my young visitors were introduced to my neighbour Ester's 3 kids of the same age and gender. Within half an hour, they were all squatting on the floor, sending each other fotos on their phones. In silence. Except for the constant tapping, of course.

I have 6 visitors and there were 6 fliers for the same pizza company in my mailbox yesterday. A coincidence? Of just an easy way to get rid of the 1,000 leaflets you're being paid to distribute, while being able to insist you really did mail them?

Finally . . . Here's a bit of (common-sense) advice on how to get some shut-eye on a plane. The mother of my daughters never needed any of it. She could sleep on a pin head. Most memorably, on a 6 hour flight back from Iran, she slept for the entire journey on the shoulder of the poor guy in the window seat - while I and few others swapped jokes with the then editor of Punch magazine, William Davis, in the aisle. It was by far the most enjoyable flight I ever had, one reason being that it came after a frustrating 5 hour delay in Tehran airport because of heavy snow. 

Finally, finally . . . BEWARE of a company on Facebook offering free cruises, via a company called Costa Cruceros. Should you give your mobile phone number, you'll find yourself connected to a premium SMS service which will charge you several euros per ad it sends you, even if you don't open the message.

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