Friday, December 04, 2009
The recession, a reduction in flight schedules and the uncertainty that looks set to continue into the New Year are all contributing factors, but I also have to wonder if Galicia might have missed the tourism boat – and if this error is self inflicted.
Four or five years ago Galicia offered a fairly unique holidaying experience. It was Spain, but not in the widely perceived sense and its climate, natural beauty and unique culture all bonded together to make a great “alternative” holiday escape destination.
Those last few years though have not seen Galicia promoted as a tourist destination.
The official organisation responsible for this, TurGalicia, is a political porn that is used primarily as one of a number of tools used to further regionalism - Something that is called nationalism in Galicia.
This regionalism argues that Galicia is in fact a nation in its own right and that its language, gallego, should be set above the conventional Spanish spoken elsewhere.
This debate is something that goes on a great length and with much animosity on many other blogs and forums and I have no intention of getting into that here.
However, one bi-product of this language promotion is that nearly all of the funding for turgalicia.es goes into thousands of “Galicia advancing” pages, but nearly all in gallego (i.e. not Spanish or any other language).
Since tourism is about bringing people and, more importantly money, from outside of your region and country this seems to defeat the object of the exercise. Turgalicia’s pages in English are limited to say the least, but their pages in Spanish are amazingly not much better.
How then can tourism in this area be adequately promoted when the very organisation responsible for it chooses to promote internally rather than to a greater audience.
Over the last 4 years we have seen a dramatic decrease in summer visitors to Galicia. We have also started to see bars and cafes actually close down because the owners no longer feel that the rewards (if any) justify the desperately long hours that they work.
Unfortunately it is hard to see any of this changing, even though the regional government is no longer one with a regionalist policy.
Tourist leaflets in other languages that were common place 5 years ago are now a rarity. It seems that fewer tourist offices cater for overseas visitors and the promotion of historic and cultural visitor attractions seems to be reducing.
So, what will next year bring for Galician tourism?
My guess is fewer visitors than this year along with a further reduction in the tourism industry and at a time when most other European regions are seeing the complete reverse.