CULTURE

Must Tourism Always Kill the Goose That Lays the Golden Egg?

Even in towns off the beaten track, it doesn’t take much to disrupt the appeal of the local way of life

Matthew Clapham
Iberospherical
Published in
6 min readJun 1, 2024

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A black and white view of a beach, taken from the sea. The sand is crowded with sunshades; low-rise apartment blocks or hotels stand in the background.
Photo by Gabriel Vasiliu on Unsplash

The town where I live in Spain is a pretty quiet backwater, which makes it something of an oddity for the area.

Just five miles down the road is Benidorm, the country’s first and brashest megaresort city, packed in the summer with half a million riotous seekers of sun, sea, sand, sangría and a spot of et cetera if they get lucky.

Five miles the other way is the village of Altea, quintessentially cobbled and quaint, with its whitewashed walls and bijou boutiques. An unmissable fixture on countless bus tours and day trips for a more genteel type of tourist.

Alicante airport is 40 minutes away. Spain’s fifth busiest, handling 15 million passengers a year, most of them holidaymakers. Very few of them make it to my adopted hometown, and I get the impression that suits the locals just fine.

As the summer season gets into full swing, there are almost nightly reports on the TV news about anti-tourism campaigns and protests in Barcelona, Málaga, the Canary Islands. Horror stories from Ibiza about waiters and lifeguards sleeping six to a…

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Matthew Clapham
Iberospherical

Professional translator by day. Writer of silly and serious stuff by night. Also by day, when I get fed up of tedious translations. Founder of Iberospherical.