Binge tourism: Easy come, easy go?

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Kicking in shop windows. Setting a police car on fire. Clashes with police. Tottenham? Hackney? Brixton? No. Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava.

Last month police fired rubber bullets – but not at rioting Spaniards but at drunk foreigners. After two nights of riots that dragged on until the early hours, there were 20 injured, including nine police officers, and 20 arrests.

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Significantly – in a city of 40,000 with 25 discos, 261 bars and approximately a million tourists a year – all those detained were foreigners.

Now, it’s only a small minority of Spanish resorts that have this problem with drunk foreigners and for every Lloret del Mar, there are hundreds of other resorts where peace reigns.


But we have to remember that it was the British, after all, who created many of the bars and discos on the Costa Brava, not the Spanish. The exchange rates were low and everything was cheap.

Freddy Laker organised cheap flights and Wallace Arnold cheap coach tours. In the late 60s, many hotels, bars, restaurants and nightclub/ discos were British-owned. The intention was to create a Blackpool with sunshine (and chip shops and … pubs).

For decades it worked well but then, as in Blackpool, the clients changed. Spain, too, after the death of Franco. The Guardia Civil and local police lost some of their powers. Somehow the Spanish now need to strike a balance between tourism and civic order but the current economic climate makes that increasingly difficult.


Binge drinking is definitely frowned upon and discouraged in the UK. But there’s a whole raft of British teenagers who leave what little common sense they have back at the airport and, when they touch down at some Spanish party town, immediately get blind drunk, in the belief they can get away with even more immoral/ anti-social behaviour abroad because ‘out of sight’ means ‘out of mind’.

It’s these same people who get drunk on a Saturday night in English city-centres who go to Spain for longer and cheaper drinking hours.

Some attribute this anti-social behaviour to a lack of discipline at all stages of a teenager’s development. British parents can’t smack young children, teachers can’t punish those who behave anti-socially and the UK police are tied up with human rights law. So, drunk teenagers believe they can carry on getting away with it. All of which could, unfortunately, go on longer than those DFS sales …

Nora Johnson’s novel, The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) available at Amazon in paperback and as eBook. Profits to Cudeca

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