Almería in 2011 dropped to the seventh most visited province in Andalucia (remember – there are only 8 provinces!), down from the fourth just a few years ago.
Only Huelva – the strawberry and stainless steel province- has fewer tourists then we do. Most tourists arrive at Huelva, see that thanks to its petro-chemical-stainless steel industry it’s one of the most polluted areas in Europe (thanks, EU commission for pointing this out!) and flee onwards to the Algarve, shuddering.
Jaén and Córdoba, both arid mountain provinces, have upped their tourism figures by pulling in the eco-tourists, notably to such places as Cazorla natural park, the Guadalquivir and different archaeological sites scattered throughout.
Almería, meanwhile, continues to be stuck in “sun and beach” mentality, which is why we have Mojácar in the state it is at the moment. (My thoughts on Mojácar – will it matter in the future? continue to be valid, by the way).
Trouble with the sun and beach tourism is that as Almería grows ever more expensive, these tourists flock to other, cheaper destinations elsewhere. And once Greece goes back to the drachma… woo hoo Mykonos, errr Mojacarrr what?
And quite a lot of the trippers on board flights into Almería don’t come this way, they head down to Granada coast.
I mean, have you been to Roquetas recently? No, I too would feel a bit ripped off if I turned up there for a nice holiday at this time of year. At least in Granada you can go skiing, and the tapas are better.
Part of the trouble is that the Junta doesn’t seem to want to include Almería into its free trips for travel agents agenda, as our local tourism board in Almería pointed out. So travel agents for the big booking firms turn up, get shuttled past Seville (flamenco!), Córdoba (the Mezquita!), Jaén (Cazorla! Baeza!), Málaga (well… about 85% of the province really, apart from the slums round the back we don’t talk about), Cádiz (carnaval!), Granada (Alhambra! Ski!). What’s that just over the mountains? Oh, that’s where we grow the tomatoes, no point going there.
On a different note, I read an interview with a Madrid archaeologist recently (I forget her name) who claimed that the relatively unprospected sites of the Argar civilisation in Antas could be one of the biggest waiting-to-be-discovered historical treasures of Europe today. While I appreciate she was “bigging it up” for the research money, I fully support the exploitation of this 3,000 year old dead civilisation to bring in the tourists. Antas has a lovely museum on the subject which, apparently, is always closed unless you know precisely which Pepe who works in the townhall has they key. It’s not really the sort of attitude we need to be presenting the oil rich Arabs with when they’re planning their cultural tour of Al-Andalus.