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One thing I love most about going on holiday is the chance to experience a new culture. Trying to obtain a vague grasp of the language, deciphering restaurant menus, understanding the history and traditions of the new place and experiencing the city by night. This summer I went on my first beach holiday to Tenerife and I had no idea what to expect.
Upon arriving in Tenerife I was quite shocked to see how British the whole place was. To me, as someone who had never been to a place like Tenerife, it was quite bizarre how the majority of the island had become dominated by big English takeaways and everything a tourist could possibly want. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time in Tenerife and I would definitely go back. I also completely understand why some people chose to go on a tourist-orientated holiday; I just can’t help but feel that some of the Spanish charm was lost.
Set amongst an amazing mountain backdrop, the beach was awash with bars and restaurants. The island of Tenerife seems to have fallen into a tourism trap, instead of trying to draw in the tourists it has been shaped into a perfect tourist resort, frozen into sun, sea and Britishness. Everyone I met spoke perfect English, all of the food was British and a pint was only one Euro. There was something quite comforting about everything being in English; there was none of that panic about what you are eating at dinner and no sense of danger as you board public transport with no knowledge of its destination. I understand completely that the main industry of Tenerife is tourism and this is the native’s livelihood, I just believe that if you wish to travel abroad you should be willing to embrace foreign culture. We should change for them, and not the other way around.
The only piece of my holiday which truly drove me insane was the pushy salesmen. The salesmen unfortunately seem to have developed as another part of the tourism trap. I get the feeling that the salesmen are not a natural part of the Spanish culture but instead part of the culture of tourism, where a salesman of any nationality will try and draw the punters in through any means possible. By day three we had invented a rule. We would not go into any bar or restaurant where a salesmen had tried to draw us in, but this was easier said than done. Every bar along the main strip had someone outside trying desperately to get you to eat there. I hate to be pressured and I can make my own mind up without the help of someone else. This meant that whenever we went for dinner I ignored everyone in sight and always stayed away from the main beach. I am very glad this isn’t a part of British culture.
It almost feels as though that the tourist beach of Tenerife is a far flung part of the British Empire, long forgotten about but still colonised by British people. Without tourism this island’s economy would crumble, struggling to return to its once rural roots. With all of the beautiful weather that Britain cannot provide I am certain that people will continue to flock there for years to come.