Fistful of Euros’ Scott Martens has an entertaining recollection of his visit to the well-known British enclave of Benidorm, Valencia, Spain.
As far as I can tell, thanks to daily discount charter service between Sheffield and Alicante, the Costa Blanca is simply a warm, low-tax part of Yorkshire.
From one end to the other, Benidorm is covered in English pubs and restaurants that advertise, out front and in large print, that they serve English food. Starting with English breakfasts (eggs, bacon, sausage, sliced white bread toast, cooked tomatos and baked beans) and continuing with menus that prominently display the ever-present availability of fish and chips or bangers and mash, the cuisine of Benidorm is more English than any I have ever actually seen in England. In most of the world, serving English food is not something one brags about.
Searching for the authentically Spanish in Benidorm is a complete waste of time.
Slowly I began to realise: people do not come to the Costa Blanca to visit Spain. They come to find a warmer bit of Yorkshire. The elimination of distance has also eliminated difference.
It turns out to be a pretty good illustration of what anthropologist Ulf Hannerz (Transnational Connections, London, Routledge, 1996) calls “home plus” — the tendency of non-comopolitan migrants to seek to experience their new contexts as “home plus x”. In this case, tourists seeking Yorkshire plus sunshine.
Hannerz’s point is to be skeptical about claims that cheap travel necessarily gives rise to cultural globalization and new cosmopolitan cultures. The parochial enclave effect is just as likely.
A paper by Louise Sverud about British tourists in Lanzarote making use of this concept is online (PDF).
Hannerz, who was one of my favourite scholars back when I was a social theory geek, has a new book out that I must get round to reading: Foreign News: Exploring the World of Foreign Correspondents.