Opinion

Proximity tourism

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FITUR'23 is back from 18 to 23 January after the coronavirus pandemic and in the midst of the invasion of the Ukrainian people by Russian mercenaries. Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Tunisia, Jordan, Kenya and South Africa will be the reference stands south of the Mediterranean for businesspeople from the sector and for tourists and travellers at this XLIII edition.  

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Spain is a world top 5. We have been a cosmopolitan and global power since the 1960s. We have the best ingredients to attract visitors. That's why they feel at home. And they return to the place where they have been happy. Our catering is full of "companies with soul". And time is our eternal ally. 

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A link to peace 

Fighting and defending freedoms and democracy from Kiev to Kherson is our duty as citizens and as Europeans. Trade was invented precisely to avoid wars. And the exploration of every society, village, river, valley, mountain range, horizon or monument - what we call tourism - is the great social, cultural and economic phenomenon since the end of World War II.

The breaking of the rules of the game by Moscow in the midst of the energy crisis confirms the need not to depend energetically and digitally on authoritarian countries. Without peace there is no freedom and without freedom there is no tourism. There is nothing. 

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The impulse to travel goes back a long way; Marco Polo or the Discovery of America changed the world. Tourism has always been an "endless Roman bridge" for tolerance and a main link in the chain of peace.  

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A tourist comes to enjoy, to know and share new feelings and emotions. Spain is a world power where the climate and the friendliness of our people have allowed us to pay the oil bill for six decades. The beach, the mountains, the 25 World Heritage Cities, our islands, museums, castles, churches, cathedrals and our gastronomy have attracted more than 3,000 million foreigners who have felt at home here.

Spain opens the doors of paradise. Tourism has been the best school of diplomacy for selling our virtues and strengths to the world. With our King Felipe and Queen Letizia as plenipotentiary ambassadors.

Today, in this time of technical and human recession, we are calling for a new kind of tourism, precision tourism or tourism of proximity. For locals and foreigners alike. Let's start with the rural world, the world of good people. Empty Spain needs to water its loneliness with solidarity money. Tourism that will inspire the Atlantis of the countryside. Almost everything is yet to be discovered and everything surprises you: food, wine, art, rivers, culture, crafts and history, even if it is the history of the ruins of our glorious past. Three millennia of civilisation are staring back at us.  

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Before windmills destroy landscapes and solar gardens degrade our fauna and flora, we must transform uncertainty into hope. The Paradores Nacionales are privileged vantage points where the world has stopped to savour local food and wine.

Another affordable option is to "de-stress" in the thermal waters. The baths cleanse bodies and souls. They are sources of life and are spread all over the country.

Bird watching, mycology or the pig slaughtering ceremony reconcile us with the forgotten Spain and with our past as gatherers and stockbreeders.  

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Telework and sunflowers 

While the war lasts, we must vindicate the culture of water: without abundant rain or snow, we must visit our reservoirs, and climb the bell towers of the churches that have been submerged for decades to alert our politicians that water belongs to everyone and that the National Hydrological Plan is urgent and necessary. Without water there is no life.

It would be good, dear fellow citizens, to see once again our heroes of the land scorched by neglect. This year has been catastrophic. It will take us five years to rebuild. This would also be quality tourism to see first-hand the effects of our scorched stubble.

Even if the Big Bang - Big Explosion and last horizon - proves to be an insufficient theory to explain the origin of the Cosmos and the investigations of Vagpozzi and Loeb with the Big Bounce - The Big Bounce - prevail, we are going to clear two paths for the new precision tourism: one is the tourism of teleworking.  

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The Canary Islands offer unbeatable conditions in terms of quality of life and prices. Thousands of British, French, Nordic and Germans have already settled in the archipelago, alone in the Atlantic, because it is cheaper than working at home. German companies partly subsidise the cost for their nationals. All you need is good wifi coverage, sunshine and friendliness.

And along these lines, we also support energy tourism. In Northern Europe, gas and electricity prices have made it possible for the Mediterranean to become the most sustainable place to wade through this winter of our disenchantment. Pensioners find it profitable to live between the coasts of Azahar and Sol from the Saints to the Festivals of San Juan. Helio is responsible for this. 

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Tourism is a balm for learning and understanding that, after television and the Internet, we are all one world. We are like sunflowers: we are always looking for the light. Even on cloudy days they look at each other, sharing energy.

Nature teaches us that, if we are not visited by the sun every morning, we have ourselves. There is always an open hand and a broad smile for new paths around the corner. Human tourism. Tourism of greater precision. Closer. We only get there sooner, it is true; but together we get further.  

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FITUR, yet another year, gives us back life and hope. Let us always bear in mind that life is the best journey. Madrid is always a great meeting point. Tourism, without a doubt, is a great invention.

*Antonio Regalado is a journalist and directs BAH√ćA DE √ćTACA at: aregaladorodriguez.blogspot.com