A couple of weeks ago I got into trouble on Instagram when I posted that toilet brush photo with the hashtag #livinglikealocal, which resulted in me losing a whack of followers. This was to do with the ongoing ISSUE of over-tourism and how so many travel agents and websites are promoting the concept of LIVING LIKE A LOCAL.
This is both a misleading and, well, impossible concept to acheive. And it’s not even a desirable one. Because the truth is that locals are not actually out all day drinking on sunny terraces and eating tapas. Because we have jobs. We have our daily chores. And we actually cannot afford to go out every day, so many evenings and weekends are spent at home Netflixing with homemade snacks and a nice bottle of wine. Sorry guys.
But of course this is just a small part of the whole over-tourism problem. In Sevilla we have seen our neighbourhoods transformed into Air BnB tourist havens. There is next to no available housing for locals in the “casco antiguo”, which means that now there are mostly shops and bars that are geared towards the “tourist market”, which unfortunately tends to mean cheap and nasty, since they don’t expect to see you again. Sad but true.
And not only are family-run shops closing down, including some iconic landmark locations, we are seeing the same trend with several traditional tapas bars, and also with many of the long-standing food stalls in our food markets. In part we can put that down to corporate greed, pushing out the “little guy” to get more money from more established international brands. But in part it is also us.
How often do you go to your local food market? When was the last time you went to those family run neighbourhood shops? The hardware store? The curtain and bedding shop? The little gourmet food and wine shop? The truth is that we are getting lazy and, as much as we love the idea of these charming shops existing, we either end up at the big department stores or else ordering online.
The point being that we don’t actually support all these places that we later lament the loss of when they pass…
And as much as I hate – and I really do hate this – the fact that most of the housing in the center in Sevilla is now only available for tourists… whose fault is this? Clearly it was initially an issue of the whole Air BnB (and their ilk) thing taking off without any clear rules and regulations from the city councel in place. It just went crazy. Now they are back-pedalling but it remains to be seen how many, if any, of these homes can be reclaimed.
Meanwhile, I maintain that LIVING LIKE A LOCAL is pretty much summed up in my photo collage above. Trust me, you don’t want to live like a local. You’re on holiday! Have fun. Be a tourist. Because there’s nothing wrong with that at all.