Tourism and its discontents

What about the gleaming tourist spots of Faliraki, Goa or Ibiza? Thousands of places worldwide are caught up in the tourism maelstrom, and, while it has clearly done much for many places, it also has its flip side: the effect on local identity, ecological despoliation, overdevelopment and more. Fuelled by cheap airlines, charter flights and media attention, Faliraki, the once sleepy fishing village on Rhodes, became a 'modern-day Sodom', according to some, after a TV series called Club Reps, which followed the activities of holidaymakers and reps. It rapidly became a destination for British youngsters and developed into a place of binge drinking orgies, fighting, vomiting and casual sex, encouraged, it must be said, by local bar owners. In 2004 it had clubs with names like Sinners, Excite, Bed, Climax and The Pleasure Rooms. Then the authorities clamped down after a fatal stabbing of a British boy in a drunken brawl and introduced a zero tolerance policy. Quickly the action moved on to Zakynthos. Once exclusive, for the moment it enjoys the dubious reputation of being the party haven of Europe. But in the evening a darker side quickly emerges. Barely dressed girls weave their way drunkenly between guys whose strut has been reduced to an alcoholic crawl. Flashes of violence and casual sex skirt the streets and rape is then never far away.

Goa, once a dope-filled, peace-loving haven, has long lost its innocent, fun-loving reputation, blown away by a spate of drug deaths as the hippie paradise is taken over by British traffickers. Ibiza, once a Spanish idyll, is now another party haven invaded by unshackled tourists. The club names are again appropriate: Amnesia, Eden, El Divino.

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