The other night we were watching an episode of The West Wing where Jed Bartlet met up with his opposite number in the Republican Party, Governor Robert Ritchie.
Ritchie told Jed Bartlet he didn’t like him because he was a ‘superior sumbitch’ a reference to Bartlet being an elitist snob whereas Ritchie was an ordinary ‘good ol’ boy’. The fact that one had just been to a classical rendition of ‘Wars of the Roses’ and the other had been to an American football game seemed to highlight the gulf between the two. It was a discourse which made me think of Tenerife.

From a potential British holidaymaker’s point of view (and that’s an important distinction – for some British visitors, tourism on Tenerife means only them; every other nationality is invisible) Tenerife has long held an image of attracting ‘good ol’ boys’. People who like doing things like spending their time between lying on a beach, or beside their resort pool and chewing the fat in the local, usually British, bars. A statement I hear often is a variation of this:
“I’ve worked hard and I’ve come on holiday to relax, not to wander around old churches or immerse myself in local culture.”

You could call this immersing yourself in the local culture...not quite as dull as some would have you believe

You could call this immersing yourself in the local culture...not quite as dull as some would have you believe

I suspect these people consider themselves as ordinary folks. Sometimes I feel there’s an inference that people who actually enjoy doing other things than lying on a beach and knocking back the pints in a bar haven’t actually worked hard otherwise why would they want to ‘waste’ their time doing boring things like visiting museums/old towns/fiestas/going walking. Many have a Governor Ritchie attitude and their approach to being on holiday is that of ‘good ol’ boys’ doing what ‘ordinary’ people do and anyone who thinks different is a ‘superior sumbitch’ to be treated with suspicion.

What really gets my goat though is the idea that people who find it relaxing and mentally stimulating to stroll around a lovely old town or to join in with local fiestas don’t also  enjoy beach time or sinking a few jars in an inviting tasca.

I read a hilarious blog recently from a couple of gay Australians who spent their holiday drinking too much at night and singing bad karaoke (I Will Survive of course), lounging about on the island’s beaches as well as hiring a car and having adventures around the island; visiting Mount Teide, Puerto de la Cruz, Los Gigantes, Masca and Santa Cruz in the process.

These were exactly my sort of people. They knew how to have fun, but they were also really interested in discovering Tenerife and they loved what they found. When I read blogs from visitors of this ilk after ploughing through reams from people only interested in where they can get a pint for a euro, it reminds me that there are thousands of visitors to Tenerife who don’t fit the ‘beer and burger’ profile and that their numbers seem to be increasing each year. These are the people that Real Tenerife Island Drives and Going native in Tenerife are aimed at.

In ‘The West Wing’, when Ritchie claimed that he was one of the ordinary people because he was the one who’d gone to the football match rather than a classical concert, Jed Bartlet responded by pointing out that one of the football players Ritchie was watching had a degree and another played a classical instrument.

I don’t know what being ‘ordinary’ means, but I do know it doesn’t have to mean being dull and disinterested.

Tenerife’s had more than its fair share of Governor Ritchies for a long time; it’s good to see some more Jed Bartlets on the scene.

  1. Rob Barham says:

    Corporate tourism to Tenerife should increase with new hotels such as Gran Melia Palacio de Isora opening up but maybe that’s not the answer as delegates will be too busy to get about. The solution is probably an increase in DIY travel bookers and a corresponding decrease in the “herds” of package tourists…. The tour operators don’t really encourage their guests to immerse in the local culture, they just offer uninpiring coach trips to Teide or Loro Parque

  2. Pamela says:

    As a former bad karaoke compere, who also happens to like old towns, fiestas, nature, etc., they sound just like my sort of people too.

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