So that was 2016 in Puerto de la Cruz!
This is when I usually do a brief summary of the things that have happened in Puerto de la Cruz during the last year, and give a brief rundown of all the projects completed, of the promises delivered and of the general upkeep of the town. This year I expected to be able to do the same, even sat at my keyboard with fingers poised while I racked my brain trying to think what to say. I use the word ‘finger’ in the plural because my typing skills have progressed to now being able to use two fingers on each hand. This is, at least, one achievement from 2016 that I can boast about, albeit a personal one. I know I am blathering instead of concentrating on the topic in hand, but the truth is I am stalling, trying desperate to think how to be able to put a positive spin on it, or at the very least of something to delay the inevitable. Alas I can put it off no longer, 2016 in Puerto was for me the year when nothing happened. I am disappointed; I was expecting more from the current team in the town hall, they were full of so many good ideas when they were canvassing for our vote.
I will go further and say that for me personally the one word which best sums up Puerto throughout the year of 2016 is neglect. I have never seen the streets so dirty, the gardens so uncared for, trees and shrubs so unkempt, so many litter and rubbish bins overflowing and through the summer months so much garden rubbish left to rot on the roadside often for weeks on end, before being collected. This may sound very negative, but I report on things I see and speak as I find.
Surely there must be something positive to say, calle Quintana, for example, yes, I assume that will be described as a success story for 2016, or at least it will be when it is finished. There has also been a lot of investment in the town’s hotels through-out the year. We are told that this investment is essential for the town’s recovery. To have modern hotels with facilities that the present day visitor demands is the number one priority and as such it should be tackled before all else. I have used this term before and I like it so I will say it again, what is the point of having 5* facilities in what is at best a 3* town. I use the word town to describe Puerto whereas others choose to call it a city. There is no word in Spanish to differentiate between the two, but for me the word city implies an element of grandeur which Puerto does not possess. Puerto is a town; don’t try to over sell it.
If hotel improvements are a priority above all else for the current administration then marketing has become their number one preoccupation, we have heard or seen little else during the last six months, it is the town hall’s new buzz word . Marketing has proved to be an effective tool for many organisations but it needs to be realistic, don’t make the town out to be something that it isn’t. A problem I find with marketing in general is that those involved in it begin to actually believe in all the hype.
Is the town’s current marketing strategy a success? Visitor numbers for 2016 were certainly up, (I refer only to British visitors) but is that down to improvements to the town or the effectiveness of it marketing plan. I think it is safe to say that the answer is a resounding no; it is more likely due to the fact that the namby- pamby British Foreign Office has effectively vetoed holidays in half of Europe’s popular holiday destinations by declaring them unsafe to travel to. With tour companies and more likely insurance com-panies afraid to take the risk they have turned to relatively safe Spain and the scramble to sign up available beds they have once again looked at Puerto de la Cruz.
Let’s have a look at the town’s current marketing strategy; I’ll try to keep it short so as not to bore you too much. They are targeting the British market in 2017, perhaps they see us as gullible and likely to believe their spin, but probably it’s because there has been a leap in numbers during 2016 which they will try to maintain. The Puerto ‘brand’, as they like to call it, (probably not as well known as Heinz, but they are working on it) has a new slogan, ‘Puerto de la Cruz, parte de ti’ which is translated as ‘Puerto de la Cruz, part of you’. Ok, but what is it supposed to mean and who is it aimed at? I assumed it was aimed at future visitors, but how is Puerto ever going to be part of them, if they are lucky a visitor spend two weeks here, if they are very lucky a visitor likes the place and returns, it hardly makes Puerto part of the you. I was wrong, it seems it is meant to imply the community spirit, that Puerto is one big happy family and that its residents are its best advocates. Wishful thinking, but I might be wrong and why if the people who live here are the best adverts for the town do they not use them in the town’s adverts or in posts on the multitude of social media sites we are bombarded with, instead of the same group of models/actors. Come on, keep it real, fat and ugly people are just as welcome in Puerto de la Cruz.
There I have mentioned it, so let’s expand on it, social media, a great marketing tool when used correctly and there are many ‘official’ sites for Puerto de la Cruz, too many in fact and I am only referring to the ‘English’ language ones. Some of them are very good and some of them are laughable, but that might just be down to my sense of humour. I know it is easy to criticize, but I wish they would use someone to post who is a real speaker of our language, who can write in real English, all too often they are phrased by someone who has either swallowed an Oxford Concise or believes that Google translate must be right, and why the current trend to try and make a post into poetic verse. Come on, get real, it is only a social media post which visitors spend at best a couple of seconds mulling over.
I said I would keep it brief, but it has dragged on, I’m bored with it now, so I am sure you are as well, I have just one more thing to say on the subject. If local residents are to be great ambassadors for the town when is the local administration going to come good on its promises and provide them the things that the residents of surrounding towns enjoy, like a bus station, a municipal pool, a concert venue and why not a sports centre, they have the land. Or some things even easier to achieve, a clean and tidy town, (the town is not all about San Telmo) or traffic lights that aren’t out of action for months at a time. First impressions count for visitors and residents alike. The town may rely on visitors but it needs the support of its residents.
So what of 2017, more of the same I guess, my expectations are not very high.