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Having a laugh at Mueca date change fiasco! 

I never quite seem to be able to work out when this will go to print, so as you are reading this it will either be the Mueca Festival this weekend in Puerto de la Cruz, or you will have just missed it.

If you have missed it, then that would be a shame, as it is, in my opinion, one of the best festivals to take place in the town. It is a light hearted festival of performing arts that takes place each year in the town’s streets for four days over the second weekend in May.

May is a good time for such a festival, historically a quieter month in respect of tourist numbers it has proven over the years to attract more visitors to the town. This year however, it was looking as if it wasn’t going to happen. By mid March there had been no publicity whatsoever, with the designated fb page ominously empty, the last post relating to the previous year’s festival, and not a single mention from the culture department of the Ayuntamiento.

What was going on? Finally in the last week of March some news from the town hall and not good news if you’d booked hotels in May. This year it said, the Mueca festival would not be taking place in May. They had left it a bit late to announce it, perhaps they thought no one would notice if it didn’t take place. Hang on though, they weren’t intending to cancel it altogether, they were just going to move it to the last weekend in September, already a busy month with the Summer Carnaval.

Why? You might well ask. There were a couple of excuses (sorry that should read reasons) doing the rounds. The first was that the festival was too close to both, the national elections which are two weeks before, and the local elections which are two weeks after the festival dates. What difference does that make? Are we not allowed to enjoy ourselves during elections? I would think something to lighten the mood is exactly what is called for. Or perhaps the councillor responsible for culture was far too busy managing their re-election campaign to concentrate on every day council business. The whole suggestion doesn’t really wash with me, besides which, there was a similar situation in 2015 and the festival went ahead as usual, which to my mind sets a precedent.

The second excuse (damn it, done it again), which I confess may be more rumour than truth, was that one of the planned headline acts due to take part this year is famed for political satire. Now that is original isn’t it, a comedy act that pokes fun at politicians, have you ever heard the like before. Come on, I know local politicians have a very high opinion of themselves, but if you can’t take a bit of a ribbing then perhaps you have made the wrong career choice.

We will never learn the real reason (got it right that time) for the proposed date change, I have my suspicions, but I am keeping them to myself, however, for me, the worst part of this whole scenario was the fact there was no apology. They had left it late to make an announcement, but saw nothing wrong with that and had scant regard for any visitor who may have already made hotel reservations. However, they got their comeuppance as they totally underestimated the ‘public’ reaction to the news and would have been well and truly left with egg on their face if only they weren’t so thick skinned.

Still, to be thankful, this is all immaterial as Cabildo rides to the rescue of Puerto de la Cruz once again, takes control, and the Mueca Festival is back on, with the original dates, 9th to 12th May. So all’s well that ends well. Quite a coup for their culture department, one which surely must be worth a few votes, meanwhile we mustn’t forget who caused the problem in the first place and perhaps consider voting accordingly.

Visitor numbers

Moving on, a different subject and one that I can’t promise will be any more interesting. Statistics, not everyone’s cup of tea, but I used to be a number cruncher in a former life, so am a bit of a geek when it comes to percentages. In Puerto de la Cruz they set great store on visitors numbers, it is their measure of how well the town is doing, and they are right to a certain extent, but a rise in numbers doesn’t necessarily mean the town is busier. Let’s take a look at the first three months of 2019. On the whole, near enough to make no difference, visitor numbers are, give or take, on a par with the same period of 2018. (They are actually a little down, but I didn’t want to appear negative) Still they are upbeat about it; taking the uncertainty of Brexit into account (everyone blames Brexit) the figures are pretty good.

However, there are two other indicators published that are largely ignored, both are more important and both are worse than the same period last year. The first is occupancy, which is the Holy Grail to hotel owners and the best measure of how busy the town really is. Put basically, it represents the number of heads on pillows divided by the total number of beds, shown as a percentage. So now you might be thinking if the visitor numbers are more or less the same how can occupancy be down? This brings me on to length of stay, i.e. the number of days on average that people are staying, which is down on the same period last year.

So in conclusion whilst visitor numbers are holding up the town is not as busy because visitors aren’t staying as long, which might go some way to explaining why businesses in the town are continuing to close. Of course, type of visitor and their spending power also contributes, which is why, if the town continues to attract mainland pensioners on subsidised holidays in ever increasing numbers (to bolster visitor numbers I suspect) more businesses in the town are likely to fail.

Intelligent place!

And now I move on to something slightly more interesting. Puerto de la Cruz has become an Intelligent Tourist Destination. Its official, and they have the certificate to prove it, they join the ranks of 20 odd other destination scattered throughout Spain who have also reached the same dizzy heights of achievement. What does it mean? I haven’t got a clue, I’ve read all the bumf I can find and am still none the wiser. Surely it can’t mean an intelligent administration, can it?

It all seems to centre on the new street lighting and its ability to be dimmed remotely to reduce light pollution, which is great if you don’t want to see where you are going, or from a safety point, who is lurking in a dark corner. Dim lighting is a mugger’s paradise, how intelligent is that? I’m joking, of course, there must be more to it than that, but as that is the only achievement in the town which has almost been completed it is all that I can refer to. Or perhaps, you get the certificate by promising to get you act in order, by having cleaner streets, better refuse collection , more recycling and so on blah de blah. Or maybe they were given the certificate recently because it looks good for both Madrid and the Puerto de la Cruz administration in the run up to the elections.