Friday, July 8, 2011

Some advice for Spanish Tourism Officials

I hate to have to tell you this, but far too many of your tourism offices offer very little value to English Speaking Tourists. At first, we thought it was a one off situation, but after a while we realized there's a serious problem. In your effort to get multi-ligual staff you are often losing out on people who know something about your cities, and people who can understand English. The problem was particularly acute in Seville which has so much to offer English speaking tourists. In one centre, getting information about activities and things to see was as difficult as removing teeth from a patient in a dentists chair. My general question of "is there anything more we should know about interesting things to do in your city invariably ended with "no".

In Seville, I asked one young girl in a facility near the Cathedral how best to view the EXPO 92 site...she knew nothing about it. I'm not making this up. One of the most significant initiatives in Seville in the last century and she really knew nothing about it....and the reason I'm calling her out, is that when we arrived in her office, she was playing cards on her computer. She should have been learning English, or more about the city.

I went back to the office after lunch to see if I could get some basic information. Another person, Carmella, was fantastic, and full of valuable information including where best to see Flamenco with the Sevillians, and what else to do at night. But she was an exception, not the rule. I subsequently learned that everyone went to Carmella since she was so knowledgeable.

We arrived at the Train Station in Granda with the intention of going to the Alhambra Palace. Hundreds of thousands of people must be in the same situation...but was there ANY information availble telling you how to get there? Nada! There's no tourist information whatsoever in this and most other train stations. In this case, there was not even a board telling you which bus to take, and where to get it, how it will cost, where to buy tickets, or how much a taxi will cost. I just don't understand why this problem is allowed to exist. Hasn't anybody ever pointed it out before? I'll send this along to the Spanish Tourist folks, just in case.

While we have been to Spain a few times, and I don't speak any Spanish...we manage, But our holidays would be so much enriched if the ladies in the tourist office, (and yes they almost always seem to be ladies) had a better grasp of things. It would be so easy to train them...I'd love to be given the opportunity~

By contrast, we arrived home in Vancouver and travellers are greeted by extensive tourist facilities. If I have any criticism, it's only that we may have gone overboard. But the airport authority and tourism vancouver have done a good fact an excellent job. They could teach the Spanish a few things!


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