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Furious celebrity urges Spain to get rid of British tourists ‘in flip flops’


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A famous Spanish opera singer has hit out at “flip-flop”-wearing tourists, just days before locals in the Canary Islands are to take their anger against overtourism to the street.

Ainhoa Arteta, who received several awards during her highly successful career, said the Spanish government should put more of the spotlight on its massive cultural and historical heritage.

If it did so, Spain would be attracting more “cultural” tourists rather than waves of holidaymakers interested more in booze and beaches, the singer claimed.

After being asked whether opera in her homeland is in a healthy state, the Basque-born 59-year-old told the Majorcan daily Diario de Mallorca: “Not at all. Spain is a cainite country, it’s not a country that helps its singers and musicians.

“And it’s a shame because we have truly talented singers. If this country exploited its cultural-historical patrimony and accompanied it in all our theatres and auditoriums with ambitious programmes, we would attract cultural and not flip-flop tourism.”

Seemingly referring to Barcelona and Madrid, two of Spain’s most important cities, Ms Arteta said: “The Ministry of Tourism and Culture should act together and we should be conscious there’s culture around the country, not just in two cities.”

The celebrity, who first performed in London in 1999 with fellow opera singer and conductor Placido Domingo, is beloved in Spain and has received, among other awards, the gold medal for merit in the fine arts handed out by the Spanish Ministry of Culture.

Very well known in Spain, Ms Arteta has appeared on various popular TV programmes, including the Spanish version of Celebrity Masterchef.

While Ms Arteta didn’t openly mention British tourists, Britons are known to adore Spain as a holiday destination, particularly when it comes to its sun-kissed southern regions and the Canary Islands.

In 2023, Britons topped the list of foreign tourist arrivals in Spain, with 17.3 million UK nationals heading to the country over 12 months – up 14.6 percent when compared to 2022.

The singer’s interview came as Canary Islands residents are preparing to hold protests across the archipelago on April 20.

Campaigners are voicing their concerns at the effects the millions of tourists reaching the islands every year are having on the local environment, infrastructure and quality of life of locals.

Among the issues they have highlighted in recent days are a lack of affordable housing for permanent residents – linked to the pushing-up of property prices due to the many holiday rentals and hotels – as well as the further depletion of natural resources including water.

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