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TOURISM

Stick with your mates: New campaign aimed at young British holidaymakers in Spain

A campaign to make young tourists aware of the importance of looking out for each other while on holiday has been launched by the British Embassy in Madrid and British Consulate in Palma.

Stick with your mates: New campaign aimed at young British holidaymakers in Spain
Georgia Hague tragically lost friend who fell from a balcony whilst on holiday. Photo: Take Your Pic on Facebook

The ‘Stick with your Mates’ campaign is part of a FCO global campaign on youth safety, working with charities like Street Angels and 24/7 to spread the message.

The campaign includes short videos and images targeted at young people on social media, under the hashtag #stickwithyourmates. Special emphasis is placed on those visiting popular resorts such as Magaluf and San Antonio, where the majority of fatal incidents and hospitalisations last year happened when people were by themselves.

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Advice published on the FCO's 'Travel aware'  website includes setting up group chats to stay in contact, keeping an eye on your friends’ drinks to ensure they don’t get spiked, not letting a friend walk home alone and checking into your hotel on social media so you can find it at the end of the night.

Consul General Lloyd Milen said: “The Balearics are a great destination where young people can have a fantastic holiday. The objective of the campaign, following several fatal balcony falls in the Balearics last summer and, sadly, one already this year, is focused on trying to prevent such accidents happening.”

“Our campaign is about providing some simple tips and advice to make sure everyone visiting the islands has a holiday to remember, rather than one they will want to forget.”

One young holidaymaker, Georgia Hague, who features in some of the 'Stick with your Mates' videos, has her own campaign called 'Don’t Leave a Friend Behind' on the island of Mallorca.

After having lost a friend who fell from a building in Magaluf, Georgia knows the importance of sticking together until the end of the night.

“You can’t stop people drinking, but you can stop a friend making a bad decision,” she said. “I see people in all sorts of trouble every night – lost on the strip, having drunk too much – which could have been avoided if they’d just stuck with their mates.”

Bel Busquets, the Vice-President of Councillor for Innovation, Research and Tourism for the Government of the Balearics welcomed the campaign, emphasising the importance of working together to ensure that visitors to the islands have a good time and can return home safe.

By Alice Huseyinoglu

READ ALSO: Dangerous craze: surgeon warns on balcony-jumping trauma in Balearic Islands 

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TOURISM

The architect trying to finish the Sagrada Familia after 138 years

Jordi Faulí is the seventh chief architect of Barcelona's iconic Sagrada Familia since Antoni Gaudi began work on the basilica in 1883, and he had been expected to oversee its long-awaited completion.

The architect trying to finish the Sagrada Familia after 138 years
Jordi Faulí is the seventh architect director of the Sagrada Familia following Antoni Gaudi and, for many, the one destined to finish it. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

But the pandemic has delayed efforts to finish this towering architectural masterpiece, which has been under construction for nearly 140 years, and it is no longer clear whether Faulí will still be in charge when it is finally done.

“I would like to be here for many more years, of course, but that’s in God’s hands,” says Faulí, 62, a wry smile on his lips.

He was just 31 when he joined the architectural team as a local in 1990 — the same age as Gaudi when the innovative Catalan architect began building his greatest work in the late 19th century, a project that would take up four decades of his life.

“When I arrived, only three of these columns were built and they were only 10 metres (33 feet) high,” he explains from a mezzanine in the main nave.

“I was lucky enough to design and see the construction of the entire interior, then the sacristy and now the main towers.”

When finished, the ornate cathedral which was designed by Gaudi will have 18 towers, the tallest of which will reach 172 metres into the air.

READ ALSO: Pandemic to delay completion fate for Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia

The second-highest tower, which is 138 metres tall and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, will be officially inaugurated on Wednesday with the illumination of the gigantic 5.5-tonne star crowning its highest point.

It is the tallest of the nine completed towers and the first to be inaugurated since 1976.

The long-awaited completion of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia will no longer happen in 2026 because the coronavirus epidemic has curtailed its construction and frustrated funding, basilica officials admitted. Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP
 
Construction halted by Civil War

In 2019, the Sagrada Familia welcomed 4.7 million visitors, making it Barcelona’s most visited monument.

But it was forced to close in March 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, with its doors staying shut for almost a year.

This year, there have been barely 764,000 visitors, municipal figures show.

And as entry tickets are the main source of funding for the ongoing building works, the goal of finishing the basilica by 2026 to mark the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death — he was run over by a tram — has been abandoned.

“We can’t give any estimate as to when it will be finished because we don’t know how visitor numbers will recover in the coming years,” Faulí says.

It is far from the first time Gaudi’s masterpiece has faced such challenges.

During the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, construction work stopped and many of Gaudi’s design plans and models were destroyed.

For critics, this major loss means they do not view what was built later as Gaudi’s work, despite the research carried out by his successors.

READ ALSO: Central spire will make the Sagrada Familia tallest church in the world

UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, has only granted World Heritage status to the Sagrada Familia’s crypt and one of its facades, both of which were built during Gaudi’s lifetime.

But Faulí insists the project remains faithful to what Gaudi had planned as it is based on the meticulous study of photographs, drawings and testimony from the late Modernist architect.

UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, has only granted World Heritage status to the Sagrada Familia’s crypt and one of its facades, both of which were built during Gaudi’s lifetime. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

Some local opposition

Nominated chief architect of the project in 2012, Faulí took over at the head of a team of 27 architects and more than 100 builders.

Today, there are five architects and some 16 builders working to finish the Sagrada Familia.

“It is a lot of responsibility because it’s an iconic project, which many people have an opinion about,” says Faulí.

Building such a vast monument which draws huge numbers of visitors is not welcomed by everyone, with some arguing that the hoards of visiting tourists are destroying the area.

Many also oppose plans to build an enormous staircase leading up to the main entrance, the construction of which will involve the demolition of several buildings, forcing hundreds to relocate.

“My life is here and they want to throw me out,” says one sign on a balcony near the Sagrada Familia.

Faulí said he understands their concerns and wants to find “fair solutions” through dialogue.

And if he could ask Gaudi one question? Faulí pauses to reflect for a few moments.

“I would ask him about his underlying intentions and what feelings he wanted to communicate through his architecture,” he says.

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