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Inside Spain: Why it's ok to interrupt others and Spain's tourism dilemma explained

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
Inside Spain: Why it's ok to interrupt others and Spain's tourism dilemma explained
A man reads a wall sticker reading "Danger! Airbnb seriously harms the neighbourhood" plastered on a wall in Barcelona. (Photo by PAU BARRENA / AFP)

Spain? The country with the best quality of life in the world, take our word for it. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some frustrating things about it, from pervasive corruption, the habit of interrupting others and the drawbacks of mass tourism.


Are you familiar with the term PPSOE? It’s a combination of PP (the right-wing Popular Party) and PSOE (the ruling Socialists), and it’s used by critics to denote that Spain’s two main parties are just as bad as each other. 

It certainly rings true currently given that both parties are embroiled in face masks corruption scandals involving kickbacks and tax fraud (the Koldo Case for the Socialists, and the boyfriend of Madrid’s president Ayuso in the case of the PP, who allegedly used the money he didn’t declare to buy them a €1 million flat and a Maserati). 


Politicians on both sides have been slinging accusations at each other like a bunch of petulant teens, alleging that the other side is ‘more corrupt’. No one ever resigns though

They’ve also shown a complete lack of class, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez included, by using the 20th anniversary of the worst terror attacks in Spanish history (the 2004 Madrid train bombings in which 192 people died) to continue having a go at the other side. “You abandoned the victims!”, “You said it was ETA and not Al-Qaeda that did it in order to stay in power!”.

One thing is for sure though, the Spanish Parliament is one of the only places in Spain where people don’t talk over one another (perhaps because they have to take turns to use the microphone).

Have you ever noticed that there is no etiquette in Spain when it comes to interrupting others? Whether it’s a group of friends in a bar, colleagues in a work meeting, pupils butting in when a teacher is talking, and don’t get us started on TV debates. 

Even though certain situations should call for a bit more respect and decorum, foreigners shouldn’t necessarily be offended by this habit. Spaniards simply get excited about what’s being spoken about and assume that by adding their two céntimos it will make for a better conversation. The same can be said about them being quite loud speakers.

Spaniards are a fairly tolerant bunch, after all. How would you like it if your city back home was packed full of drunk foreigners with their less than appealing half-naked bodies on show, jumping off balconies, pricing you out of your neighbourhood and expecting you to speak their language?

This week we saw how a minority of locals in Málaga began an anti-tourism sticker campaign calling for tourists to “go f*cking home”


It’s happened before in other parts of Spain, although with not quite as explicit messaging.

Yes, it’s enough to get British tabloid writers frothing at the mouth with ‘we’ll take our money elsewhere’ headlines at the ready, but before they do, they should consider that Spain faces a huge dilemma as it tries to figure out how handle so much success (83 million visitors in 2023, a number which grows every year). 

How many tourists are ‘too many’? Should Spanish city centres just be for holidaymakers who stay in Airbnbs, rather than barrios where locals reside, walk, eat and meet (the essence of Spain’s intoxicating quality of life)?

Spanish tourism officials insist that the way forward is to transform the current ‘cheap’ all-inclusive model which traditional sun-seeking European holidaymakers like, and replace it with a pricier and more exclusive offering for the more affluent American or Asian tourist. Quality over quantity. 

This may help solve the issue of over-tourism, but will it alleviate the higher cost of living, rents and property that Spaniards now face? If anything, it could worsen it.

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