British writer makes small fortune listing Torremolinos as one of world’s most authentic places
ASKED to name the most authentic places on Earth, most people would have opted for somewhere in the South Seas, the Amazon rainforest or perhaps a village in the heart of Africa.
But for British journalist Mark Jones, the search for ‘authenticity’ – the latest travel buzzword – in mainland Spain ended with 1950s built Torremolinos on the Costa del Sol.
Now the seasoned writer has earnt 15,000 euros for picking the town to go on the list of The 50 Most Authentic Places in the World, published in British Airways High Life magazine.
So pleased was the town hall to be included in the list it is paying him some 306 euros a word for his claims that the town is highly “authentic”.
In justifying the claim, Jones wrote: “After 40 years of mass tourism, Torremolinos continues to evolve and, away from the coast, it’s a bustling Andalucian town. The high-rise 1950s and 1960s hotels are now admired by fashionable architects. The campaign to make it a Unesco World Heritage site begins here”.
Jones was last week awarded the annual Sol de Oro journalism prize by the mayor of Torremolinos town hall Pedro Fernandez Montes.
The official list included only one other place in Spain, Valldemossa in Mallorca.
It also included Leeds, Ludlow and Lewes in the UK, Paris, France and Greve in Italy. The whole list can be seen at High Life magazine.
One of the judges, Professor Harold Goodwin, director of the international centre for responsible tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University, admitted one traveller’s idea of “authentic” could be anathema to someone else.
“Perhaps the best way of describing it would be to use words my father used. He always said that when travelling he wanted to get into the back streets ‘to see what it’s really like’.
“It also means that your destination is still part of a community with people going about their everyday business.
“Fewer and fewer British people are going on holiday just to lie in the sun. Travel is evolving, meaning that people want to have experiences and mix with local people. This might mean they are more inclined to book walking holidays or wildlife tours or visit small festivals.”
Jones, who compiled the list, said: “Authentic tourism is growing in popularity because it’s more inclusive, more liberating and maybe because it’s more open to personal interpretation.
“An authentic tourist is one who is changed by a place and doesn’t seek to change it.”