9,500 British students party wildly at Salou on Catalonia’s Costa Daurada
Thousands of university students from the UK and Ireland come to the Saloufest, a sports tour during the day and a disco and street party at night. “We come to the Saloufest because there are a lot of parties, everything is very cheap and we feel safe” stated one UK student who arrived on Sunday and will party until Thursday in this coastal Catalan town with the first group of 4,000 people. The second and third groups will come after the Easter holidays, on the 2nd and 9th of April. The youngsters bring money in to the hotel, restaurant and bar sectors during a weak period of the year business-wise. However, many neighbours are fed up with the noise and other disturbances, and some locals even leave the town during these days.
Salou (ACN).- Thousands of university students from the UK and Ireland come to party at the Saloufest: a sports tour during the day and a wild street party at night. This year is the 13th edition of this controversial event, which brings money to this Costa Daurada town during a weak period of the year business-wise but annoys many of its neighbours. Besides playing up to 25 different sports during the morning, when night falls the students dress up and drink, which results in singing in the street and shouting amongst other demonstrations of behaviour associated with high consumption of alcohol. \u201CThere are great parties here, it\u2019s very cheap, the town is nice and cheerful, and there is a good atmosphere. In addition, I feel safe because we are all students\u201D, stated Andreas, who has come with his water polo team and bought a full package for a bit more than \u20AC200 at the tour operator \u2018I love Tours\u2019. Andreas is one of the 4,000 British and Irish university students who arrived on Sunday in this coastal Catalan town and will party until Thursday, just before the arrival of families to spend the Easter holidays. A second group of 4,500 people will arrive just after Easter, on the 2nd of April, and a third contingent of 1,000 students will come on the 9th of April. There will be 9,500 youngsters in total who will bring money to Salou\u2019s hotels, restaurants and bars, but also noise and other disturbances to the neighbours until very late hours. In fact, some of the local residents are so fed up with the party that have decided to leave the town during these days.
They dress up as soldiers, dancers, troglodytes, Teletubbies, clowns, superheroes or as any other imaginable character, and they are really keen on enjoying Salou\u2019s night opportunities and partying wildly. The model of combining daily sports practice with night leisure is proving to be quite successful, since 500 more students are coming in 2013 than those who did in 2012. The 9,500 students will play 25 different sports during the morning, they will rest during the afternoon and they will party at night. \u201CBasically what we are doing is waking up in the morning, going to play sport, resting at the hotel during the afternoon and partying at night, when we have a few drinks and have a great time\u201D, explained Alex, while he was partying on Monday night. Next to him, Joe euphorically related that they \u201Care greatly enjoying the Saloufest parties\u201D and ensured they are drunk \u201Cbut not too much\u201D. A few metres away, Pedro Serra, the owner of a fast food restaurant, was observing the busy traffic of youngsters going along Salou\u2019s leisure streets.
\u201CI think it\u2019s OK, they are young people and for many years they have come to Spain, because it is a tourist destination and it also sells itself as such. Some come to enjoy the sun, others the drinks, and everything forms a package, which people enjoy because life lasts only two days!\u201D stated Pedro. Furthermore, he recognised that, without the university students, he would not have opened the doors of his business these days. \u201CThe fact that 10,000 people come to a town such as Salou represents an increase in our living standards, because tourism creates work and we all live from this\u201D, he added. However, he also stated that students \u201Chave to control themselves\u201D and \u201Cnot get completely wasted\u201D at night.
An economic impact of \u20AC5 million for the local economy
Those benefiting the most from the presence of 9,500 foreign youngsters are hotels, leisure centres, discos, bars and restaurants. The impact on the sector will be over the \u20AC5 million. In addition, many hotels are completely full and some restaurants have had to hire additional staff for these days. The coordinator of a famous Salou disco explained that they have hired 20 additional waiters and waitresses than they would do in a regular March month. According to him, this fact shows the positive effect of the British and Irish students\u2019 presence. The impact can also be confirmed at a famous hamburger restaurant, which is working non-stop for the entire night.
Youngsters are being constantly watched over, states the organisation
According to the organisation the groups of youngsters are constantly being watched over in order to prevent them from going too wild and to assist them if necessary. The students are being guided through Salou\u2019s streets and nightlife. In addition, they are also being told not to talk to journalists and to avoid having their picture taken. The tour operator has also hired additional ambulances, which took at least one youngster to the hospital on Monday night for ethylic intoxication. The local police and the Catalan Police officers are also watching them to make sure things do not get out of control. However, their presence tries to be from a safe distance in order to avoid provocation and they seem to have instructions to only intervene when it is strictly necessary.
Some neighbours run away from the noise
However, all this partying has a darker side for many local residents. The noise created by the improvised street celebrations of friendship or joy annoy many neighbours since they last until the early morning. Some of them are tired of it and they stated they \u201Ccannot stand it anymore\u201D. Some have even decided to leave the town during these days. The neighbours consider the youngsters\u2019 behaviour to be a lack of respect for them and they added that some university students even access the private properties nearby their hotels to swim in the pools or lie down on the garden lawn. \u201CThe worst thing is the noise, because we cannot sleep. The youngsters go out on the streets totally drunk, they get naked and they show us their behinds. It is shameful. In addition they fight between themselves and they hit each other\u201D, explained Gemma Plana, a Salou neighbour.
Furthermore, Manuel Cerezo, the President of a community of neighbours, lamented that this kind of tourism is promoted. \u201CI support promoting foreign tourism but they should do it right, real sports tourism and not between inverted commas or as an alibi [for getting drunk]\u201D, he said. According to Cerezo, the most important thing is that the students respect the local rules and respect the neighbours. In addition, he pointed out that an alternative to this type of tourism should be found.
Hotels, restaurants, discos and bars are satisfied with the Saloufest
However, the people working in the hotel, restaurant, bar and night club sectors are particularly satisfied with the Saloufest. For instance, up to seven hotels exclusively open their doors to host the UK and Irish students. In addition, many shops and other businesses related to eating and drinking profit from the presence of the young visitors to boost their Easter season. Otherwise, they would have had their businesses shut down. This is Lídia Bagnet\u2019s case. \u201CWithout the Saloufest I would not have opened my business and I would not have hired my workers\u201D, she stated. However she also understood the neighbours\u2019 complaints but she asked them to be patient. \u201CI understand they make a lot of noise, but they bring us work and it\u2019s only three days\u201D, she insisted.
To make their clients feel more comfortable, hotels and restaurants adapt their businesses. \u201CWe set lower prices because they are students and we offer them the food they like such as the English Breakfast\u201D, explained Bagnet. Additionally, she defended her clients\u2019 behaviour. \u201CIt is true they are very noisy, they drink a lot, they sing and shout but they do not cause any problems and they do not break anything\u201D, she said. For her, it is a satisfactory business model \u201Cwhile there is not anything else\u201D. \u201CAnything is OK because we have to work\u201D, she stated.