Travel: It's a small world

CAN YOU imagine just how tiny the world has really become? Well, this tiny: Thomson Holidays recently announced that it has run out of new feasible destinations to which to send its customers. The more recent package holiday destinations such as Cuba and Mexico may well be the last of their type to be developed.

As for Peru, Laos, Nicaragua, the Yemen, Angola, North Korea, Sudan et al - no matter how attractively cheap they may become, no matter how excellent their climates may be, Thomson is not planning on packaging them into mass-market resorts and no doubt some people will heave a sigh of relief at that news.

The people who really have something to laugh about, though, are the Spanish, who are busy consolidating the dominance they already exercise over our hearts and minds when it comes to summer holidays. Potential rivals such as Greece have fallen away, leaving Spain to hog nearly 50 per cent of the entire package market. And in future, confirms Thomson, the big plan is not to find new destinations, but to make the old ones more interesting.

How is it planning to do this? From what I hear, this is partly about simulating deeper Mediterranean cultural experiences for holiday-makers. Some Thomson customers will have the opportunity, for example, of attending (staged) Spanish weddings, and even of taking part in them. They will be taken through some of the local markets and be sold dodgy goods by an actor. They will experience ancient rituals around Dalt Vila in Ibiza. I would describe these as an advance, of sorts, on fish and chips.

Don't imagine that people won't be up for a spot of cultural interaction, by the way. Thomson's consumer research reveals the mind-boggling truth that people actually want to be touched by the countries they visit. In fact, people are always telling me that their best ever holiday happened after they got chatting to some bank teller in Spain and ended up spending the rest of the week with his or her family.

In tourist-infested countries such as Spain, it is just the initial contact that is so hard. In the case of bank tellers, it happens when you get long-changed by a substantial sum and decide to return the following day, after the teller has spent a sleepless night worrying about his error.

But contact can happen in the unlikeliest of circumstances. I once met a couple of scary thump-heads covered in tattoos travelling on a bus from Torremolinos to London. One of them said he had been jailed for fighting during his holiday. That sounded bad. Then the other bloke who had a tattoo inked on his forehead said: "Yeah but the best bit was going out into the country. It was like a white village nestling in the hills, mate. Beautiful."

It turned out that the two of them had spent their time being hosted by the family of a waiter they had met in the local bar back in Torremolinos. They spent the rest of the 40-hour trip telling me to avoid the Costa del Sol because all you could get there was greasy British fish and chips. In the village they had eaten interesting Spanish food; they got to know the family members; they saw the inside of the houses. It had been the seminal experience of their lives, something they would never, ever forget.

I doubt very much that themed "Thomson experiences" will ever amount to life-changing experiences such as this. At worst, they will end up promoting Spain as a flamenco and sangria theme park. But if it goes some way to helping people recognise the countries they visit, at least the world will not seem quite so miniscule.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there