On selling holidays…

Why do travel writers write about places that their readers will never visit, its like the most irrelevant occupation ever.

For instance, this report in The Telegraph is not likely to attract a million new visitors to the Caves of Cappadocia next season, I promise you it won’t, for who wants to spend their summer holiday peering into a the entrance of  a hole in the ground while whispering to their partner, “Shall we go in, I don’t think we should, its dark and it doesn’t smell very nice, do people really live in such shit ?”

Well yes, its dark and it doesn’t smell very nice because its a cave and there is a good reason why people don’t generally live in caves any more, its because they are dark and they smell, and there’s a good reason why people don’t use up their valuable holiday time visiting caves, its because, well, you ‘re already there aren’t you ?

So what possessed the writer of that article to believe that it would be of interest to your bog-standard English holidayer-abroad ?

Similarly before the advent of whole TV channels dedicated to the selling of package holidays we would be overwhelmed in January each year by each TV channels version of the BBC’s “Holiday 19xx” programme in which a portly middle aged woman in a red blazer and startlingly white pleated skirt  would visit cathedrals every week in an attempt to convince us all that these cathedrals would be good places to visit, “Come to Palma Majorca” she’d say, her heavy make-up staining the collar of her red blazer “and spend a glorious afternoon wandering around her cathedral”, no Judith, we won’t, for if we ever did venture to Palma Majorca we’d spend it laying on the beach being pestered by little Spanish kids who want to sell us cans of cola for ten quid a pop and getting pissed every evening in Palma’s glorious bars.

“Come to Palma Majorca” she’d say to camera in her next shot, “and take a donkey ride up this mountain to the ancient ruins of a monastery atop its height, oooh-oooh” as the donkey set off as she was reading the script to camera, and holidaymakers across this land seeking ideas for their next summers holiday whilst in the depths of a miserable English winter would mutter “No fooking way Judith, donkey ride back from an afternoon session in Linekars bar maybe…”

And then along came satellite TV and the advent of whole channels dedicated to selling package holidays 24 hours a day, they don’t need portly middle aged women in red blazers to sell cathedral trips and donkey rides to us, all they need is a tour operator’s 18 year old rep, a cheap digital video camera and a short script of shots for each hotel for the ten minute presentation.

And so every hotel package video starts with a shot of the reception with two people checking in (usually the same two people, I suspect they are two other 18 year old tour reps acting the parts) and all of them smiling while muttering “Linekars bar after this shit ok ?” and “Fook no, I haven’t slept in three days, I’m wasted already”

We then move to the swimming pool where people laze around in the sun with lots of empty sun loungers around, being especially careful not to pan across to the far end of the pool where the thousand or so holiday makers who were fighting for those sun loungers just five minutes earlier are now being coaxed to stay up that end with free beer while the video maker gets his shot, “Hurry up Dave, the Sambuca is running out”.

And finally the rooms, we see a neatly prepared room, beds made, no stains on the wall, no doors hanging off their hinges, no water heater pumping fumes into the bathroom, it all looks so nice, and the same as the shot of the previous hotel, and the previous one to that, they couldn’t all be the same room could they ?

And finally the ten million dollar shot, the one that will convince everyone to dash to their phones and call to book a fortnight at this place all-inclusive for a family of four for £98 – the toilet shot.

On every one of those videos you get the toilet shot, it starts in the bathroom and pans quickly into (pardon the pun) the toilet pan, every time, so much so that its worth watching one of these dreadful travel channels just to shout at the TV set “Show us the toilet shot”, if it were a drinking game (two fingers of Sambuca for each toilet shot) you’d be comatose by teatime.

Thats what we want from our summer holidays, not caves, donkey rides or cathedrals – if Judith had concentrated more on the toilets then she’d still have a job on the BBC and her outrageous wardrobe allowance.


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