Everywhere looks exotic when you live in Britain, doesn’t it?! In the office we have always romanticised foreign cities and countries, creating an aura of these exotic, picturesque paradises, cultural urban masterpieces and focusing on the largesse of landmarks. Glorious pop-art posters litter the past with beautiful beach scenes and loved up locals, however, as we all know, these places cannot all be like that and reality can be a cruel mistress.
So, just as the summer is getting into full swing, we’ve picked out five holiday hotspots that have been discussed in the news recently and wondered about how these holiday destinations would look as travel posters focused on some of their troubling traits rather than their iconic landmarks.
Rio de Janeiro
First things first, Rio is going to be the place we all want to be, come the start of August when the Olympics kick off. This samba city’s unlikely to sleep for the competition’s 16 days, and is likely to still be rocking days after it’s all over. The sand, sun and sea can be soaked up down at Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, but make sure not to let you guard down: the city’s currently suffering from two epidemics – crime and the Zika virus. Keep your eyes peeled for those malicious mosquitos, they just so happen to be everywhere this summer, but without Usain Bolt speed reactions you’ll be unable to catch them. Meanwhile, crime has got so bad that football legend Rivaldo has called for visitors to “Stay home. You’ll be putting your life at risk here.” Security will no doubt be heightened to combat this, especially with the recent mugging at gun-point of the Spanish sailing team who were on their way to breakfast. So don’t rest on your laurels, this is a troubling time to visit Rio.
Our updated poster focuses on the issues affecting Brazil in what should be a brilliant summer for the country, taking the focus away from the glorious beach scene in the PanAir poster. Look closely and you’ll see that our skyline is compiled of handguns, with a flock of birds gradually transforming into a swarm of mosquitos. Christ the Redeemer still watches over the city, but there is nothing he can do to turn the tide as it all unfolds in front of him.
India - Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most famous pieces of architecture, with its legend growing year on year ever since its construction was completed midway through the 17th century. This glorious symmetrical tribute by Shah Jahan to his favourite wife was crafted out of white marble, and throughout the years has glistened in the sun. These days, however, the heavily polluted Yamuna River to its rear has started to add a brown/yellowish tinge to the beautiful white stone, and is threatening to blemish this beautiful building. So hold on to your nose and see it now before it’s well and truly too late.
We have retained the majestic shape and essence of the Taj depicted in the original Visit India effort, but have concentrated on the dark clouds of pollution that are starting to plant the seeds of decay onto this spotless structure.
Home to the pyramids, some of the most beautiful diving spots in the world and affordable, comfortable package holidays, up until 2011, Egypt was a firm favourite for Brits abroad. Since the political uprising in that year, and the subsequent terrorist attacks, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against travel to nearly all of Egypt, while following a crash of a flight heading to Sharm el Sheikh in October 2015, flights to that region from the UK no longer operate.
With this in mind, our artwork has replaced the jovial camel-riding tourists with a solitary silhouette of gunman, patrolling the Saharan sands atop another of the desert dwelling mammals. We have retained the Pyramids but by adding an opaque layer have reduced their prominence to our new scene.
Once upon a time, Benidorm was a thriving fishing village. Then in the 1950s, with the industry flagging, the town focused on the tourism trade, eventually becoming both Spain and Europe’s busiest holiday resort. So with around five million tourists a year flocking to the Costa Blanca – the majority Brits and western Europeans – the area now has shades of Blackpool. The town is littered with high rises, while down on ground level Irish bars and greasy spoons sit alongside tapas places. The sun still shines here, but there’s an element of grease and grime these days too.
The original poster portrays a delicately developed shoreline, resplendent with a moderate number of holiday makers on the sand. It looks truly idyllic and relaxing, and our new piece offers a complete contrast. We have centred upon the fact that the town has the largest number of high-rises in the world per capita, while embellishing the booze and fast-food culture that has infiltrated the town.
We all know Paris as the city of love, the embodiment of Coco Chanel and home to the Eiffel Tower. Its gothic cathedral, Notre Dame has gargoyles gazing down protectively over the city, while its tree-lined boulevards are lined with tourists and Parisians alike, basking in the city’s ambience. But one day in November 2015 changed all of that forever. The terror that struck the French capital on Friday 13 November has left a lasting impression, with soldiers patrolling the streets and some of the tourist areas almost deserted at times. Euro 2016 has kicked off, and the fear of another security breach is one that looms large on the horizon – a national state of emergency will remain in place until 26 July, covering the Tour de France, and it so seems the National Gendarmerie are here to stay.
Our Parisian lovers have stayed in place, alongside the Eiffel Tower, but are keeping up their guard, despite being heavily protected. Soaring above the scene is a pair of turtle doves who hint that calm is coming once more, while the Arc de Triomphe acts as a protective backdrop for the city, offering a security that in recent months has been lost.
So there we have it, quite the contrast – and let’s face it Blighty doesn’t seem so bad now, does it. We hope we haven’t put you off your summer travel, and that we’ve opened your eyes to some of the concerns facing some of the world’s favourite holiday destinations.
What the Public Actually Think
Following on from our updated travel posters we decided to quiz the public to see which of the five places they would most like to visit.
At the bottom of our list with 13% of the vote was the 2016 Olympic city, Rio, fresh from hosting the games. The city has a reputation for violence, crime, and throughout the 17-day tournament the city centre was heavily patrolled by armed forces, who didn’t always protect and serve. Despite this, and the threat of the Zika Virus, it still seems to have made an impact on the youngest members of the poll, with 29% of under 18s keen to visit the Samba City, quite the opposite to the oldest voters, with only 6% of 35-54 year olds and 7% of those 55+ in favour of a trip to South America.
With a score of 16%, the Taj Mahal sits in fourth place. This marble marvel is a world-renowned monument to love and beauty. This blemished beauty has seemingly not deterred tourists from visiting India, though, with the country’s Ministry of Tourism suggesting there has been a 266% growth in the first six months of 2016 compared to the same period last year, this is reflected by a joint majority vote from the 55 and overs of 36%, but not shared by the under 18s, who polled 0% for one of the wonders of the modern world.
Egypt comes in third place, just ahead with 18% of the vote. It seems that almost one in five members of our poll don’t worry about travel trends or the news when considering a holiday destination. Egypt’s reputation hasn’t recovered from the years of turmoil that have hit the North African country while with the boycott from the Russian government, the country is struggling to bolster its tourism. Our poll figures seem to suggest that older members of our electorate are less likely to consider the harsh realities of the country, as 27% of 35-54 year olds and 21% of those 55 and older are still intrigued by the land of the pyramids.
It seems the public know what they want, regardless of reputation, and that’s why Benidorm made it into second place with 23% of our audience preferring to visit the Costa Blanca. As a holiday destination, this high rise kingdom certainly offers reliable rays of sun, warm seas, and plenty of greasy spoons and pubs – must haves for Brits abroad, in particular those 55 and older, with 36% in favour of a trip there, and women more interested in visiting than men, with 23% of the vote, compared to 17%.
Our top ranked destination is one of the world’s most culturally important cities, Paris, which recorded a whopping 30% of our surveyed audience, with more male romantics than female ones in the poll 33% to 30%. The city’s vibrancy remains very much intact, and with both Euro 2016 and the Tour de France concluding in the French capital, it’s still the place for the big occasion, and this was reflected in a poll-high 57% of the under 18 vote voting for the city. However, following the terrorist attacks in November 2015, the country has been under a government imposed lockdown, and tourist numbers have slumped, and this might have impacted the judgement of our oldest pollsters, with 0% of their vote posted for Paris. It appears that none of this really matters to almost a third of our fearless members of the public, who perhaps see the presence of the Gendarmerie on the streets as a reassuring protective layer.
Well, that proves it, despite the reality of these five destinations, tourists still want to visit them, seemingly not worrying about the threats and concerns illuminated by the press. What do you think of our posters and of our survey results? Let us know on social using #foreverdifferent.