As the FITUR website itself explains this fair is “the global meeting point for tourism professionals and the leading trade fair for inbound and outbound markets in Latin America. At its staging, FITUR broke all previous participation records with 10,487 companies from 165 countries and regions, 142,642 trade visitors and 110,848 visitors from the general public”.
This means it’s the largest event where any country can show off its best side.
As is the case every year, the Basque Autonomous Community (BAC) and the Navarrese Chartered Community (NCC) have a presences at this event.
The BAC stand, as ETB explains, has “a large stand with recycled material and three-dimensional images of Basque tourist resources. ‘It will be a sustainable, responsible space, which includes the new image and spirit of Basquexperience, in a framework of curved forms and three-dimensional reproductions of our resources as if they were sculptures,” as Sonia Pérez, the Councilor for Tourism, Commerce, and Consumption explained.” In fact, it won the award for the best stand in the Category of Institutions and Autonomous Communitoies.
We’re telling you all this because we just saw this tweet, showing a moment of the inauguration of this stand on January 22.
It’s a few seconds of footage of the Burdina’m spectacle, led by Bilbao-born Flemenco bailaora Adriana Bilbao, who is alluding to that “Basque Country that is plural, where Flamenco, Basque tradition, and industry are common threads, with the mines and miners as the backdrop”.
— Natalia Zapatero (@turiskopio) January 22, 2020
And we were left dumbfounded. What we saw seemed to us to be the largest piece of evidence of “Basquexit“, of abandoning, of fleeing, of distortion of the projection of Basque culture that we’ve seen in the past few years.
And don’t misunderstand us. We’ve proudly written about several examples of cultural mixing, like for example between Gypsies and Basques (like here or here). We do so because we’re convinced that we are an open, plural society, with a clear commitment and desire to take in elements from other cultures that have come to join Basque society and to make those elements our own.
But the FITUR is a tourism fair where every participant is trying to show off the elements that best and most clearly represent them. The goal is to attract tourists with distinguishable offers that are attractive and, if possible, unique. This is especially true in our case, where “experience tourism” is one of our greatest strengths.
We cannot make out what the end goal of the presence of this spectacle at the stand’s inauguration could be. But what’s clear is that it does nothing to show off the Basquexperience that the department headed by Sonia Pérez claims to want to project.
Using cultural elements that are clearly from another region as the basis of the inauguration of this stand, and trying to frame it as a show of “plurality” is similar to serving as inauguration party refreshments ceviche, migas extremeñas, or Turkish delight, all to be washed down with a delicious California red.
The Basque culture that tourists want to get to know, that which will bring them to our country today, is not a pastiche of Basque culture with the cultures that have come and joined us. Rather it’s something quite different: the result of the incorporation of elements of those other cultures into Basque culture.
We do not deny that the combination of Basque and Andalusian elements displayed in Sonia Pérez‘s show do fulfill that objective. But what we do deny is that this should act as our calling card, as the magazine cover of what Basque culture can offer a visitor.
Can anyone imagine the Cádiz stand opening with an aurresku based on the fact that an importan Basque community has left a lasting mark on the Andalusian city?