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Spanish fly in the ointment

The economy may be in trouble and business may be slow in the pubs, clubs and off-licences but I believe it could be much much worse. At least we have the wherewithal and easy-come grace to make our tourists feel welcome and stimulating the all-important tourist market is everyone’s responsibility.

I’ve just returned from a short holiday in Spain, one of the world’s top tourist destinations – and I have to say, God help anyone in a tourist resort there.

For family reasons I’d to spend 10 days in one of the better ones in the Costa Tropical and can only report that the standard of service from restaurants there was nothing short of appalling.

They’re well used to tourists and treat them accordingly.

We were kept waiting up to 45 minutes in some outlets while the food ordered simply failed to appear in others.

Waiters argued the toss with us on a number of occasions when the wrong food order arrived and in far too many of the restaurants and tapas bars service was brusque and cold at best.

I, for one, will not be going back to Spain for a good few years.

But it also got me thinking that the Spanish hospitality trade is making that classic French mistake of taking tourist custom for granted. It’s a serious mistake to make. The French have lost the reputation they once had for food and service to which a plethora of food writers will testify.

The Spanish restaurant/tourist trade is about to go down that route too, I believe.

All of which makes it a joy to return to work to the hard-pressed Ireland and the Irish hospitality industry where service still reflects the fact that our customers are not taken for granted here.

We still treat our tourists as VIPs and genuinely hope that they enjoy their stay, if not harbouring the vague aspiration that they will return and return again soon.

Ireland is famous the world over for its friendliness and today, the quality of the food is equal to and in many cases far superior to what was on offer along Spain’s Costa Tropica.

We don’t get much right on this little island – but when we can get this aspect of service and quality right, it’d be a shame to let it slip through our fingers as so much else has done….

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