Albert Llorca is a graduate of philosophy, who between 1999 and 2014 was professor of the sociology of leisure and tourism at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Some ten years or so ago, Prof. Llorca offered his views on the raising of children and trends in education.
At the age of 61, as he was in 2011, the professor observed that there was a “serious problem of education, starting with the family and ending with public institutions”. There had been a “certain protectionism” towards children, excessively so, which had been occurring for many years. The consequence was excusing and justifying everything.
Parents were not setting guidelines for their children. As a result, and in public places, children were acting in ways that parents thought were normal but were not. Other people were therefore rejecting this behaviour. “I don’t want to have to put up with this.”
Old school the professor may have been, because of his age, but he wasn’t advocating a return to a sort of seen but not heard era. Basically, Prof. Llorca was arguing the case for good manners and consideration of others. People were now “surprised” when they came across an “educated child”. A generation previously, and the ill-educated child had been the exception.
Note what he was professor of at that time. It was the tourism sociology angle that led him to be quoted in the tourism media, and in particular because, ten or so years ago, there was a big debate going on about a growing aspect of hotel and tour operator market niching - adults-only hotels. Without saying whether he was for or against these hotels, Prof. Llorca offered a pretty good case for the defence. “I don’t want to have to put up with this.” Not him but anyone.
The arguments about adults-only hotels have continued over the years, and they resurfaced in Alicante in October last year, when the Facua consumers association called on the Valencia regional government to fine a luxury hotel for publicity which left no one in any doubt that the hotels was for adults and no one under a certain age - taken as sixteen but in reality likely to be somewhat older. The hotel’s website announced that the establishment was a “space for adults only, where they can rekindle the senses and achieve full well-being”.
It in fact stated that part of the charm was that it was for adults only. Such overt promotion led the association to conclude that the hotel was acting in a discriminatory manner, and it cited Valencia government January 2021 regulation of tourist accommodation forbidding discrimination for reasons of sex, nationality, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, family group, sexual development, functional diversity or disability, religion or beliefs, political ideas, poverty, language, aesthetics, body or any other personal or social condition or circumstance.
The hotel in question has now been forced to remove advertising regarding adults-only and it will no longer be able to decline guests under the age of sixteen, Facua having established that it was when attempting to make a reservation via an online travel agency. Meanwhile, the Valencia government has made it pretty clear that there can be no discrimination for any reason.
National law is also pretty clear. Hotels do reserve the right to admission but this is only meant to be limited and to not extend, for example, to age. In Mallorca, however, one can find examples of marketing where the age is stated - 16+ or 18+ only.
I can understand this, and it isn’t just for the kinds of reason that Professor Llorca was referring to a decade ago. It is the marketing, as in a hotel/tour operator offers a product for a particular segment and creates a hotel environment with this segment in mind.
At one level, I see nothing wrong with it, and arguably the law is out of touch with marketing trends. However, one can equally argue that this would mean a form of permitted discrimination: adults only or women only, but it would never be, could never be certain nationalities or religions only. Permitted discrimination could never be written into tourism law (or any other) as it would run counter to all principles of equality,
It has been suggested that the Alicante case may have set a precedent. But as it is under Valencia legislation, arguably not, except in that region. This said, there is national law - in principle at any rate - while the Alicante case, at the very least, might be construed as introducing some legal uncertainty.
The arguments, I daresay, will continue, but just in concluding, there is one criterion in the Valencia legislation that I had missed out - “enfermedad”, disease or illness. Fair enough. But which ones? And do they come with a vaccination certificate?