British migration to Spain challenges many assumptions about the distinction between migration and tourism. In Spain there are peripatetic migrants (who go back and forth in erratic or patterned ways), seasonal visitors (who spend their winters in Spain and the rest of the year in the UK), returning residents (who live in Spain but escape back to the UK during the heat of the summer), and full residents (who less regularly return to the UK). British in Spain blur tourism and migration in many ways. Most started off as tourists; they spend a lot of time with tourists because they live in tourist destinations, they often work with and for tourists, yet they emphatically insist ‘we are not tourists’.
On the other hand, Spanish academics, politicians, and other commentators often refer to North Europeans in Spain as ‘residential tourists’. This is a strange term that encapsulates a whole host of attitudes and expectations, actions and outcomes. Perversely, it also serves well to explain the tension British in Spain constantly experience between their lives as (and with) tourists and their lives (and aspirations) as migrants.
O’Reilly, K. 2009. Hosts and Guests, Guests and Hosts: British residential tourism in the Costa del Sol, in Obrador Pons, P., Travlou, P. and Crang, M. eds. 2008 Cultures of Mass Tourism: Doing theMediterranean in the age of banal mobilities. Farnham: Ashgate
O’Reilly, K. 2007 ‘Emerging Tourism Futures: Residential Tourism and Its Implications’ in C. Geoffroy and R. Sibley (eds), Going Abroad: Travel, Tourism, and Migration, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
O’Reilly, K. 2003 When is a tourist? The Articulation of Tourism and Migration in Spain’s Costa del Sol. Tourist Studies, 3(3): 301-317