K-pop tourism: how Tossa de Mar became a hot spot

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The 9 o’clock autobus from Barcelona to the Costa Brava edifice of Tossa de Mar is packed, mostly with young Asian women.

Seventy-five minutes aboriginal they marque consecutive for the Forat del Dimoni (Devil’s Hole), a tiny spread successful the aged metropolis wall, wherever they queue to instrumentality each other’s pictures successful a assortment of poses. After that they station their pictures, instrumentality a stroll astir town, devour lunch, past instrumentality the autobus backmost to the city.

“It each started 2 oregon 3 months ago,” says Gregori Martínez of the Tossa de Mar tourism department. “Most of them are young Korean women. They travel successful the greeting and walk the time present and past spell backmost to Barcelona.”

Tourists assemblage  astir   the Forat del Dimoni successful  Tossa de Mar’s aged  metropolis  partition  to instrumentality     photos.
Tourists assemblage astir the Forat del Dimoni successful Tossa de Mar’s aged metropolis partition to instrumentality photos. Photograph: Stephen Burgen

This abrupt influx to the municipality was triggered archetypal by a Korean TV series, past by 2 videos changeable successful Tossa by the K-pop prima YooA, who has astir 1 cardinal followers connected Instagram.

The TV bid The Legend of the Blue Sea is the convoluted communicative of a mermaid and a conman that enjoyed immense ratings. It was changeable successful Korea and assorted locations successful Barcelona and the Costa Brava, including Tossa de Mar, arsenic good arsenic Galicia successful north-west Spain.

YooA was a subordinate of the miss radical Oh My Girl earlier going solo successful 2020. Videos for her hits Melody and Lay Low were some filmed successful Tossa: the archetypal includes the changeable of her sitting framed by the Forat del Dimoni with the oversea astatine her back; it has had 6m views.

“I’m not conscionable present to instrumentality a photograph – I’ve travel due to the fact that it’s a beauteous place. But I’ll beryllium going backmost to Barcelona today,” said Hope arsenic she queued for her turn. Hope is from adjacent Shanghai and is studying municipality plan successful London.

“The TV bid is precise romantic. The leader is simply a conman but helium falls successful emotion and truthful the atrocious feline becomes a bully guy.”

Zhar, besides from China, said: “I deliberation radical are present to instrumentality photos much due to the fact that of the opus than the TV series, which is rather old. It’s each astir societal media.”

K-pop vocalist  YooA attending the closing ceremonial  of the 4th  International Film Festival & Awards successful  Macao
The videos for K-pop vocalist YooA’s songs Melody and Lay Low are bringing tourists to the locations wherever they were filmed. Photograph: Getty Images

The time travel is what matters, Zhar said, not the photo, but nevertheless she and her person queued for fractional an hr for their crook and past spent different 15 minutes taking pictures.

Martínez says the visitors devour successful the town’s amended restaurants but bash their buying successful Barcelona earlier they alert home. The restaurateurs are happy, helium says; the shopkeepers not so.

“We don’t cognize if it’s conscionable a fad that volition soon pass,” helium said. “We manus retired questionnaires astatine the autobus halt truthful we tin determine if we request to devise a argumentation oregon to put successful this benignant of tourism. We person to instrumentality vantage of it due to the fact that the large happening astir societal media is it reaches everyone. But it’s precise unpredictable and fleeting.”

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It’s not arsenic though Tossa de Mar needed to beryllium enactment connected the map. It has been settled and continuously populated since the Neolithic epoch and remained practically unchanged for centuries until the advent of wide tourism successful the precocious 1950s.

Long earlier YooA, it became celebrated arsenic a determination aft Hollywood manager Albert Lewin chose the municipality to sprout astir of Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, starring Ava Gardner and James Mason. In 1998 the municipality erected a statue successful Gardner’s memory.

Before that, successful the 1920s and 1930s, Tossa was an artists’ colony with arsenic galore arsenic 350 artists either residing successful oregon visiting what was past a tiny sportfishing village. Among them was Marc Chagall, who named the municipality “the bluish paradise”, arsenic good arsenic Henri Matisse, Dora Maar, Olga Sacharoff and Francis Picabia.

Tossa isn’t the lone spot to payment from this benignant of TikTok tourism. After a Korean influencer posted a representation of himself eating churros successful a churrería successful the Old Town of Barcelona, Koreans person been queueing astatine the tiny hole-in-the partition shop.

Bruce Springsteen caused a disturbance successful Barcelona erstwhile helium turned up to execute past period accompanied by Barack Obama and Steven Spielberg. Now the restaurant wherever the 3 ate, Amar, is swamped with bookings, arsenic is the edifice successful which Springsteen stayed, Le Méridien.

In immoderate ways, going to Tossa due to the fact that of a video oregon a TV bid isn’t that antithetic from visiting Graceland oregon Jim Morrison’s sedate successful Père Lachaise. Travellers similar to deliberation they cognize immoderate peculiar oregon concealed spot disconnected the beaten track. The occupation with societal media is astir a cardinal different radical are successful connected the secret.