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Madeleine McCann Used To Advertise Holidays In Praia Da Luz

5910966MADDIE WATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann:  Madeleine McCann is being used to advertise holidays in Praia da Luz, Portugal…

IN “The Algarve after Maddie” Laura Suter tells readers of Travel Bite, the site that “provides easy to find, useful information on destinations all over the world, so if you’re planning a holiday we can give you lots of ideas, tips, news and inspiration.”

Today you can be inspired about the Algarve, place of sun, sea, sardines and… Well, Laura has more:

In 2007 the newspapers were filled with the Madeleine McCann case and pictures of the four-year-old girl, now, two years on, press coverage has died down and the story is no longer front page news.

So why are you writing about the missing child, Laura? Why?

Laura Suter asks what happened to the town at the centre of it all when the disappearance happened?

In case you are thinking of booking a holiday in Praia da Luz, like Jasper Gerard or Donal McIntryre, TV detective?

Shortly after Madeleine’s abduction reports emerged that the former fishing village of Praia de Luz, which once thrived on tourism, was a ghost town, that cancellations had flooded in and the beach was empty.

Shortly after Madeleine McCann disappeared the town was heaving with people, mostly business travellers with expense accounts and deadlines. The place was booming.

Many families with children were dubious about going to the resort, while some felt that the police and media intrusion would taint their holiday. In the weeks following the incident the Mark Warner Club, which runs the Ocean Club where Madeleine disappeared, had a number of cancellations or families transferring to other resorts.

Anything to avoid the “gentlemen of the press”, grown men and women with cameras and recording equipment, looking iffy as they stand in the sun dressed in suit jackets and ties talking about paedos.

However, Cristina Teixeira, who runs Luz Holidays, which rents villas to many nationalities, said her firm did not see this effect. The company had two cancellations out of 300 in 2008 and even then “clients did not offer the Madeleine justification”.

So either Laura Suter’s story about a ghost town is plain wrong, people who rent with Luz are heartless bastards or ghouls, or Our Maddie is being used as an advertorial, a point of reference – a totem of local interest – for a holiday lettings company?

Chris Gladwin, 23, of Darlington, was one holidaymaker who braved the press reports and went to Praia de Luz just a few months after the disappearance, having pre-booked his holiday. However, he said that the break was not too different from a usual holiday – families flocked to the beach, the bars and restaurants were busy and toddlers played in the sand – albeit a little closer to their parents.

Anyone else feeling queasy?

Mr Gladwin added that going in 2007 was a little off-putting when the town was littered with posters of Madeleine and the hunt was still very much alive. “It was a bit hard to escape from the case and the media and it was talked about in many of the bars,” he explained, adding that the intrusion was not to the extent that it ruined the holiday.

Good-ho:

Ms Teixeira admits that the ‘Madeleine effect’ did concern some holidaymakers and that those with young children were perhaps put off in 2008 “and maybe some are a bit nervous but the effect has mostly disappeared now”.

Disappeared. Like Madeleine… And it’s about to get even better:

And, it seems it is hard not to be won over by Luz’s charm, with Richard Gaisford, a GMTV reporter who spent most of last year in the Algarve covering the McCann story, saying he liked the town so much he wanted to take his family back.

Oh, the cruel irony. But Laura has more. She has reached a conclusion:

So, it seems the recession may have had more of an impact than the McCann case and Ms Teixeira adds that if it is sea, sun and golf courses you are after: “Portugal generally, and the Algarve especially, has plenty to offer all holidaymakers.”

And – fingers crossed – you might even get on the telly, or in a glorified press release….

Spotter: Bat E Bird in the forums

Posted: 13th, October 2009 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (5)