Thursday 23 January 2020

Tourists flock to Smurf village

Since filming the hillside village has become a huge tourist attraction. photo: Getty Images
Since filming the hillside village has become a huge tourist attraction. photo: Getty Images

Jolyon Attwooll

A Spanish village has had a dramatic rise in tourism since it was painted blue last year for the making of a Smurfs film.

The tiny Andalucian settlement of Júzcar (population 200) has received around 125,000 visitors after its striking makeover in June last year, its mayor told Sur.

“The number of visits is not going down,” David Fernández Tirado said. “Apart from colder, wintry days, it’s been quite the opposite – it’s continuing to spark a lot of interest.”

The residents voted to keep the facades of their houses the same distinctive hue in December last year, after realising the tourism potential of the village’s new look.

They needed to seek special permission from the regional government and the local bishop, as even the church was painted blue.

Previously, the houses were white, typical of the pueblos blancos of the Andalucia region.

Júzcar's initial transformation came when it was selected as a set for the film Smurfs 3D, which featured the singer Katy Perry and came out last summer.

Mr Fernández Tirado also reported that businesses were thriving as a result of the intense interest in the village, including souvenir shops and restaurants.

A ‘Mercapitufo’, or ‘Smurf market’, is still being held each weekend and on holidays, with up to 20 stall holders selling Smurf-related artefacts, and souvenirs, and culinary delicacies.

According to the newspaper, Júzcar now has an average of 2,000 visitors every weekend, about ten times its own population.

This number was even higher for the busy extended holiday celebrations of Easter Holy Week earlier this month.

The paint job has, according to the mayor, “boosted the local economy… the happiness, the business and employment prospects… and the popularity” of the village.

However, he also stressed that the blue makeover was not necessarily permanent.

If his neighbours wanted to change the colour of their houses back to traditional white, then another vote would be held, he told the newspaper.

“We’ll see how everything is going in a while,” he said.

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