The big blue-green eyes of Madeleine McCann haunt millions of missing-child posters across Europe and around the world. She vanished on May 3, 2007, days before her fourth birthday, while on a holiday with her family in the Portuguese resort town of Praia da Luz. In spite of a massive international hunt she hasn’t been seen since. Now, on the first anniversary of her disappearance, sites linked to the McCann case have become ghoulish tourist destinations.
Pamela Fenn, who lives above the nowinfamous apartment 5A rented by Madeleine’s parents for that fateful vacation, is horrified that the area is drawing crowds. “It’s sick, you get loads of them,” she says. “Can you imagine wanting to come and do that? They stand outside the apartment and then in front of the window with their children and have photographs taken.” While at the resort, they troop over to the nearby tapas bar where Kate and Gerry McCann ate the night of Madeleine’s disappearance.
According to residents, the sightseers are usually Spanish or Portuguese holidaymakers. Café owner Ricardo Silva says they usually ask the same question: “Where is Madeleine’s house?” After taking snaps of the now-famous buildings, they go to the local church, where the McCanns prayed for their daughter’s return. A commercial Madeleine tour appears to be operating. A resort employee saw dozens of people get off a bus and then do the rounds en masse. “They were mainly Portuguese,” he told the Daily Mail. “I would love to find out who is organizing it so we could ask them to stop.”
Little wonder that Gerry McCann, who recently spoke of the “torture upon torture” inflicted in the last 12 months, is said to find the tours “offensive and hurtful.” M
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