A FOREIGN student who alleges she was racially abused because she was speaking Spanish in a Darlington pub has warned similar instances may put visitors off coming to the town.
Rocio Reinoso, 30, was enjoying a drink with a friend in the venue when she says she was approached by a woman who hurled abuse at the pair for conversing in their own language.
She said: "We were sitting quietly in a corner when a woman came over and suddenly started screaming and swearing at us, saying all sorts and telling us to stop speaking in our language because we were in her country and should speak her language.
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"She was really angry and it wasn't fair because we were there as customers, spending money and being respectful - we ordered our drinks in English, we were just having a private conversation in Spanish."
The tourism student warned such incidents could put tourists off coming to Darlington at a time when the town is trying to attract more visitors.
She said: "I've been to a lot of places in England and this is the first time I have been made to feel foreign and unwelcome.
"I don't expect places to change for me, I went into this pub because I wanted a proper English pub.
"It's not good for the town, it is bad publicity. A lot of British people come to my country and they are not required to speak in my language.
"Studying tourism, I know the importance of creating a good impression and people will not come back here to visit and spend their money if this is what they experience.
"I was with a friend I'd persuaded to come here and she'd spent all day shopping and enjoying the town but now she'll probably never want to come back."
Ms Reinoso and her friend were in the town to visit Harry Chown, from Hurworth.
He said: "I was horrified to hear about this, I've tried to reassure her it's rare and that the North-East is a friendly place, but I can't believe this kind of thing is still happening in 2014."