The huge Madrid tour fair FITUR is held next week – starting on Wednesday and running through Sunday 21st. This massive event, under the light of eighty two million foreign visitors to Spain in 2017 together with any number of Spanish holidaymakers (Catalonia, disappointingly bucking the trend following the political upheaval there), will be a temporary home to an expected 10,000 exhibitors, as 2017’s figures were ‘9,893 exhibiting companies from 165 countries/regions, 135,858 trade participants and 107,213 people from the general public’. A video from LaSexta says that there were – in the first eleven months of 2017 – 18 million Britons, 11.4 million Germans and 10.7 million French visitors (no wonder they forget about us foreign residents). Does Spain (with a population of 46 million souls) need more tourists – or merely more income from tourism?
International Adviser asks: ‘Will 2018 see the decline of British expats in the EU?’
‘The British press remember the demolition of the Prior’s home in January 2008’, according to La Voz de Almería here. Well, The Times does anyway (paywall), quoting Mrs Prior: ‘...“If we had believed that we had done something wrong, we would have saved the little money we had left to go back to the UK instead of spending our last savings on fighting. But we knew we didn't do anything wrong," says the 74-year-old...’.
‘Some 34 people are being investigated for building an illegal urbanisation complete with water, electricity and even swimming pools. Residents of Molino Hondo, a settlement in Morón de la Frontera, Seville, divided a huge swathe of ‘non-developable’ land into 30 different plots. They then installed running water and electricity, and even built swimming pools and new roads leading to the plots...’. From The Olive Press here.
‘Tripadvisor announced on Tuesday the winners of the Traveller's Choice Emerging Destinations Awards, and two Spanish cities have received mentions: Nerja (Málaga) and Cádiz. Nerja has broken into fourth place in the European ranking of emerging destinations...’ Cádiz is eighth. Gdansk in Poland is first. More at El Huff Post here.
From the foreign tour-operators comes the concern that Barcelona and Mallorca may lose tourism due to ‘saturation’ and ‘turismofobia’. El Independiente has more here.
El Mundo has the official figures for foreign visitors to Spain last year – 82 million came, and they spent 87,000 million euros.
Headline from El País: ‘Labour market situation. Almost 20 million temporary contracts made in a single year. 21.5 million commitments were signed in just 12 months, setting a new record for recruitment in 2017’ – but most of them – 90% - were temporary, sometimes as short as one hour. Statistically, these all count, but how many of them are really ‘jobs’?
‘Former Spanish government minister and one-time head of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo Rato, appeared in Parliament on Tuesday to defend his handling of the economy before the 2008 financial crisis and vehemently denied he had acted with criminal negligence. Rato, who had been Spain’s economy minister for eight years until 2004 and left his post as head of the IMF to become president of Bankia, a Spanish lender whose losses in the crisis saw it nationalized and bailed out for 18 billion euros ($24 billion), was answering questions from lawmakers...’. From the Latin American Herald Tribune.
El Español has the latest poll. The January vote estimation. It appears that the PP, PSOE and Ciudadanos are all neck and neck, with Unidos Podemos trailing behind. The same source here says that the PP leads comfortably with the ‘over 65s’.
A senior member of the PSOE – he stood as candidate for party secretary last year – has resigned from the party. José Antonio Pérez Tapies was on the left-wing of the PSOE.
Podemos. A name change? Maybe, says El Periodico here.
Headline from El País: ‘Spain disregards the Council of Europe's anti-corruption warnings. The country fails to comply with all recommendations on judicial independence and good parliamentary practice’. The article begins: ‘Spain does not comply with any of the Council of Europe's recommendations on judicial independence and the prevention of corruption in Parliament. Four years after issuing the first warnings, the European body for human rights and democracy on the continent notes that Spain has made little progress. The system for appointing judges and prosecutors and the access of lobbyists to deputies and senators are among the main shortcomings identified in a report released last week...’. El Diario helpfully offers ‘Eighteen examples of Spain's lack of commitment in the fight against corruption’. The story here.
From Deutschlandfunk: ‘Corruption investigations against Spain's Popular Party’. We read that ‘For ten years, Spain's authorities have been investigating the country's biggest corruption case. At the centre of the investigation: Rajoy's conservative governing party Partido Popular. It is about parallel accounting in the People's Party, illegal donations from building contractors and bribes...’. During a political talk on Cadena Ser, a Spanish journalist loses his cool: ‘..."How long have we been sitting here? 40 minutes? And all this time, we're just talking about Catalonia. The head of the police unit for white-collar crime in parliament has just declared the Partido Popular to be a kind of criminal organisation. I think that's infinitely more relevant. Once again, however, I note that a good patriotic story trumps everything else. It's a shame we're only concerned with Catalonia, while others take their money home in wheelbarrows."
JuntsxCat and the ERC have agreed to hold the investiture of Puigdemont in Barcelona, with the candidate himself appearing as a TV image (or maybe delegate someone to read his speech), says El Mundo on Wednesday. It seems doubtful if the Constitutional Court is going to let that one fly. The background to this, El País in English explains, ‘...Four members of the Catalan government that was ousted by Madrid authorities in late October over its illegal breakaway process remain in the Belgian capital, where they fled with dismissed premier Carles Puigdemont to avoid action by the Spanish justice system, which is investigating them over alleged rebellion. All four former ministers ran in a snap election on December 21 in Catalonia called by Madrid using emergency constitutional powers. The election yielded a mixed result: although the anti-independence Ciudadanos won the most votes and the most seats, the three separatist parties together achieved enough deputies for an absolute majority in the regional parliament, which is set at 68 seats out. Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya earned 34 deputies, Oriol Junqueras’ Catalan Republican Left (ERC) secured 32, and the far-left CUP won four. But because all four former ministers of the Puigdemont government have already said they are unwilling to return to Spain, where they would automatically be arrested in connection with the rebellion probe, they will be unable to vote in crucial parliamentary sessions such as the one that will elect the new premier or the members of the permanent council (la Mesa)...’. From El País in English late last week: ‘The Spanish Supreme Court refuses to release former Catalan deputy premier. Justices argue there is no evidence that Oriol Junqueras will not reoffend in unilateral independence bid’. A funny way to run a region. Mariano Rajoy has given the region until January 19th to announce their leader. The Local also explains the various complications here.
‘Judge Mercedes Alaya's extraordinary report on the lack of judicial independence in Spain’. the story and video at Kaos en la Red here.
The vote for British residents following Brexit, at La Opinión de Almería here.
The Spanish MEP Esteban González Pons made a speech in favour of the European union a few months ago, which has ‘gone viral’ says El Confidencial here. This excellent speech with English subtitles is here.
‘Andalucía has called for the EU to create a fund for European regions especially affected by Brexit. Officials have raised fears of the impact on tourism and Spanish workers who travel across the border to Gibraltar every day for work. According to its submission to a report by the EU’s Committee of the Regions, ‘58.7% of Spanish workers in Gibraltar will be affected’ by migration changes once Britain leaves...’. From The Olive Press here.
There will be a round table debate on Brexit and its impact on tourism held at the FITUR next week. Hosteltur has the details here.
LexTax Consulting (a legal office based in Jávea) looks at residency rights for Britons after Brexit here.
The latest audit figures from the OJD show that the leading dailies continue to sell fewer copies than ever before. El Español has the figures here. El País, El Mundo, ABC, La Razón, El Periódico and La Vanguardia now print less than 300,000 between them.
Two victims of falling revenues are the Tiempo and Interviu magazines. Interviu was the magazine that mixed interesting stories with plenty of nudes. Both were closed this week.
One way to keep the presses going is to court ‘institutional advertising’. The town hall of Mogán (Gran Canary) apparently gave La Razón 12,000€ to help choose that newspaper’s favourite resort on the Islands, says a waspish article in El Diario here.
The decision of China not to buy more used plastic from abroad has opened a crisis in Spain – there are around 40,000 tons of used plastic held in Spain at the moment. In 2017, a total of 57 ‘accidental’ fires helped reduce the huge amount stored in dumps. More here.
Shark-meat sold at the port in Vigo has been found to have a higher level of mercury than permitted for human consumption.
Tomatoes, peppers and other veggies must now, by law, be included in school and tercer edad meals throughout Andalucía in an effort towards healthy dining. More here.
Minus 20.8C in Cantalojas, Guadalajara on Wednesday morning: a Spanish record.
‘La Jonquera, the huge French brothel on Catalonian soil: one prostitute for every 10 inhabitants’. The investigation comes from El Español here. ‘It is the last village in Spain and a kind of theme park of prostitution for young people in the south of France, where brothels are illegal. Europe's biggest club is its main attraction. Stories from this attraction on the border with France have left countless episodes typical of a crime novel...’. Here’s an article on the Paradise Club in English called ‘El Dorado, or Sodom and Gomorrah’?
From sex to sects. In Spain, says 20 Minutos, there are between 200 and 250 sects – mainly based in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Maybe 1% of all Spaniards are members, it says.
A report from Tiendanimal quoted in El Mundo here puts the average cost of a pet - food, medicine, vet and a decent leash - at 1,200€ per annum. They say that we spend 780€ every year on food for each of our critters. Many owners, we are told, walk their dogs three times a day (or more).
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‘Four monasteries you must see on Mallorca’, from Eye on Spain. ‘Mallorca is home to more than hundred different monasteries that have been occupied since the early Middle Ages. Most of these monasteries have been built on top of mountains and hills because back in the 1300's, it was believed that living in a higher altitude would save you from plague and the Black Death that harassed Europe at this time...
You do a splendid job, and I, as a resident for many months each year since 1971, always find interesting subjects in your letters. Regards, Douglas.
‘Spanish Train’ with Chris de Burgh on YouTube here. I was humming this earlier...