Following on from last week’s editorial on ‘turismofobia’, we look at the difference between short term tourism and long term residence. Where the average tourist is in Spain for five days, where his holiday spend is largely retained by his tour-operator in his country of origin and where his loyalty towards Spain is low. By contrast, we who live in Spain as foreigners know full well that we are here for the long term, that we are more valuable to the economy and, as well, far more loyal to our locality than the tourists.
We may be a small nuisance in certain cases, but we are generally accepted for our spending power while quietly and benignly ignored by the authorities. We have no political voice beyond the frontier of our municipality and, following Brexit, we can presumably expect even less. Other European residents will also find themselves further isolated politically as the municipal ‘foreign’ vote is watered down. Will local politicians spend much time on issues that don’t bring any political return? Well, no.
Spain has never spent much effort on attracting settlers from elsewhere (unless they apply for a Golden Visa, whose first requirement is half a million euros). Fully half of Spain’s 8,000 municipalities are losing population, but there is no interest in reversing this trend through encouraging new home-makers. We could be the Florida of Europe, but it’s not a project that has any interest for the Ministry of the Interior. Meanwhile, Spain continues to debate how many tourists it can fit on the head of a pin... and for how many weeks in the year.
Lenox has written a piece on this en castellano in La Opinión de Almería here.
El Boletín says that renting a home is now 10% more expensive than it was a year ago.
Vera town hall (slightly apologetically) asks Helen and Len Prior for the 25,000€ costs in a case against the couple that the town hall won a few years back. Ideal explains here. The story is further explained in Lenox’ Spanish Shilling here.
From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight: ‘Here I briefly explain how to go about legalising unregistered property extensions, and the consequences of not doing so. ... Often, with a view to sell, property owners decide to make improvements or extensions to their Spanish properties to make them more attractive to prospective buyers. Adding an outbuilding in the garden next to the pool, adding a few additional guestrooms, adding a toilet, building a cellar with home cinema or an indoor heated swimming pool all sound harmless and like a great idea on paper. Surely these improvements add value to the property, making the prospect of selling them far easier, yes? The fact of life is that if these improvements are not carried out following the correct legal procedure they may become a perfectly good waste of money or even be counter-productive to selling your home...’.
You may want to cancel renting out your apartment, particularly if there’s threat of a large fine from the authorities – but, on the other hand, you may get a different large fine from the holiday rental company for your cancelation. As El Mundo says here – the owner can find himself between a rock and a hard place.
An amusing piece found at El País in English: ‘Sixteen unwritten rules of living in a Spanish village. There are no fines for disobeying these norms but failure to comply definitely won’t go unnoticed’.
Spain reports 3.6 million cruise passengers visited the country (assuming they all got off the ship) in the first six months of 2017 says El País here. The number is expected to rise to 8.8 million by the end of the year.
Europe’s most expensive docking fees for leisure craft is in Ibiza, says Expansión here. The site lists the ten most expensive marinas in the whole of Europe (thankfully, only two of these are in Spain).
Some restaurants, perhaps aware that their tourist customers won’t be back, however good the meal, have let their standards drop. El Comidista shows how certain establishments ‘set a trap for the foreigners’ here.
Air Berlin has declared itself to be insolvent after the majority investor (29.2%), the Abu Dhabi airline Etihad had announced that it will not continue to financially support the company. For the moment, the flights will continue thanks to a loan from the German government. More (in German) at Spiegel Online here. El Independiente says that Angela Merkel has now authorised a credit of 150 million euros to keep the company flying.
‘Spain’s labour unions have called for 25 days of strikes among members of AENA, the Spanish airports authority, to begin September 15. The announcement comes as security staff at Barcelona’s El Prat airport continue their dispute over pay and conditions, while workers at two airports in north-western Spain have threatened to stage partial stoppages. The country’s three main labour unions, the Workers’ Commissions, UGT, and USO had said earlier this week that they would call industrial action by Wednesday if AENA did not respond to its demands. AENA’s 8,200 employees are calling for pay rises of around 8%, as well as the hiring of around 700 people...’. From El País in English here.
From El Huff Post comes ‘The short-termism of the PP's neoliberal policies sees our tourism model as successful. And it has been, indeed, a success, but only for the big chains. The tourist model of sol y playa has a dark side. A dimension that tells us about bartenders who are paid two euros an hour, from waitresses or hotel cleaners who work under conditions of true exploitation, and we know of the outsourcing of services to reduce still further the already devalued working conditions. Our tourist model does not protect or preserve our natural environment; with its focus on seasonality and temporality, it offers no future for our young people, who must face many more working hours than is recognized in their contract (in the happy case that there is a contract) .... The high figures of the sector should not deceive us: the record figures of tourism in Spain are fed by the precariousness of the industry...’. The cartoon comes from El Jueves. The tourists say: 'Scusi, is there anything around here that's discreet and hasn't changed since the tourist boom began?' The waiter answers 'my wages'.
From The Guardian: ‘With the continent sweltering under a heat-wave nicknamed Lucifer, tempers have been boiling over, too, as a wave of anti-tourism protests take place in some of Europe’s most popular destinations. Yet, as “tourism-phobia” becomes a feature of the summer, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has defended the sector, calling on local authorities to do more to manage growth in a sustainable manner...’.
Wolf Street also looks at the ‘turismofobia’ phenomenon with ‘...for arguably the biggest driver of Spain’s economic recovery, its unprecedented tourism boom, which some local economists are finally beginning to call a bubble. In large part the boom/bubble is a result of the recent surge in geopolitical risks affecting rival tourist destinations like Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and, in smaller measure, France, which helped boost the number of foreign visitors to Spain in 2016 to a historic record of 75.3 million people — an 11.8% increase on 2015.
Based on first-half figures for this year, the trend is set to continue, at least for a little while longer. Between January and June 2017, 36.3 million foreign visitors came to Spain — an increase of 11.6% on the same period of 2016. But if recent developments are any indication, this year’s surge in visitors could well represent Spain’s tourist boom’s final swansong...’. The article later makes the following point: ‘...Many employers, in particular large hotel groups, have refused to raise salaries at all for their workers despite the eye-watering profits they’re making. All this is happening against a backdrop of soaring rents. In July rents in Spain increased year-on-year by 9.6%. The trend is most pronounced in the most popular tourist destinations like Santa Cruz de Tenerife (15.7%), Alava (15.6%), Barcelona (14.3%), and the Balearic Islands (10.1%)...’.
From El País in English: ‘The number of visitors to pilgrim site of Santiago de Compostela is rising but spending is going down’. Oh Dear no.
Of course, now the suggestion is ‘not more tourism, but wealthier tourism’. Hmmm.
‘When does tourism stop becoming an enjoyable activity and start turning into a burden?
Inhabitants of cities all over Europe are complaining about the devastating effects the increased number of tourists has had on their lives. Ranging from gigantic cruise ships ruining the romantic atmosphere of Venice to a rise in rents for houses on the Mediterranean coast or just the mountains of litter and endless traffic jams in major European capitals - these are just a few of the complaints that clearly tell politicians that the tourism industry really needs better regulation. What do you think? What can we do to turn tourism into an activity that’s good for both travellers and hosts?’ From Europe Together (they are having a big meeting in Valencia on September 15th ‘Investing in Europe’. More here.
Marbella is upset by cheap ‘Magaluf-style’ tourism, says El Confidencial here.
‘Intergenerational homes’ have now been approved by the Madrid ayuntamiento. Young people will be offered discounted rentals if they help to look after the elderly residents. Land has been found in Vallecas to build the first of these projects says El Diario here.
The City Hall of Madrid will reach the end of this year with an estimated 400 million euros less debt says El Diario here.
‘Savills agree €67 million fee for Spanish consultancy Aguirre Newman. UK-based real estate advisory Savills has agreed to a €67 million price tag to move forward with the acquisition of Aguirre Newman. The prominent independent Spanish advisory also operates in the real estate sector, and the deal not only absorbs a key competitor, but enables Savills to move forward with expansion into the EU market...’. From Consultancy UK here.
'Turismo=empleo'. The message comes from the Partido Popular to counter the growing unrest in the sector. El Español reports here. While, on the other hand, ‘The attacks on tourist interests have been hugely inflated – it’s like Pearl Harbour out there’, says Analdo Otegi, a senior EH Bildu politician. He says the reason is to politicise the situation... and then blame the far-left. More at El Mundo here.
‘Spain: 4,772 political parties and counting. In the last decade, the number of democratic organizations in Spain has doubled to reach record levels’. Headline at El País in English.
‘José Bernal out as Angeles Muñoz returns as Marbella mayor, many fear a return to ‘the era of darkness’’. Story at The Olive Press here.
From the right-wing La Razón comes ‘the majority of Catalans believe that the referendum will not be held. Support for independence is deflated: supporters drop by 3.5 points in a month, to 41.5%. 48.6% oppose that Catalonia becomes an Independent State and 56.5% believe that the Constitutional Court will stop the plans of the Generalitat’. An article dated 21st July in Vilaweb in English says the opposite: ‘According to a new poll by the official centre for opinion statistics (CEO in Catalan), some 62.4% would vote ‘yes’ in the independence referendum set for October 1. With a projected turnout of 67.5% for the vote, the poll says that some 37.6% of those taking part would vote against independence...’.
The referendum is due to be held on October 1st.
The ex-president of the Madrid Region, Ignacio González, has asked the courts to be freed from his prison sentence for corruption which he is currently serving, because he ‘doesn’t like it there’. El Confidencial has a chuckle here.
From The Guardian: ‘British retirees are rushing to settle in European countries such as Spain, Portugal and France before the Brexit deadline, according to financial advisers, believing that such a move will become significantly more difficult in the future. One company that supports those moving to mainland Europe after they finish working revealed that the number of monthly inquiries to its website had doubled in a year, while actual business was up by 25%. It came as experts said it was extremely unlikely that any post-Brexit deals with European countries would allow Britons to continue to move overseas in their later years as easily they can do now...’.
The first Spanish university in the ‘best of the world’, as decided by the Academic Ranking of World Universities produced by the Chinese University Jiao Tongde Shanghai, the Universidad Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, comes in at a dispiriting 239. The ABC is unimpressed here. Europa Press has more, including the World’s top ten universities here.
From BBC News: ‘Three times as many migrants have arrived in Spain so far this year compared to the same period in 2016, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says. It means the number of sea arrivals in Spain - at 8,385 - could overtake Greece, which has had 11,713 people. The shift may be because migrants are finding the Spanish route safer...’.
From Sur in English: ‘Spain has partially closed its land border with Morocco in an unprecedented move to combat an increasing surge of illegal migrants storming the frontier and overwhelming the border guards on duty...’.
From The Guardian. ‘The Tagus river, the longest in the Iberian peninsula, is in danger of drying up completely as Spain once again finds itself in the grip of drought. Miguel Ángel Sánchez, spokesman of the Platform in Defence of the Tagus, says “the river has collapsed through a combination of climate change, water transfer and the waste Madrid produces.” The Tagus, known in Spanish as the Tajo and Portuguese as the Tejo, rises in Aragón in northern Spain, passes close to Madrid and forms part of the border with Portugal before flowing into the sea at Lisbon. En route, it is dammed no fewer than 51 times in Spain alone...’.
From Diario Sur: Málaga’s taxi drivers agreed on Wednesday to put an immediate end to their strike.
From The Guardian: ‘Slow train through Spain: a narrow-gauge ride through España Verde. The Feve network is a long way off high-speed … which is perfect for taking in the coast, mountain views and charming towns of Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia’.
Your advice to head for the hills (to avoid Summertime coastal upheaval ) is sound. Many years ago we met a British widow up in the Sierra of Granada. She had let out her flat in Nerja for four or five weeks and had rented a room in a hostal in a village in the Alpujarras. Today things would be via Airbnb; in those days via the classified ads in The Lady.
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Business over Tapas August 17 2017 Nº 220
A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
With Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra
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