News from Andalucia, and the Costa del Sol
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AUGUST 24th - AUGUST 30th
RESTAURATEURS DEBATE THE FERIA
Màlaga restaurateurs headed by Rafael Prado, president of their local association, are to debate the lessons to be learned from this year's "Feria del Dia" held in the historic city centre. Many businesses were reportedly caught out by the even greater numbers of revellers who attended this year and are concerned that the massive numbers led to lack of control of events. Sr. Prado said the feria was "vital for tourism and the cultural image of Màlaga".
NERJA'S COLOURFUL NEW FOUNTAIN
There was much excitement among residents of Nerja this week, when a new fountain was inaugurated in the Plaza Cantarero. Completed under the council's tourism promotion scheme, the new fountain is five metres in diameter and boasts 12 water jets that change through a total of 60 different colours - all controlled by computer.
IT'S A RACKET
Benalmàdena's Mayor, Enrique Bolin, has announced a project to build a rackets sport centre in Avenida de Erasa at a budget of 72 million pesetas. It will be built on the site of the water purification plant in Arroyo de la Miel and should be operational in 10 months. Mayor Bolin also intends to enlarge and upgrade Arroyo's present sports complex to include three new halls for gymnastics, martial arts and keep-fit.
MALAGA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE UGES SMALL BUSINESS INTERNET AID
Màlaga Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter to the newly formed Technology Ministry in Madrid, requesting a grant of 90 million pesetas to help provide Internet services for local small businesses. The plan is to have at least 20 local firms sharing a Màlaga based e-commerce platform, and comes after interest was found in the subject from a survey of local businessmen.
The Chamber of Commerce's own website receives more visits from abroad and other parts of Spain than from Malaga itself. It contains daily updated information on the number of shops and businesses in the province and can be found in Spanish on www.camaramalaga.com.
KEMPINSKI GOES WILD
Estepona's luxury Kempinski Resort Hotel has teamed up with the nearby Selwo nature Park to offer a special tourist weekend package. Selwo has over 2,000 animals from five continents roaming free in enclosed areas that recreate their natural environment.
The package includes a night in a double room, breakfast, entrance tickets for a day at Selwo, a gift for each visitor, plus full use of the hotel's gymnasium and pool facilities.
The cost is 74,840 pesetas, free for children under 12 who share a room with parents. The offer runs from September 1 to November 7 and November 14 to December 25.
ONE INTO THREE
Estepona's "Day of Tourism" actually last three days and is organised by the Town Hall. It takes place from August 25 to 27 and includes gastronomic sessions, music and ballet. Full details can be found in the Costa Update pages.
MALAGA HOSPITAL MATERNITY WING UPGRADE
The Matron Hospital in Màlaga City is to have its maternity wing modernised and expanded from October. Hospital director Emilio Montenegro announced that the changes would see the introduction of new state-of-the-art equipment, increase the number of delivery rooms to 13, and allow husbands and partners to attend deliveries for the first time. The director also asked for patients' "tolerance" of the inconvenience caused by improvements to the wing during the six months of refurbishment. 190 million pesetas will be spent on the building work and 150 million on new equipment.
RURAL TOURISM UP
Figures released this week for visitors in July show a 10 per cent increase in tourism to inland Màlaga. Hotels and hostels in towns such as Antequera and Ronda were 80 per cent full over the month, with particular interest shown by Germans, Americans and Japanese.
A good display by the inland villages at the Hanover tourism fair is thought to be partially responsible for the increase demand, as is the high number of visitors to the many local area websites now established on the Internet.
Inland camping sites also saw more visitors, a pointer towards tourists tiring of crowded beaches. Activity holidays such as horse riding and orienteering have also proved popular.
HOLLYWOOD PRICES AT THE ALHAMBRA
The shooting of a film in the grounds of the Alhambra in Granada will set you back a cool 160,000 pesetas in hour, according to new tariffs set by the site's authorities. The price falls to 120,000 pesetas if you stay within the areas normally opened to the public. Photographic shoots for editorial or commercial use cost either 90,000 or 60,000 pesetas. Normal visits to the Alhambra have sold out every day so far for this August at the capacity of 8,000.
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT GOES ON THE WEB
Màlaga's provincial government has this week launched its own web page, designed to bring it into closer contact with the public. President Juan Fraile presented the page to the press, saying he was proud of what the government has done for residents in towns with less than 20,000 population He also commented that he did not think the construction of a second Malaga ring road would solve the city's traffic problems.
REGIONAL GOVERNMENT AID FOR MOROCCO
The regional government of Andalucia has announced it is to give 6,000 million pesetas in development aid to Morocco. Councillor Gaspar Zarrias said it was hoped to direct the money to projects intended to develop areas such as education, health, professional training and infrastructure work in the north of Morocco.
GIBSON IN LORCA HOMAGE
Irish author Ian Gibson, joined actress Maria Galiana (Winner of a Goya for her role in the film "Solas" last year) in homage to Federico Garcia Lorca last Friday, 64 yeas to the day of his death. The event of poems and readings took place at the Parque de Alfacar, thought to be the site of the murder of the Granada poet during the Spanish Civil War.
TRAVEL FIGURES SOAR IN MALAGA
Màlaga Province saw 1,632,570 vehicles on its roads over the mid-August bank holiday - a 5.3% increase over the same period last year. The traffic department said the figure was higher because the holiday coincided with the start of the Màlaga feria.
The number of travellers using Màlaga Port in this year's Operación Paso del Estrecho was also up at 37,109 - 49% more than in 1999.
Railways have also been busy, with 3.5 million travellers in the province in the first half of this year. Despite the high numbers, RENFE'S own market research has put Màlaga local services at the top of their customer satisfaction list. Local lines scored 8.15 points out of 10 for punctuality, cleanliness of trains and stations, safety, information and attention to the client. Trains in Càdiz came in second with 7.36.
SOTOCLUB SLIPS INTO ENGLISH MODE
Sotoclub, located on the exclusive Sotogrande urbanisation, is to take on English-style membership, in a bid to end the financial crises that plagued the club throughout the 90's.
Membership will be limited to 600, at an individual price of 1,300,000 pesetas, with each share based on the value of the club plus some projected refurbishment. One of the beneficiaries of this move will be Sotogrande SA, which will receive 10,000 million pesetas this year.
Meanwhile, over at Sotogrande's elite polo grounds, supermodel Elle "The Body" Macpherson, attend one of the recent tournaments. Miss Macpherson told journalists and admirers she has no intention of returning to the cat walk and would continue to make a career in the world of film. After two hours of interviews, she watched some polo and relaxed in the hospitality marquees.
Fuengirola railway station handled 498,190 passengers in the first half of this year. RENFE has increased its services by 20% to cater for summer visitors. From July 1, local bus company, Portillo has put nine new buses on the Fuengirola to Marbella route and increased services to Mijas.
MANILVA HOTEL BOOST
Two companies are investing more than 6,000 million pesetas in building two four-star hotels and luxury residential complex in Manilva. Umbela 4 SL plans a hotel of 150 rooms plus a 203 apartment block, whilst Duca de Urbino's hotel will have 280 rooms. One of the hotels will sited by Manilva's picturesque Castillo de San Luis.
CASTLE IN THE AIR
The historic Moorish castle which dominates the skyline of Jimena de la Frontera is to be refurbished by regional government, which will supply an expert team of two archaeologists, an architect and master builder. Initially the team will carry out a survey to establish what needs to be done to restore the entire structure.
Ronda Town hall has announced plans to refurbish the town's Arab Baths and improve access to the site from the town centre. The first phase of the work will permit access from Calle Real through an area known as Molino Alarcon. It is also planned to install viewing and seating areas at the baths.