News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week October 10th to October 16th
BRITISH TOURISM ON THE UP
Brit holidaymakers on the Costa del Sol increase by 11.7 %
By David Eade
THE NUMBER OF BRITONS JETTING INTO THE COSTA DEL SOL ROSE BY 11.7 PER CENT IN THE MONTHS BETWEEN JANUARY AND AUGUST OF THIS YEAR.
According to figures released by the Costa's tourism authority, a total of 1.4 million Britons arrived at Málaga Airport in the first eight months of this year.
The number of Britons jetting into Málaga Airport has shown a steady increase in recent years. In 1996 just 1.1 million arrived, compared with 1.8 million in 2001.
BUDGET AIRLINES BOOM
This year's figures should set a new high, and without a doubt the emergence of budget airlines such as Easyjet, Go and Monarch have boosted this trend.
The steady growth of the British tourist sector has helped the Costa overcome the drop in tourism figures from other countries.
DROP IN GERMAN TOURISM
The German tourism industry, which had also shown a steady growth in the past six years, is now showing a slight decline of two per cent. During the first eight months of the year only 385,984 Germans arrived at Málaga Airport in comparison with the 1.4 million Britons.
The number of Spaniards coming into Málaga has also dropped. The total for the first eight months is 759,073, down 6.4 per cent on last year.
VODAFONE FACES REGIONAL GOVERNMENT FINE
Company blames sabotage for loss of service
By David Eade
THE MOBILE PHONE COMPANY VODAFONE COULD FACE A MASSIVE 600,000 EUROS FINE FROM REGIONAL GOVERNMENT.
The Consumer Service has opened an investigation into a recent break in service, which left Vodafone users without cover for a period of more than five hours. The cuts hit the provinces of Málaga, Cádiz, Sevilla, Huelva, Córdoba, Jaén and parts of Extremadura, Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary Islands.
Vodafone insists that the cut in service was caused by sabotage to its optic fibre lines in Córdoba and Málaga. A spokesman for the company said that an official complaint had been laid before the courts relating to the acts of sabotage. However, the same spokesman was not able to give more details on the causes of the cuts, the number of uses affected or the cost of the breakdown.
Regional government is investigating Vodafone under the provisions of the 'Ley de Consumo'. The consumer law lays down the reference points on the conditions of quality of service and the obligation to indemnify customers for the lack of service during the recent cut. Vodafone has 10 days to answer regional government's action.
MYSTERIOUS CUTS INVESTIGATED
For its part Vodafone says it is investigating three cuts in three optical fibre lines in Málaga and Córdoba at Bobadilla and Palma del Río. The company says the cuts were made 'with much precision and in key spots' so as to cut the Vodafone network. Last June, Vodafone's rival Telefónica, also suffered a serious sabotage attack to 48 optic cables near Madrid which cut the service to more than half of Spain.
URGENT CHANGE IN CREDIT LAW DEMANDED
The national federation of consumer associations (FACUA) has demanded that Government urgently amends the Consumer Credit Law to protect customers in order for them have the security that the money or loan will be returned if the company fails to provide the product or service.
FACUA has been spurred into action after the recent collapse of the 'Opening' English language schools which left thousands of students who had taken out loans to prepay for courses out of pocket and the closure of the 'Start Up', information technology academy in Cádiz, by the Social Security. FACUA says the Government is eluding its responsibilities by claiming it is waiting for an EU directive before taking action.
Marbella students start legal proceedings
The students of the 'Opening' English language school in Marbella are to take collective legal action against the company's owners. Around 850 people had signed up for courses with the Marbella branch before the school closed without warning in September.
The students in Marbella have borrowed 1.1 million euros from various banks to fund their tuition. They met in the Palacio de Ferias y Congresos in Marbella at the weekend with representatives of the consumers' association. FACUA has been petitioned to draw up a collective legal action against the 'Opening' school in the civil and administrative courts.
MAJOR FLU VACCINATION PROGRAMME DELAY
Start date postponed due to shortage of vaccines
By Dave Jamieson
HEALTH CENTRES HAVE DELAYED THE BEGINNING OF THIS WINTER'S FLU INOCULATION PROGRAMME DUE TO A LACK OF THE VACCINE.
October 1 had been set as the start date for this year's campaign, but the launch has suffered a delay due to a lack of the vaccine. However, the Andalucían Health Service said that over 145,000 doses would become rapidly available.
Figures issued for last winter show that fewer than two per cent of citizens in Málaga province caught influenza, the vaccination programme having been fully effective in 80 per cent of cases, and having reduced symptoms in the remainder.
A WINTER FREE OF 'GRIPE'
This year sees an increase of 26,000 doses of vaccine distributed in the campaign, which will cost 3.5 million euros. The peak period for infection is expected to be late January and February, which the authorities are hoping will record, like last winter, an 'abnormally low' number of patients. The vaccination campaign is particularly directed at vulnerable groups, including the over 65s, children with long-term illnesses and medical workers.
MÁLAGA COCAINE RING SMASHED
Sixteen arrested for importing drugs from South America
By Dave Jamieson
A major drugs ring importing cocaine into Málaga has been broken up by the Guardia Civil. Sixteen people, including 10 Spanish citizens, have been arrested in Málaga, Murcia and South America during a year-long operation, named "Jericho", controlled by police in both countries. The gang, based on the Costa del Sol, recruited couriers from the provinces of Málaga, Sevilla, Madrid and Murcia, mainly from amongst the less well-off, to move drugs around. They brought in quantities of two to five kilos of cocaine from Peru, Brazil, Chile and the Netherlands, hidden in suitcases, for later distribution in Spain.
The detective operation began when Peruvian police intercepted a Spanish courier smuggling two kilos of cocaine, which prompted the temporary suspension of the network's activities. But drug movements began again in June when further arrests were made at Málaga and in Peru. The local operation, by the Organised Delinquency and Anti-drugs Team of the Guardia Civil remains open, and further arrests have not been ruled out.
MÁLAGA FOURTH MOST URBANISED PROVINCE
By David Eade
MÁLAGA HAS THE FOURTH LARGEST PERCENTAGE OF ITS LAND GIVEN OVER TO BUILDINGS OR URBAN DEVELOPMENTS IN SPAIN.
The province has 5.59 per cent of its surface area given over to urban use, which totals 408 square kilometres or 408 million square metres. Only Madrid with 10.4 per cent, Barcelona 9.3 per cent and Alicante 6.51 per cent exceed the Málaga totals.
The figures were announced at the recent presentation of the strategic plan for Málaga Province (Madeca 10). The document recognised the spectacular development of the Costa del Sol in recent years, which has resulted in urban congestion occurring in some municipalities. Rafael Rodríguez, the first vice-president of the Diputacíon de Málaga observed that the development in these municipalities owed more to private than collective interests.
In some of the municipalities of the Costa del Sol, the urban congestion has reached 'alarming levels'. For instance in Fuengirola 94.90 per cent of the available land has been given over to urban development and only 5.10 per cent is protected. This contrasts to the municipality of Casares, which has 4 per cent given over to urban land and 96 per cent protected.
Professor Federico Benjamín Galacho of Málaga University said that it was of little benefit for one municipality to have urban congestion whilst another had little urban land. He called for a regional body such as the provincial delegation or regional government to intervene. He also said that it was necessary for the town halls to have a better environmental conscience.
Levels of classification in other areas, include Málaga City with an urbanisation level of 13.35 per cent; Marbella with 53.77 per cent, Mijas with 65.42 per cent and Rincón de la Victoria with 27.22 per cent.
NERJA CLINIC IN REGIONAL DISPUTE
By Dave Jamieson
Nerja's Town Hall and the Junta de Andalucía are in dispute over the use of a dialysis clinic in the town. The debate centres on whether the building is or is not licensed to be used as tourist accommodation, in addition to being used a medical centre. The Mayor of Nerja, José Albert Armijo, closed the clinic in Calle Filipinas, close to Burriana Beach, saying that its licence to operate did not permit five flats above the clinic being rented to holiday makers, the understanding being that they would be used only by patients before and after treatment.
Local police had reported that, in fact, the building had not been used for any medical activity, but functioned simply as an apartment block. Last week at court in Torrox, one of the two representatives of the building's owner, Elmar Karg, issued a denuncia against the police, stating that the Junta de Andalucía had, in fact, authorised its tourism exploitation, and on Friday, the regional tourism and sports delegate, María José Lanzat, confirmed the authorisation to Nerja Town Hall. Now, Mayor Armijo has asked regional government to annul this, stating that it is in conflict with the town's General Urban Ordinance Plan which lists the building for use solely as a medical centre.