News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week May 1st to May 7th 2003.
BRIT TOURISTS BACK AGAIN
Market recovers after the downturn suffered in March
By Dave Jamieson
TOURISM AUTHORITIES ON THE COAST HAVE CONFIRMED THAT THE BRITISH TRAVEL MARKET HAS RECOVERED TO THE LEVELS REACHED PRIOR TO THE IRAQ WAR.
Just three weeks after the fall of Baghdad, summer bookings have increased, and it now looks like numbers will in fact go up with regard to last year. During March, sales of package tours to Spain fell by 16 per cent, although Greece and Turkey fared worse, while Turkey was bottom of the league with a 70 per cent drop. Now, the Costa del Sol tops Spanish destinations with reservations up 16 per cent overall, a turnaround which belies the sector's favourite phrase of recent weeks, 'The market is dead'.
An even larger increase is anticipated once April's figures are finally added. Of five and a half million holiday bookings made in Britain since the end of March, almost 46 per cent are to Spanish destinations. In contrast, tour operators see no improvement in the German market which is said be 20 per cent down on last year. Traders in Torrox Costa, which has one of the highest percentages of German residents and holidaymakers in Spain, have talked of their worst season ever.
A recent report shows that overcrowding has replaced the condition of beaches as tourists' top complaint. Annual statistics, published last Thursday by the Observatorio Turístico, reveal that traffic congestion, construction work and overcrowding are the factors which last year caused most dissatisfaction amongst holidaymakers.
However, the report adds that only seven per cent of those surveyed cited these factors, while 42 per cent reported no cause for complaint.
SUPPLY OUTSTRIPS DEMAND
The main conclusion, however, is that supply is outstripping demand. While the volume of accommodation increased by six per cent last year, visitor numbers only increased by 0.14 per cent. Tourists arriving on the Costa del Sol have increased from 5 million in 1996 to 8.3 million last year, but the figure is almost identical to 2001's total.
Ana Gómez, head of the Costa del Sol Tourism Board, recently expressed her views on the need of moratoriums being called and felt that supply and demand were not growing 'at balanced rates'. She finished on a warning note: "To continue growing uncontrolled and without a clear long-term strategy is unsustainable."
JIMENA MUSIC FESTIVAL PROGRAMME READY
By David Eadee
THE PROGRAMME FOR THE THIRD JIMENA INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL TO BE HELD BETWEEN JULY 11 AND 19 HAS BEEN FINALISED.
The events will take place at the Convent of Los Angeles, Llano de la Victoria and in the plaza de la Constitución. In addition there will be a concert by dancer Antonio Canales at the Cortijo Román on July 18.
The festival will be open on July 11 with a concert by the Manuel de Falla orchestra at the Convent. This will be followed at the same venue by a performance by renowned Portuguese pianist María Joao Pires accompanied by Ricardo Castro. The same night the singer Martirio will entertain at the Llano whilst Enrique Morente will be seen in the plaza.
During the following eight days, the schedule of events includes a variety of flamenco music and dance performances including Tomatito and la Línea's David Morales. Portuguese singer Mariza will sing fados while the award winning pianist Anna Vinnistkaia will also perform an extensive programme.
In addition there will be a peace music workshop in San Pablo de Buceite, an exhibition dedicated to poet Rafael Alberti plus a traditional Andalucian market. The festival will close on Saturday July 19 with a magnificent fireworks display from the walls of Jimena's Moorish castle.
JIMENA GOES TO LISBON
As this year's festival has a strong Portuguese theme a delegation from Jimena has travelled to Lisbon to launch the event at the city's Cervantes Institute. Included in the party are a number of Jimena's foreign residents who have given much time and effort to make the first two music fests such a huge success.
BUENAS NOCHES RESIDENTS CUT N-340
By David Eade
AROUND 50 PEOPLE, INCLUDING MANY FOREIGN RESIDENTS, WHO LIVE IN THE BUENAS NOCHES URBANISATION, HAVE BLOCKED THE N-340 BETWEEN ESTEPONA AND SABINILLAS FOR THE SECOND TIME WITHIN A MONTH.
The protest action was carried out due to the decision by the Ministry of Public Works to remove the nearest roundabout to their urbanisation.
The residents acted on the day that the first of the heavy machines moved in to demolish the roundabout. They blocked the N-340 for two hours in the afternoon causing extensive tailbacks in both directions. The protestors' actions were met with criticism from the delayed motorists but the residents are adamant that they will continue to protest until the roundabout is reinstated.
The people of Buenas Noches claim that they were not consulted about the removal of the roundabout. They now estimate that they will have to travel an additional two kilometres to gain access to their urbanisation. To travel to Estepona some residents will first have to drive to the next roundabout in Casares and then double back again.
The president of the residents' association, Lola Virto, said they had written to the Director General of Roads asking why his department was changing the layout of the N-340 dual carriage between Estepona and Guadiaro just eight months after it was first opened. However, despite the protests an excavator and four lorries have started the removal of the roundabout.
OLD MARYMAR HOTEL TARGETED FOR DEMOLITION
The Benalmádena building now serves as a home for seniors
By Oliver McIntyre
The Ministry of the Environment's Dirección General de Costas has announced that it wants to tear down the old Marymar Hotel building in Benalmádena Costa, which, under current law, is illegally situated on 5,000 square metres of public beach property. The hotel, built during the frenzied development of the 1960s, was acquired by Unicaja in 1981 and converted into a home for the elderly. The proposed demolition of the hotel comes as part of Costas' year-old campaign to remove what it defines as 'illegal' buildings from the country's beaches. The Marymar would be the first building in the province of Málaga to be removed.
According to the Dirección de Costas, the removal of the hotel would allow the extension of the Paseo Marítimo beachfront promenade and improvements to the structural integrity of the Santa Ana and Arroyo de la Miel beaches. Benalmádena Mayor Enrique Bolín says the extension of the Paseo Marítimo would be a benefit to the town, but he has not taken a firm stance on the issue, saying that it is a matter to be settled between Costas and Unicaja, whose foundation runs the home for seniors in the building.
Around 40 elderly residents live in the hotel year-round, and the summertime population of the building jumps to nearly 100. The residents of the building are against its destruction, and they have found a supporting voice in the Izquierda Unida (IU) party, which successfully lobbied against attempts to remove the building in 1994.
MARBELLA IN TOWN PLANNING CHAOS
Illegal buildings face demolition
By David Eade
WITH LESS THAN A MONTH TO GO BEFORE THE LOCAL ELECTIONS, THE GIL ADMINISTRATION IN MARBELLA HAS SUFFERED A MAJOR BLOW AT THE HAND OF THE COURTS WHO HAVE SUSPENDED THE REVISION TO THE TOWN PLANNING ORDINANCE PASSED BY THE GIL ADMINISTRATION ON DECEMBER 4, 2000.
This judicial decision supports that made on March 13 by the Andalucian Supreme Court. It leaves in the air more than 400 urban licences issued by three teams of government at Marbella Town Hall since the GIL party came to power in 1991. It also backs the stance of the regional government, which has considered a large proportion of the building licences issued by the Marbella administration as being illegal.
Part of Marbella Town Hall's defence against the original decision by the Andalucian Supreme Court was that that body had not taken into account a municipality's right to grant permissions within its own boundaries. However the Supreme Court ruled that the lesser court had not ignored that right but had taken into account the fact that Marbella's town planning ordinance did not have the approval of the regional government.
The regional government's councillor for public works, Josefina Cruz, said that some of the illegal situations could be normalised with a new town planning ordinance. However, there are other urban actions that have produced irreversible damage and it is likely they will have to be demolished.
Sra Cruz added that it would be up to whatever party wins the elections on May 25 to negotiate with the regional government to find the solution 'to a very complex situation'. She pointed out that hundreds of illegal municipal licences would have to be reviewed.
The decision of the Supreme Court will also impact on the cases already before the courts in which the former Mayor, Jesús Gil, the current Mayor, Julián Muñoz, and other councillors face charges relating to town planning offences. Various cases before the Málaga criminal courts have been suspended but are now set to proceed. If the GIL team are found guilty they face lengthy prison sentences.
NEW CABLE PLANNED UNDER THE STRAITS
News Staff Reporter
A second electricity supply cable between Spain and Morocco running under the Straits of Gibraltar could be a reality within three years. The president of the Spanish Electricity Network (REE), Pedro Mielgo, said this second link would strengthen the electricity supply system in Spain in general and in Andalucía in particular and eliminate the risk of cuts due to generating problems. The new cable link would duplicate the existing one between Fardioua in Morocco and Tarifa which was set up to allow the exchange of electricity between both countries in 1995. Sr Mielgo stated the supply in Andalucía was 'very solid'" but if there were problems with the system then electricity could be sent from Morocco.
If a decision were taken to add a second cable the budget, is estimated at 18 million euros of which eight million would be funded by Spain and 10 million by Morocco. The cost would be less than the first cable as the sub-station at Tarifa would handle both cables and also use the underwater infrastructure beneath the Straits of Gibraltar that could also accommodate the second cable.
NERJA COASTAL WALKWAYS TO EXTEND
And beaches to offer improved safety for bathers
By Dave Jamieson
THE MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT LAST WEEK GAVE THE GREEN LIGHT TO THE PROJECTS TO CONSTRUCT WALKWAYS AROUND THE EL SALÓN BEACH, AND IN THE EL CHUCHO AREA EXTENDING FROM THE RUINS OF THE OLD LOOKOUT TOWER TO THE MOUTH OF THE RIVER CHILLAR.
The total cost will be 400,000 euros, and its hoped that work will be licensed to start by the autumn. Municipal technicians say that construction of the Paseo around the El Salón beach, 250 metres long with a width of five metres and similar in design to the existing walkway at Los Cangrejos, will be particularly difficult. Access will be through the narrow calle del Tajillo, which leads off the Balcón de Europa and is Nerja's oldest street, dating back 500 years to the construction of a coastal castle which was destroyed by English forces during the War of Independence.
MARKER BUOYS FOR BEACHES
Meanwhile, the waters off Nerja's beaches are being equipped with marker buoys indicating the exit and entrance channels for boats and other users. The councillor responsible, José Miguel García, said the measure was taken to protect bathers in the light of an increasing number of water-based sports activities, including motor skis and windsurfing. The buoys, which will mark channels 50 metres wide for general use, with special access points reserved for the use of Civil Protection units, will be retrieved after the summer for use again next year.
It has also been revealed that other Axarquía municipalities, including Torrox, Algarrobo, Vélez and Rincón, will not enjoy such safety measures this season due to problems in the applications made by their Association to the Junta de Andalucía. Nerja was included in the joint application, but also made a separate, individual application was has been approved.
GUADALHORCE CRACKS DOWN ON ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTIONLE
By Oliver McIntyre
In the last three months alone, Cártama Town Hall has identified and taken action against 80 illegal building projects. According to Town Hall data, the vast majority of the unlicensed construction is taking place on rural properties, where non-Cártama residents are building weekend or vacation homes.
Cártama's crackdown on such unlicensed construction projects comes as part of a running battle against illegal building in the Guadalhorce Valley. During the last two years, Alhaurín de la Torre, Alhaurín el Grande, Pizarra and Cártama have all intensified their vigilance and enforcement of building laws, identifying over a thousand unlicensed construction projects.
In Cártama, the identification of an illegal building project results in an immediate halt to the construction work, removal of building materials, and fines starting at a minimum of 600 euros. In many cases, the owner of the property may be able to work with the Town Hall to legalise the project and then resume work.
MUSLIM HUMAN REMAINS DISCOVERED IN ESTEPONA
By David Eade
The Heritage Department of Estepona Town Hall has announced a new find of human remains in Calle San Roque. The discovery was made on a plot of land being excavated for the construction of a housing development. All building work has now been halted, as the historic site is protected by the town's planning ordinance.
Experts stated that they have found the remains of up to 50 people. The remains were buried in simple graves, with all the bodies facing towards Mecca, in the Muslim tradition. The graves lie within the boundaries of the known Muslim cemetery of Estebbuna, which dates back to between the 13th and 15th centuries.
The municipal archaeologist, Ildefonso Navarro, said that the first discovery of skeletons and other items at the site was not made until the late 1990s. He explained: "It was only then, with access to fragmented information, that we could start to establish that it was the cemetery of a Hispano-Muslim town." Sr Navarro also noted that the cemetery was originally situated beside a road that ran from Estepona to Gibraltar.