News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week October 9th to October 15th 2003.
The inauguration of a new Buddhist Stupa saw thousands of people from all over the world gather in Benalmádena. Mayor Bolín as well as representatives from Royal House of Bhutan and the Karma Kayu President were present at the inauguration ceremony of the temple, which is the largest of its kind in the West.
COSTA HOUSING BOOM
Residential tourism brings over 22 billion euros to the Costa
BY DAVID EADE AND OLIVER MCINTYRE
IN THE PAST YEAR FOREIGNERS HAVE INVESTED 560 MILLION EUROS ON SECOND HOMES IN SPAIN, BRINGING THE TOTAL VOLUME IN THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS TO OVER 22 BILLION EUROS.
The figures were given by Javier Taberna, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, speaking at the first International Conference on Residential Tourism (Citures '03). The conference was held in parallel with the Andalucía Conference on Residential Tourism (Tures '03) at the Palacio de Ferias y Congresos in Marbella.
Sr Taberna told his audience that residential tourism is clearly expanding and is now a basic segment of the Spanish economy. He pointed to statistics from the World Tourism Organisation indicating that Spain is the most popular tourist destination after France.
However, Sr Taberna also singled out 'sustainability' as the principal challenge faced by this property sector. He indicated that it is critical to take into account such concerns as whether parts of the region have the capacity to absorb the growth in population and cope with environmental impacts.
The president of the organising committee for Tures '03, Pedro Rodríguez, spoke of the need for public administrations to become more involved in supporting the tourism-related real estate industry. Sr Rodriguez went on to add: "Not everything can rely on private initiative - we need a more significant co-ordinated effort by institutions to carry out domestic and international promotions on a simultaneous basis."
The Junta de Andalucía's Tourism and Sports delegate for Málaga, Carlos Bautista, pointed to a European Commission study indicating that around two million Central Europeans will take up residence on the Costa del Sol in the next 10 years. He estimated that some 800,000 families will arrive in the province of Málaga, and described the average newcomer as a professional between 30 and 35 years old, with a medium to high level of education, and with one or two children.
STRIKING A BALANCE
Sr Bautista highlighted the importance of striking a balance between residential tourism and regular hotel-oriented tourism, noting that 'there is room for both'. He also announced that regional government's approved Plan General de Turismo has a budget of 573 million euros through 2006, with the goal of promoting tourism and carrying out policies to support the industry in a sustainable manner.
PROSECUTOR SEEKS LIFTING OF RESTRICTIONS ON VÁZQUE
Investigations into Tony King continue and spread to additional crimes
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
THE PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR EARLIER THIS WEEK SUBMITTED A MOTION REQUESTING THE LIFTING OF RESTRICTIONS PLACED ON DOLORES VÁZQUEZ, PREVIOUSLY FOUND GUILTY FOR THE 1999 MURDER OF 19-YEAR-OLD MIJAS TEENAGER ROCÍO WANNINKHOF.
Sra Vázquez was placed on conditional release from prison earlier this year when the higher courts annulled the trial in which she was convicted for the killing of Rocio Wanninkhof, ordering a retrial, which was set for October 14 but has since been indefinitely postponed. The postponement of the trial came after DNA evidence linked the Mijas murder with the killing of 17-year-old Sonia Carabantes in Coín, and the subsequent arrest of Tony Alexander King, who confessed to both murders.
Prior to the prosecutor's request to lift the restrictions, Sra Vázquez had to physically report to the court each week, could not leave the country, and had to maintain a 30,000-euro bail deposit. Despite the request to lift the restrictions, the prosecutor did not concede to a formal removal of charges against Sra Vázquez, stating that such a move would still be 'immature'. Sra Vázquez's lawyer, on the other hand, has requested a complete dismissal of the case.
THE 'KING INVESTIGATION' CONTINUES
Meanwhile, authorities continue with their investigations into Tony Alexander King (formerly Tony Bromwich, a.k.a. the Holloway Strangler), both in regard to his involvement in the Coín and Mijas killings and as a possible suspect in other attacks on women on the Costa del Sol and in England.
Three women on the Costa have accused him of assaults that occurred between 1999 and 2002, and Scotland Yard is investigating Mr King in relation to several British killings, including the 2002 murder of 13-year-old Milly Dowler in Surrey.
POSSIBLE GREEN LIGHT FOR SAN PEDRO UNDERPASS
BY DAVID EADE
Central government has allocated 1.1 million euros in the 2004 budget in order to start the long-awaited underpass at the N-340 blackspot in San Pedro de Alcántara. The money has been transferred from this year's budget but the move has still left local resident-action groups suspicious of the Government's intentions.
The people of San Pedro have been waiting 12 years for the underpass to become a reality. In 1998 the Council of Ministers declared it to be a project of public interest but to date no action has been taken. The local residents' association welcomes the central government's decision, but points out that the project has been included in the Partido Popular administration's budget since 2000 but there is still no underpass.
The underpass through San Pedro would run from km 169.1 to km 174. The total cost of the project is estimated at 24 million euros. However, the PP government has made it clear that the project will only proceed when the Marbella town planning ordinance (PGOU) has received the approval of regional government.
MIJAS ADDRESSES DONKEY ISSUE IN FACE OF PROTEST
Animal group claims 'burro taxi' donkeys suffer abusive conditions
By Oliver McIntyre
MIJAS TOWN HALL ANNOUNCED LAST WEEK THAT IT HAS SIGNED AN AGREEMENT WITH EL REFUGIO DEL BURRITO, A DONKEY-PROTECTION GROUP, TO HELP ENSURE THE PROPER TREATMENT AND CARE OF THE FAMOUS 'BURRO TAXI' DONKEYS THAT ARE USED TO RIDE TOURISTS AROUND THE TOWN.
The announcement came just days before a planned protest by another equine-protection group, the Sociedad Española para la Protección de los Equinos (SEPE), which has been a vocal critic of what it calls abusive treatment of the Mijas donkeys. According to a SEPE statement, "all the major animal charities have received well documented cruelty reports over the years."
According to the Town Hall, the agreement, signed by Mayor Agustín Moreno and El Refugio President José María Rodríguez, expresses the municipality's commitment to regulating the 'burro taxi' service and ensuring the proper treatment of the animals, including appropriate hygiene, working conditions and general care. The agreement also calls for El Refugio del Burrito to provide two veterinary check-ups on the burros each year. In addition, donkeys that can no longer be used as 'burro taxis' due to age or health problems will be retired to a farm run by El Refugio in Fuente de Piedra. El Refugio's parent association, a British group called The Donkey Sanctuary, currently houses some 4,000 animals on nine different farms, according to the Town Hall.
SEPE NOT CONVINCED
Despite the Town Hall's announcement about the agreement and its plan to create new ordinances to regulate the 'burro taxis', SEPE went ahead with its protest on Friday of last week. When contacted by CDSN, a spokesperson for SEPE said, "Until we see the agreement in writing, with all the conditions, we're not convinced." She said SEPE's previous attempts to convince the Town Hall to address the conditions of the donkeys had been ignored, and that the group does not believe Mayor Moreno is committed to the welfare of the animals. According to a statement issued by the group after the protest, "a spokesperson for the council informed SEPE that no details of the new operators code were available and did not have any idea how it would be enforced."
ECOLOGISTS OPPOSE OJÉN ASPHALT PLANT
NEWS Staff Reporter
The environmental group Ecologistas en Acción has condemned a plan to construct an asphalt-manufacturing plant in the Llanos de Puzla zone of Ojén. The ecologists claim that the land designated for the construction of the industrial site is listed as of being of environmental interest and is included in the Nature Network of the EU.
A statement issued by Ecologistas en Acción complained that the proposed installation of the plant confirms once more the desire of the regional government and Ojén Town Hall to consolidate on the site of ecological interest several industrial activities that adversely impact on the environment.
The environmentalists pointed out that in the municipality of Ojén there was a similar situation at the end of the 1990s, when there were plans to use the same zone for a macro waste-processing plant for the Association of Western Costa del Sol Town Halls.
Furthermore, the ecologists stated that the Town Hall cleared a site of pines in the Llanos de Puzla to open a new quarry. The group fears that installing such a plant at the head of an enormous water aquifer of the Sierra Blanca is a risk of "huge consequences."
NERJA ACCUSED OF PROMOTING ILLEGAL FISHING
Natural park row between town and region enters new territory
BY DAVE JAMIESON
NERJA TOWN HALL IS GIVING FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO LOCAL FISHERMAN WHO HAVE BEEN FINED BY THE JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA.
In a move seen by some observers as evidence of a growing rift between local councillors and regional delegates, cash has been awarded to some of the town's fisherman who have been prosecuted by the Junta for fishing illegally, but who now risk imprisonment by being unable to pay the sanctions.
In one case revealed last week, a family was given 360 euros by the Nerja Town Council in July to help pay a 600-euro fine imposed for illegal fishing off the town's coastline, after he proved that all three members of his family were unemployed. In response to the news, the Junta's Agriculture and Fishing delegate, Ignacio Trillo, denounced the move, calling it "illegal" and questioning the soundness of Nerja Town Hall in encouraging illegal fishing. Some local residents have also raised eyebrows at the payments, one referring to them as an "insult to other citizens." However, Nerja's councillor for Social Services, Carmen María Cereto, said the pay-outs had been authorised by Mayor José Albert Armijo on condition that the money be repaid in the future. She said the majority of those fined were approaching retirement and in such a situation it is necessary to "lend a helping hand."
However, Nerja's action is being seen by some as evidence of the increasing acrimony between the Town Council, which has a PP majority, and the PSOE-ruled regional government. The Junta's stance on the cliffs in the Maro - Cerro Gordo natural park has been at the heart of their differences, with last year's decision by Ignacio Trillo to prohibit vehicular access to the park's beach causing fury at the Town Hall. The row was fuelled again last week when Sr Trillo paid a visit to the park to announce that the programme 'Natural Life', which aims to ensure the preservation of the area east of Nerja, has been presented to the EU. He said that the object of the 1.4-million-euro project, funded 75 per cent by the EU and 25 per cent by the Junta, is to encourage the regeneration of sea life, and to protect the flora and fauna of the area, partly through restricting vehicular access.
The following day, however, Nerja's councillor for beaches, José Miguel García, criticised Sr Trillo for failing to install 'ecological islands' for rubbish collection in the park, and for failing to grant the park the same rights as similar areas in Almuñécar, where parking is not prohibited as it is in the Maro - Cerro Gordo park.
MÁLAGA GEARS UP FOR PICASSO MUSEUM OPENING
King and Queen expected to attend opening ceremony
By Dave Jamieson
WITH THE MUSEUM IN HONOUR MALAGA'S MOST FAMOUS SON NEARING COMPLETION, PICASSO FEVER IS GROWING IN MÁLAGA.
The Royal opening of the new Picasso Museum is now less than three weeks away, and the city is undertaking urgent improvements to the façades of 20 neighbouring buildings in six streets. The 875,000-euro project around the Palacio de Buenavista, where the new museum will be inaugurated by the King and Queen of Spain on October 27, is being complemented by work to improve gardens, lighting and general cleanliness.
Meanwhile, Andalucía is continuing to promote the city's new attraction at home and abroad. A delegation from the region was in Japan last week explaining how the collection of over 200 works by the Málaga-born artist will quickly join the list of international museums most visited by tourists. The public advertising campaign with the slogan "Picasso Returns" was launched locally on October 1 and will continue until November 9. Television commercials link Picasso to his home city, showing symbols of his life and work, and are being screened throughout Andalucía, supported by newspaper and magazine advertising and posters on hoardings and buses. The Junta de Andalucía has permitted its well-known logo to be transformed "for the first and only time," according to Culture councillor Carmen Calvo, allowing it to be altered into a Picasso-esque style for the campaign. The advertising will spread nationally and internationally, with space booked in The New York Times and Le Monde, as well as in specialist publications. The campaign promotes the fundamental idea: 'Picasso is returning, returning forever; Picasso is returning to Málaga'.
Plans for the opening of the museum are also taking shape, with events planned from the night of Friday, October 24, when all Málaga's citizens have been invited to a huge party in the city centre. At midnight, entering the opening minutes of October 25, the 122nd anniversary of Picasso's birth, the celebration will officially get underway. Later that day, the artist's daughter-in-law, Christine Picasso, who, with her son, has donated many of the museum's exhibits, will give a press conference alongside Junta de Andalucía President Manuel Chaves, while the evening will see a special 'corrida' at the city's bullring. The centre point of celebrations will come at midday on Monday, October 27, when the King and Queen will attend the museum's opening ceremony and tour the display of Picasso's works before attending a reception in the Alcazaba. In the evening, the singer Enrique Morente will perform at a grand dinner.
THE PRICE OF PROGRESS
However, it is not all good news for the capital. Property prices in the area of the museum have rocketed, with sales now at around 12,000 euros per square metre and shop units being rented at more than 4,000 euros per month.
BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME
By Oliver McIntyre
Thousands of people from all over the world made the pilgrimage to Benalmádena for Saturday's inauguration of the town's new Buddhist Stupa, a large, domed structure that serves as a shrine for followers of the Eastern religion. People came from places as far flung as the Ukraine, Hong Kong, Nepal, the United States, Canada, Sri Lanka and Peru for the official opening of the Stupa, the largest of its kind in the West, according to the Karma Kayu Cultural Association, the group behind its construction. The estimated attendance of the event was over 3,500.
The inaugural celebration kicked off at 10:30, as Benalmádena Mayor Enrique Bolín and Karma Kayu President Margarita Lehnert welcomed a host of notable international guests of honour. Included among the officials in attendance were His Excellency Lompo Sangye Ngodnpo, representing the Royal House of Bhutan; His Holiness Shamar Rinpoche; Carmen Calvo, head of the Junta de Andalucía's Culture Department; and a variety of other diplomatic representatives from Spain and abroad. There were also many Buddhist monks from Nepal and Bhutan.
Dancers and musicians, also from Nepal and Bhutan, performed the traditional Himalayan rites necessary for the spiritual inauguration of the Stupa. Dozens of other Nepalese and Bhutanese artisans had spent months preparing the interior decorations of the shrine.
The 33-metre-tall Stupa, topped with a golden cone visible from all along the Benalmádena-Fuengirola coastline, was built on a 4,000-square-metre plot of land provided by the Town Hall for the project. Construction was financed jointly by the Town Hall and Karma Kayu. The Benalmádena Stupa is the second such structure in Spain; the other is located in nearby Vélez-Málaga in the Axarquía.
BUSINESS SAYS YES TO RONDA GOLF COURSES
NEWS Staff Reporter
Not everybody in the Ronda region is against the development of the proposed golf courses in the Serranía. Despite major protests by residents of the zone concerned about the effect the golf courses will have on water supplies, local business leaders have decided to voice their total support for the projects, which they see as being vital for the development of the region.
The director of the Small and Medium Sized Business Association of Ronda and Campillos, Francisco Troya, stated that the projects call for low-density construction on over eight million square metres of land and reflect a sustainable development strategy. He noted that the golf projects are preferable to other large housing projects that call for more than 1,000 units with balconies that invade the street.
With that rationale, Sr Troya said he is able to defend the construction of the golf course and various buildings at Majaco whilst attacking the developments now taking place on Ronda's old feria ground. He said that businesses are showing their clear support for initiatives with important economic investment, as long as they comply with the law and its planning, building and environmental conditions.