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Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (Nº 219)
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Business over Tapas (Nº 219)

By Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner - Sent by José Antonio Sierra (CCLAM)

11AGO17.- 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 - For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com - email: businessovertapas@gmail.com - ***Now with Facebook Page (Like!)*** - Note: Underlined words or phrases are links to the Internet. Right click and press 'Control' on your keyboard to access. - Business over Tapas and its writers are not responsible for unauthorised copying or other improper use of this material.

Editorial:

Tourism brings untold wealth and a huge number of jobs to Spain – yet there are now some voices raised against this summer onslaught.

Hotels often use the ‘all-inclusive’ plan, which means that the clients can drink and eat for free – within their hotel. The bar round the corner may not be too pleased, but it won’t be a member of a wealthy gremio: an association, a guild really, of powerful businessmen with ‘friends in high places’. The hotels, whether all-inclusive or not, not only set the standards for tourism (being, as it were, the owners of ‘expert opinion on all matters to do with tourism’), they also frown on anyone who stays in any establishment that isn’t one of their own.

While we wait for a caution for putting up friends in our guest bedroom, we already have fresh, stringent rules in place against short-term rentals. Leading the rentals is the Airbnb company, which puts your apartment or spare room on its books. The level of attack against this service is intense, with daily press stories bemoaning the opening up of guest-rooms to a different kind of visitor, and income to a different kind of small businessperson. In the Balearics, apparently, you can get a 40,000€ fine for renting your place to tourists. Meanwhile, a story this week in El Independiente talks of 50,000 Airbnb offers in Ibiza, 20,500 in Barcelona and over 16,000 in Madrid – money that the hotels simply aren’t getting. And tourism is big business, not for spreading unduly around.

Seventy five million tourists visited Spain from abroad last year, and many millions more Spaniards also hit the beaches or the museums or perhaps went off to see their relatives in their pueblo. One way or another (with this heat), a lot of beer was drunk.

In some cases, following the beer and perhaps the consumption of other stimulating products available on the street corner, damage was done to the local infrastructure. Someone being sick in the garden, some kids playing their music loud around the pool, a street light wilfully broken. Ten young people sharing (and destroying) a two-bed apartment... The residents don’t like this behaviour: the trickle-down of tourist money never makes it to them. Only the noise, the queues, the inconvenience and the hassle.

How much money does tourism bring to Spain? 16% of Spain’s GDP apparently comes from the visitors. But not much of that makes it to your particular pocket if you are a waiter. An article in Iniciativa Debate talks of twelve hour shifts, seven days a week work (the owner only declares four) for 700 euros per month. The same source looks at room cleaners who get just 1,50€ per room. It talks of summer rent increases from 500 to 900 euros and asks: ‘Do you suffer from turismofobia’?

So, as we see in El Español, we get groups of people, or extreme left wing gangs, or simple graffitists, or perhaps some fed-up burgers, who have had enough. They start complaining about the hoards of visitors and put up posters or graffiti of the ‘tourist go home’ variety as they start to make their presence felt. Several groups in Mallorca, says El País, have now taken to putting stickers on rental cars: ‘Este coche sobra’ (we don’t need this car here). An article in El Confidencial says ‘we are not against tourists; we are against greed within the industry’. The Government, for its part, has gone as far as to threaten a harsh reaction to anyone who practices anti-tourist activities.

Some of the tourists aren’t very happy either, with new (rather pointless) procedures at the airports adding long impatient queues for holidaymakers. What is this? Our money not good enough, they ask. The Olive Press talks here of ‘Why you may have to queue for four hours at Spanish airports’ (It’s as bad as getting into Gibraltar!).

Tourism brings jobs and wealth, but it also brings inconvenience, rental hikes, vandalism and – sometimes even airport strikes. Like most things in life – there’s the good and the bad. Our advice: head for the hills!

Housing:

From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight comes ‘Spain dominates international property search from the UK’. We read that ‘...Rightmove records more than two and a half million Spanish property searches made from the UK each month. To put that in perspective, searches for property in Spain are 70% more numerous than searches for the second most popular European destination France. Spain is the number one target destination by far...’.

Coastal sales dominate, says El Mundo with a map of all sales in 2017 by province here. Essentially, there are two types of real estate markets in Spain (1) Foreigners and second homes. (2) Ordinary Spaniards buying a dwelling near where they work.

The Blackstone deal has gone through with the Banco Santander, making this the ‘largest property deal in the history of Spain’, says El Mundo here. The deal is 51% of the junk property held by the Banco Popular (recently acquired by the Santander) to the ‘vulture’ fund for a sum above 5,000 million euros. Blackstone is thought to control about 100,000 dwellings in Spain. Reuters also reports on the operation here.

Tourism:

‘Spain is well on track for another record tourism year after welcoming 36.3 million tourists in the first half of 2017, a 11.6% increase from a year earlier, according to the Tourist Movement on Borders (Frontur) survey, released by the National Statistics Institute...’. Found at The Corner. (Since there are no controls at the land frontiers... these numbers are, of course, agreeably vague).

‘The amount of British holidaymakers travelling to Spain has almost doubled over the last 20 years. According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics today, Spain is the top UK holiday destination, with 12.9 Britons visiting last year, up from 6.9 million in 1996...’. Found at The Olive Press here.

The Baleares have now announced a legal limit on the number of tourists to the islands at any one time, says El Mundo here. The limit, between hotels and other accommodation, is to stand at the peculiar figure of 623,624.

‘Senseless tourism bashing. If attacks against the sector are not stopped, they risk destroying a vital economic motor’. Editorial here at El País in English.

TripAdvisor is losing its reputation, apparently, with some restaurateurs preferring to hang the company sign in their lavatories... Preferente gleefully washes its hands here.

Seniors:

We return to ‘collaborative housing’ with Buena Vibra here. It begins: ‘Collaborative housing: more and more people choose to grow old with friends. The spaces where the older adults have individual homes but share common spaces are already a trend in Europe and the United States. ... It is a model that advances throughout the world, thanks to greater longevity. It is a residential model known as "cohousing" or "covivienda", and proposes a way of life that encourages values of solidarity and mutual collaboration between people living in proximity to each other. What is cohousing? Although this Anglicism (Collaborative Housing) may seem distant in our latitudes, the truth is that the concept begins to be well known. How many times have we heard during Sunday's family meal, or perhaps over a few beers in the bar: "What if we were to retire together?"...’.

Finance:

The AVE is 25 years old this year. How is it doing, asks El Mundo here.

‘It’s a common problem across the length and breadth of Spain. According to the Spanish daily ABC, of the 1.7 million job contracts signed in December last year, over 92% were for temporary jobs. In April, 28% of the new jobs created had a contractual duration of less than a week. Of the new jobs, 43% lasted less than a month...’. A quote from Wolf Street writing on ‘The Dark Underbelly of Spain’s Jobs Recovery’ here.

Who is behind the 222 million euros to be spent on transferring a football player called Neymar from Barça to Paris Saint-Germain? El Diario introduces us to the Qatar Sports Investment Group here. Hacienda, says Cinco Días, doesn’t get a penny from the deal.

Bankia is in the news again, this time after it was revealed that the bank charges 96€ to the family of a deceased customer. More at Noticiero Universal here.

Politics:

The CIS poll is giving Pedro Sanchez’ PSOE a welcome boost. Figures show that the socialists at 24.9% are only four points behind the PP (28.8%). Story at El Mundo here.

The new American ambassador to Spain is a wealthy horse breeder who speaks both Spanish and Catalán. David Buchan is a keen supporter of the American president. More at El Mundo here.

From El País in English comes: ‘Spanish PM plans to meet with Donald Trump at White House in September’.

Gaspar Llamazares and Baltasar Garzón have registered a new left-wing party called Actúa. Do we need one? The story at El Mundo here.

The El Cano Royal Institute examines the weakness of the Spanish far-right here.

An interview with Ann Pettifor, director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics, appears in El Boletín here. She says ‘Since 1971, we have been governed by bankers; not effectively by politicians. But we know how to change that’.

Business over Tapas:

Let’s get some more readers for Business over Tapas. Tell your friends! Subscriptions for what can only be described as proper and useful news about Spain are cheap enough (just 20€ for the rest of 2017). For regular posts, you can join the Facebook page here.

Catalonia:

The Spectator has a go at explaining the Catalonian situation here: ‘Catalonia’s quest for independence takes another surreal turn’. The article is really more of an attack on Mariano Rajoy and ‘his shredded political reputation’. After discussing the Gürtel Inquiry, the article winds up with ‘...(Rajoy’s) morning in the witness box was a PR disaster for this party and a gift for the secessionists in Catalonia, who can use it to further attack his credibility as an upright defender of Spanish law. Justifiably so, because it is no longer credible for Rajoy to play that role...’.

‘Why is Catalonia the Spanish region pressing hardest for independence? A promised referendum on the future of the ‘comunidad’ is deepening tensions with Madrid’. An essay at El País in English explains here.

El Español says on Tuesday that there will not be a referendum on October 1st, as the Catalonian Government has not called for one in time (the legal window closed on Monday). However, several sources quote (for some reason) Google to say that the vote will duly take place on the date indicated (here) and (here). Finally, El Mundo says that the Catalonian Govern has now formally confirmed the date while claiming victimhood from Madrid. The paper also but also says that the Constitutional Court will anyway suspend the event and its possible result. A Catalonian friend of the BoT says that the Madrid government simply doesn’t dare arrest the ringleaders of the Catalonians.

Courts:

A farmer has been handed prison time of six months for planting his own seed (and saving 102 euros by so doing). The Union of Smallholders says the sentence for re-using his own seeds is completely disproportionate. It certainly sounds so.

A judge has ordered the search and capture of Juana Rivas, a Granada mother who disappeared with her two children after her husband, an Italian citizen, was granted sole custody of the children by the court. She claims he is violent. Many people have placed a sign in their window which reads: 'Juana is staying here with me'. A tragic story that has yet to come to its sad conclusion. See El Español here. An article here on what happened to other mothers in a similar position...

Brexit:

‘Spain will not “endanger” the UK’s Brexit deal by forcing a change of Gibraltar’s status, its foreign minister has said. “I won’t make a deal between the EU and the UK conditional on recovering sovereignty over Gibraltar,” Alfonso Dastis told Spanish conservative daily ABC...’. Story at The Independent here.

Media:

What does the foreign press say about Spain? Analysis from the El Cano Royal Institute.

‘Sweden said on Tuesday that it was working to assist a Swedish-Turkish journalist detained in Spain after Ankara issued an international arrest warrant, as alarm over press freedom in Turkey grows. Hamza Yalcin was arrested on August 3 at Barcelona's El Prat airport and is being held while a court decides whether to extradite him or not, Spanish police told AFP.

According to media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Turkey accuses him of "terrorism."...’. From The Local here.

Various:

‘If you've spent any amount of time reading up on healthy foods that can offer significant boosts to your physiological and mental well-being, you're almost sure to have come across the Mediterranean diet. This famous (and yummy) mix of vegetables, fruit, fish, and whole grains – served with a liberal splash of olive oil – is common in cultures around the Mediterranean Sea, and has long been recognised for its broad nutritional benefits...’. But wait. A peculiar article from Science Alert says that it ain’t necessarily so.

The bug that attacks the agave plants is the Picudo Negro. Here’s his webpage.

‘Most Brits only manage to learn three words of Spanish – paella, sangría and cerveza’ – says an unkind article here at Trotamundeando. So why don’t the Brits learn to speak Spanish – laziness, chauvinism, the ‘island mentality’ perhaps? Cruel stuff.

Granada has gone over 855 days without its train service and this is affecting business, says El Independiente here.

A funcionario has been fired in Valencia. Yes, we were surprised as well. It seems this one hadn’t turned up for work once in ten years. The story is at El Mundo here.

From Almería, a pro-plastic farming video ‘Un Mar de Razones’. A friend of the BoT who works in the invernaderos says that, in reality, there is over 700,000 hectares under plastic.

See Spain:

A photographic visit to the fifteen national parks of Spain with El Mundo here.

From The BBC (video) ‘The tiny Spanish town luring top designers. Ubrique (Cádiz) is beautiful yet remote. Despite the difficulty in reaching the town, some of the world's best-known designers come here to get their leather products made. Why are brands so keen to have items made here? And how can Ubrique ensure its artisans remain ahead of the game?

Letters

Hi Lenox

Glad you had a good time in Portugal, sometimes you need to stand back to get things into perspective.

I totally agree with your remarks about Spain, you can hate it but you can’t help loving it.

You may remember that years ago much to the dislike of some of the Spanish the Tourist Board had the strap line “Spain is different!". Irrespective as to what some Spanish may think it is as true today as it was back then. Gracias a Dios.

Regards John

Hi Lenox

Pleased you enjoyed Portugal.

We go quite a lot in summer and it is such an amazing breath of fresh air right?

The people are so polite compared to our Chums at home, civilised even.

Finally:

Kaoma: the Lambada (1989) here. The singer Loalwa Braz was murdered horribly in Brazil earlier this year.

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