Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (N.º 415)

Business over Tapas (N.º 415)

  • A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: Prepared by Lenox Napier. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra

jueves 30 de septiembre de 2021, 15:36h

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Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has celebrated World Tourism Day with an international observance on September 27.

Monday was World Tourism Day.

We suspect that the date comes from when, in a Good Year (without bombs, disease, civil unrest or a better offer from Turkey), the tourists have filled up the souvenir shops and hotels with credit card transfers, and by now have largely gone home again.

Oddly, we don't have a Residents Day, when the Residents are honoured for spending their money all year long.

Our calculation is that just one resident is worth to Spain the equivalent of one hundred tourists (we buy a house, a car, pay taxes and drink and eat all year long). We also try not to be sick in the neighbour’s garden or stay up until five in the morning singing boisterously, making us – in theory – more welcome than the brief swarms of care-free visitors.

So, ten thousand of us, no more, would be worth a million tourists, yet take up a lot less space in the village fiesta.

Most of our money comes from outside Spain and, between one thing and another, we take few jobs away from the Spaniards.

The thing is, we don't spend our dosh in souvenir shops, or in all-inclusive hotels. Which is why the subject of the foreign residents is largely ignored.

So how much effort does Spain spend on attracting full-time residents?

Is there a department, a ministry, a budget?

How about promoting those small and forgotten towns in the lost provinces, they could use some fresh blood?



From Spanish Property Insight here, there are less British buyers following Brexit. ‘The British have long been the biggest group of foreign buyers of property in Spain. Back in 2007 they were 43% of the foreign market, and as recently as 2015 they had a market share of close to 25%, according to figures from the Association of Spanish Land Registrars. But in the second quarter of this year that market share dropped to 9.5%, just a nose ahead of the Germans on 9.04%. Indeed, this year the British market share has dropped to its lowest level since records began…’.

From a new news-site in English called Reporters here, ‘The AUAN appears before parliamentary commission to discuss the new planning law for Andalucía’. It begins, ‘On Monday 20th September representatives of the homeowner’s association, AUAN, appeared before a cross party commission in the Parliament of Andalucía in Seville to comment on the proposed new planning law for Andalucía, known as the LISTA. The AUAN was among a list of invited “social agents” and was represented in the hearings by its legal advisor Gerardo Vázquez and its spokesperson, Maura Hillen…’.

Spain takes top spot for UK expats but pensioners warned tax issue can 'catch people out' says The Express here. ‘Spain remains a firm favourite for British expats, with official Spanish figures showing there are now more than 360,000 British residents registered in the country (the INE claims 262,885, but nobody really knows). Many retirees dream of moving to Spain for its sun and relatively lower cost of living and while demand took a hit in 2020, Britons are set to flock to Spain over the coming months again. With this in mind, pensioners have been issued guidance on what to watch out for’.

A ‘Conversation’ following the article from one correspondent reads: ‘My sister and brother in law have moved back from Spain because the Spanish government made them feel unwelcome following Brexit. Apparently other ex-pats they know have done the same’. Note: Express readers are not noticeably pro-Europe.

Bildu deputy Oskar Matute looks at the current okupa alarm, with ‘the false data and lies that accompany the issue’. Parliamentary video on YouTube here.


New France and Spain low-cost Ouigo train routes announced. The Connexion (France) here has the details. ‘…After introducing a line between Barcelona and Madrid – which has proven popular, with 500,000 passengers since it was introduced in May 2021 – SNCF is also set to expand its Spanish Ouigo network. In spring 2022, the existing line will be extended to Valencia and Alicante, followed by Seville, Malaga, and Cordoba in 2023. The number of train carriages operating on the network will rise from 38 to 50, with the new carriages holding extra passengers. Existing carriages will be renovated with new seats, plug points for each passenger, and spaces for bikes added between 2025-2027…’.

Hundreds of train services across the country have been cancelled as workers belonging to Spain’s national rail provider Renfe go on strike. Here’s everything you need to know about the strike which starts on Thursday September 30th. Renfe will cancel a total of 892 passenger train services during the first four days of this latest wave of train strikes in Spain.

This includes services on September 30th and October 1st, 4th and 5th, but excludes weekends…’. More at The Local here.

The infuriatingly hard-to-consult National Institute of Statistics publishes an annual demographic, which last year claimed 262,885 Brit residents (here), plus a further 1,735,413 EU foreign residents (here). If we understand it right – in July, 555,183 Brit tourists visited Spain for an average of around eight days (here), spending an average 1,190€ (as to whether than includes money that stays outside Spain, including flights, is beyond us). The international tourist market is recovering, says the Government’s La Moncloa website here.


The ERTE (Spanish furlough plan) will continue through February 2022. elDiario.es has the details here. The ERTE allows companies to stop paying their employees without firing them while a public fund takes over and covers most of their salaries.

The Minister for Social Security and pensions Jose Luis Escrivá had to back-pedal after his weekend remarks that people should continue in work until they are 75. In fact, the age for a full pension will rise to 67 in 2027. ‘My words were taken out of context’, he says.


A day late following the birth of the volcano in La Palma, Pedro Sánchez eventually got to New York. From El Español here: ‘Pedro Sánchez alerts the UN General Assembly that Democracy is under threat. He says, "Democracy is the only alternative to any drift towards totalitarianism, exclusivity and intolerance"…’. Pedro Sánchez was in New York last week (September 22nd). With video.

Pedro Sánchez advocates removing the headquarters of some public institutions from Madrid as a way to face the demographic challenge’ says Europa Press here. Following from a suggestion by the president of Cantabria, Miguel Ángel Revilla, in a meeting over employment held on Monday in Santander. The article says. ‘…Sánchez said he agreed to the proposal in favour of decentralization and he stated that the Government is willing to transfer the headquarters of some public institutions from Madrid to other territories, in addition to also strengthening the infrastructure network and taking advantage of the "window of opportunity" represented by the European Funds (the Recovery Plan for Europe here) "for the well-being and progress of all territories"…’.

It might have contributed towards defusing the Catalonia issue if Madrid had have transferred a ministry or two to Barcelona some time back.

The Partido Popular is currently holding their convention in Santiago de Compostela. From El Español (Tuesday) we read: ‘The most important message on the first day of the PP convention was left by the host, Alberto Núñez Feijóo (president of Galicia Wiki), in a discussion held with the vice president of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas. "We have never governed", he told Ms Schinas, "with those who do not believe in Europe" in a clear reference to Vox.

Following from some ill-behaviour in-and-out of Parliament, elDiario.es lists the most divisive politicians (at least, the right-wing ones).

Dirty politics – a far-right politician attacks on Twitter the deputy mayor of Madrid Begoña Villacis (Ciudadanos) for supporting the rights of women to an abortion. The tweet included a picture of a recent photo of Ms Villacis as she left the hospital with her new-born child in her arms. The title chosen by Cadena Ser: ‘"It's the lowest I've seen, don't use a photo of my daughter again": Begoña Villacís explodes against Vox’.


From El País in English here: ‘The former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont is released by the judge after his arrest last Thursday (September 23rd) in Sardinia. The politician, who is also a Member of the European Parliament, has been living in Belgium since fleeing Spain to avoid detention for his role in the 2017 secession attempt…’. 20Minutos reports that Puigdemont, following his release a few hours after his arrest, told reporters that ‘"Spain never misses an opportunity to make a fool of itself"’. The Catalonian miscreant is now back in Brussels.


From El País in English here: ‘UK threatens no-deal scenario for Gibraltar due to plans for Spain-run border controls. Minister Wendy Morton (UKGov) says the government is working on a “non-negotiated outcome,” arguing that the European Commission mandate on the British Overseas Territory undermines its sovereignty’.


Europe’s high energy prices, explained by The Corner here. ‘The continent faces a perfect storm involving accidents, depleted reserves and decreased Russian supply. Electricity prices are hitting records across Europe. In Portugal and Spain, wholesale energy prices have tripled from half a year ago to €178 per megawatt-hour. Italy is not far behind at €176. Dutch households without a fixed-price contract could end up paying €500 more this year. In the UK, prices peaked at €247 per megawatt-hour earlier this week…’.

elDiario.es says that the fuel problems in the UK – as everyone knows except the British – are down to Brexit.

From this past Tuesday 28th September 2021, if you are driving a UK registered car in the EU, including Spain, you will need to display a UK sticker on the rear of your vehicle instead of the GB sticker’. Details at Visit-Andalucía here.

The Coronavirus:

The Covid Resilience Ranking. The best and worst places to be as we learn to live with Delta’. Bloomberg puts Spain in second place, just behind Ireland. Spain is now at 62 cases per 100,000 people, says elDiario.es here, which is the best figure since July last year.

From El País in English here: ‘Spain lifts capacity restrictions on outdoor sporting events as coronavirus cases fall. The Health Ministry reported 2,290 infections on Tuesday, the lowest daily figure since July 2020’.


Mention was made last week of a new TV channel to begin broadcasting soon. However Canal 7 (or rather 7nn) may not just be another entertainment channel, as Pandemia Digital says: ‘Next October a new television station will begin broadcasting on traditional TDT (free air TV). The company that makes it up will be chaired by José Ángel Alonso García - a member of the Board of Trustees of the Francisco Franco Foundation. Next to him will be his brother Jaime, with various managerial positions in the Francoist foundation, and Jaime Alonso Gila, an assistant and advisor to the Vox parliamentary group in the Congress of Deputies, as directors of the company. But they will not be alone in this business adventure, as various members of El Yunque, according to investigators and statements in court, such as Marcial Cuquerella and Luis Losada, or visible faces of Hazte Oír such as its spokesperson, Javier Villamor, will become the public faces of the new channel…’.


A normal face-mask – the kind we often see tossed onto the pavement or the pathway or the playa, takes up to 300 years to rot into dust. On the other hand, who wants to pick one of those things up from the ground to dispose of properly? A new kind of mascarilla is now available, says elDiario.es, which will biodegrade in just eight weeks. The details here.

The lava-flow from the volcano on the island of Palma has now reached the sea. Video and story at La Sexta here.

Reminding us once again that Vox is the party for the farmers, ‘Luis Gestoso affirms in Congress that "the Mar Menor is not polluted". The Vox deputy (who is from Murcia) made the remarks at the Commission for Ecological Transition, insisting that "agriculture is being criminalized". The Mar Menor Natural Park proposal which would grant full protection for the stricken lagoon, promoted by Podemos, did not find support’. Onda Regional has the story and audio here.


How much do the various presidents of the Spanish autonomies earn each year? Forbes knows. The president of Catalonia earns the most, the president of Andalucía earns the least.

Rather like mariachi comes from the French mariage and meant a Napoleonic marriage orchestra (Wiki doesn’t like this theory), so chotis, the Madrid music and dance from the 1850s comes, via Argentina, from Bohemia, who adopted the name of an old supposedly Schottisch (Scottish) routine. Three steps to the right, three to the left… and turn.

The BBC News trudges slowly across Spain here following a giant drove of sheep: ‘A resurgence in pastoralism, one of the world's more sustainable food systems, could help Spain adapt to climate change and revitalise depopulated rural areas…’. Key: you’ve seen the sheep as they cross Madrid on an ancient drovers’ route. That’s transhumance.

The Interior Ministry has published new rules on how the Guardia Civil must groom themselves by this time next year – no visible tattoos being the first thing to go…

Real Madrid went and lost a game against Fotbal Club Sheriff – which ‘is based in Tiraspol, a city located in the unrecognised breakaway state of Transnistria’ (Wiki). Sports paper As has the details of the game here.

The new Universalisation of Digital Infrastructures for Cohesion Programme (UNICO) is the framework for measures and investments that will guarantee ultrafast broadband connection throughout the country, covering 100% of the population by 2025. The first call launched by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation is aimed at telecommunications operators whose objective is the deployment of very high speed broadband infrastructures, capable of providing services at speeds of at least 300 Mbps, scalable to 1Gbps…’. The Corner reports here. (At BoT headquarters, where we don’t even have fibre-optic, the Internet is extremely slow!)

I try a new dish – daring days with Spanish food on the blog here.

See Spain:

From The Guardian here: ‘Warriors, cathedrals and carnivals: Spain’s best smaller cities, chosen by readers. Medieval plazas, fortresses like film sets and seafood straight out of the net feature in your pick of these lesser-known destinations’.

The Olive Press brings us ‘Six Spanish hiking routers that will make your knees tremble’.


Night train from Barcelona to Valencia.

It was around thirty-five years ago that I travelled from Barcelona to Valencia on the night train. The journey, if I remember correctly, took two hours more than it is today. Anyway, everything was fine as set forth from the Sanz railway station in Barcelona and rattled happily south towards Tarragona and my destination.

Then without warning the train slowed down and juddered to a halt. It was a bright moonlight night and a look out of the window showed that we had stopped in the middle of nowhere. Just fields of nothing in particular.

Time went by and it was around thirty minutes later when the ticket collector came by.

"Excuse me," I said, "Is there a problem?"

"No Sir. There is no problem."

"Well, the train has stopped."

He looked at me as though I had missed the point.

"Of course, the train has stopped."

I grinned up at him in his crumpled black suit and battered cap.

"Can I ask why?"

He looked at me, seriously.

"You mean you don't know why?"

I was at a loss for words and feeling a complete idiot.

"I am very sorry but I don't know why."

He was beginning to lose his temper and putting on his serious expression asked, "Señor, what day is it today?"

I sat back in my seat.

"Wednesday," I said, then corrected myself. "No, it is Thursday. But what the hell has that got to do by stopping in the wilds in the middle of the night?"

He glared at me as anyone in uniform was allowed to do in Spain.

"And the time, Señor. The time?"

By now I was becoming agitated.

"Listen! Señor, I don't know what today is or whether your watch is working or not has to do with why we are stuck here in the middle of nowhere and the middle of the night!"

It was then I think he realised what an ignorant foreigner he was dealing with.

So, he explained, "Well, you see Señor. I do not know what happens in your country but here in Spain in the autumn we change the clocks by one hour. So, on this night, all the trains stop for one hour and then continue, arriving at their destinations on time!"

I could not believe it and was about to ask why they could not make a note on the timetable. But he had moved on probably wondering who the foreigner was lacking in such logic.

As a footnote I found that there were only fourteen trains operative on that particular night. So, I suppose logic dictates, that it is not worth the effort to notify their customers.

Chris Wright

Hi Lenox,

I'm sorry you mentioned Cívica (here) in BoT; now it will be overrun by Botsters. Whenever we visit Brihuega we visit and have a drink at a curious little bar down by the river with its view of the peculiar rock hamlet. The bar, by the way, must have the worst Google reseñas that I have ever read.

But we love it...

Cheers, Jake


La Llorona (The weeping woman) is a Mexican folk song. The song originated in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Its origins are obscure, but composer Andres Henestrosa in about 1941 popularized the song and may have added to the existing verses. This version on YouTube with Carmen Goett.

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