Weekly Report”

Business over Tapas (Nº 534)

Business over Tapas (Nº 534)

  • 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 18 de abril de 2024, 22:43h

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We’ve looked at the incipient turismofobia, as a mixture of the usual dislike and enviousness shown towards the apparently wealthy foreign tourists, who sometimes appear to underappreciate this wonderful country (and are -whoops!- sometimes sick in the garden).

But it’s a great business – they bring money – 13% of the GDP comes from the trippers – and in return, they go home again with empty pockets, a sun-burn and a hangover. Not a bad exchange, all in all.

Not that the trickle-down-system necessarily works in this case for everyone. Some areas get a lot of visitors, and others, of course, don’t. Some folk make some good money from tourism, and most of the rest of society – needless to say – doesn’t. Indeed, all they seem to get is the inconvenience.

The Canary and Balearics have it the worst, because one can only pack so many peas into a jar.

For the islanders, thanks to the huge number of visitors, there’s high demand for a dwelling, a lack of affordable homes on offer, ever-more tourist apartments (they pay better), more and more short-lets, shortages, queues and of course legions of guiris understandably out for a good time… bringing scary news items like ‘Lanzarote on brink of collapse as tourists overwhelm small island and exploit resources’, ‘Ibiza locals living in cars as party island sees rents soar’ and ‘Protesters in the Canary Islands on hunger strike over mass tourism’. And there’s nowhere to go, beyond living in a cave, a hut or a van, or the incredible bother of flying over, daily, from the mainland. We learn that if you really want a cheap place to sleep, then there’s always ‘The most surreal (and precarious) rentals offered in the Canary Islands, from shacks to mattresses in parked cars’.

Not that the problems of high-rents, scarcity and being pushed to the back don’t occur elsewhere. An article in El País is titled ‘A journey through Spain with the victims of voracious tourism: “I can't take it anymore”. Residents from Cádiz, Palma, San Sebastian or Tenerife explain how their lives have worsened due to the rise of tourist apartments, the filth in the streets and the collapse of public and private services’. In Barcelona, someone is telling the local radio, ‘in our block there are 33 ATs (tourist-lets), and there’s noise, dirt and vomit’. The plan is to build more short-term apartments – because they produce better income for the owners (which, as often as not, turns out to be a vulture-fund). One detail in the story is of a resident who saw 28 people come out of a tourist-apartment one morning (after an understandably noisy night). And because they are short-term – maybe just a day or two – they don’t care much if they break or trash something…

In my local tourist town, you can rent only until May, when the landlord will start looking for some Booking or AirBnb mini-breaks.

So where do you go until the low-season returns?

In Madrid, the national government talks of building more affordable apartment blocks, while threatening to clear out the worst barrios of an excess of ATs.

In metropolitan Valencia, there are twice as many tourist-lets as regular rentals.

In Seville, a local association complains about the bars and restaurants occupying the pavement with their ‘terrazas’, the endless special city-hall ‘events’ designed to bring in visitors (the current Feria de Abril), and of course, the tourist-apartments.

It can be annoying when hotels are allowed full swimming pools, but – due to water restrictions – residents living in community-blocks are in doubt. The good people of Málaga are not amused.

Maybe we could go swim at the hotels – it’s only fair…

Perhaps, say some visionaries, we could create a new tourist destination to ease the pressure on the current ones: a ‘New Ibiza’ in Cantabria.

Don’t laugh, they’ve already bought the land.

The BBC says that ‘Activists have begun a hunger strike on the island of Tenerife, in protest at what they see as the destructive growth of tourism on the Canary Islands. Protesters are calling for a halt to the construction of a hotel and a beach resort in the south of the island’.

The answers to all this are inevitably to curtail the number of short-term apartment lets and to build more housing to become available for residents. Furthermore, to raise hotel prices (more wealthier tourists, less cheap holidays); apply ‘eco-taxes’ in high density resorts, show some respect towards local residents (priority parking stickers as an obvious example) and – above all – relief of the 90/180 day rule – being those long term tourists who generally own their own home (and in six months will evidently be spending a lot more than the brief visit by a holiday-maker).

Short-term apartments are fine in a rural tourism setting, but not so much in the city.

A graffiti on a wall in Madrid: ‘Fuck BNB, save the Barrio’.

Right now, the season is only just starting…


Is it a good idea to buy a second home for investment, holidays or a future retirement home? ECD poses the question here. They often tend to be places either on the coast or in the family’s traditional pueblo. Around three million Spaniards own a second home. A list of the pros and cons are given.

From European Conservative here: ‘New data shows how in the past year the availability of affordable rental properties in Spain lags far behind public need. For every rental home advertised in Spain, there’s an average of 27 families interested in it, ten more applicants than the 17 per property in the first quarter of 2023. This follows years of decline in the private rented sector’.

‘In the Canary Islands, there’s a rebellion by those affected by the law that forces the exploitation of housing in certain areas to be transferred to tour operators. Residents have begun to receive fines for refusing to give up their home to a tour operator as required by a law of the Canary Islands government in certain areas. It’s called the Law of renewal and tourist modernization and it throws many Canarians out of their homes’ says Telecinco here.

From Travel & Tour World here: ‘Spain introduces tough measures on holiday homes amid over-tourism’. We read that ‘In a significant policy shift, the Spanish government has initiated stringent controls on holiday rentals, including Airbnbs, responding to escalating anti-tourism protests, particularly pronounced in regions like the Canary Islands. This new directive aims to curb the saturation of tourists and address the residential needs of local communities increasingly side-lined by the tourism boom…’

The Bank of Spain once again points out the problem of accessibility to housing in our country and now points to tourist apartments as a driver of rental prices. This was stated in the latest Financial Stability Report which says that the rebound in tourist rentals "could be having an impact on rental prices and, consequently, on housing prices"’. From ABC here.

Gentrification – a transformation of the poorer parts of the city, at the expense of the residents there. A short video looks at Madlyn, a (‘vulture fund’) company in Madrid that’s uying up apartment blocks to re-let at a large increase.

In Granada, thanks to gentrification, ‘We don’t live in the surrounding towns precisely because we enjoy the daily drive in to work’. Granada Digital also laments the tourist-rentals.

El País brings us ‘The timeshare trap: cajoled with champagne and hooked for life with a piece of an apartment. The sale of the use of weeks in vacation homes was a boom 20 years ago. Thousands of affected people are today trying without success to disengage and recover their money’. A company called Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket lists the various time-shares still available in Spain, if you’re interested…

The Golden Visa debate here: From Eye in Spain here: ‘In a significant policy shift, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced the government's decision to abolish the Golden Visa program. This scheme allows foreigners to secure residency by investing a minimum of €500,000 in Spanish real estate. The move marks a pivotal change in Spain's approach to foreign investment and residency…’ The Telegraph says ‘How Europe turned its back on Golden Visas. The writing is on the wall for the Continent’s residency-through-investment-schemes’ (Oddly, the home-version of this very same article is titled ‘Britons in the firing line as Europe scraps Golden Visa rules’). Of British-bought homes in Spain since 2022 (they buy about 25% of all homes acquired by foreigners), just 179 were through the Golden Visa scheme. From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘The Spanish government say speculation, gentrification and “excessive demand” justify terminating the Residency by Investment scheme for property investors, popularly known as the Spanish Golden Visa…’

From elDiario.es here: ‘The family and associates of Eduardo Zaplana (who is currently defending himself in court where the prosecution is calling for 19 years for corruption) promotes the biggest urban development in Benidorm. The Ensanche Levante Partial Plan, approved by the PP, plans to build on 575,371 square meters of land more than 3,000 apartments—half of them tourist homes—and 20 hotels’. One comment that amuses – ‘Destrozarán la zona aún más si cabe, a base de chavs borrachos y erbianbís’.

The ins-and-outs of squatting in Spain (okupas) with Idealista (in English) here.


From Majorca Daily Bulletin here: ‘Turespaña, the Spanish government's tourism agency, is to conduct a survey to measure the social sustainability of tourism based on the perceptions of residents. This survey will seek opinions regarding tourist overcrowding and any negative impact of tourism growth over recent years…’

The Corner brings encouraging tourist figures for 2024.

‘Spain 'cuts off water' for UK tourists leaving them in 'third world conditions'. Local authorities in the Costa del Sol announced a night-time water supply cut-off on Tuesday due to the "prolonged drought with a severe shortage of water resources"’. Apparently, the cut was in Sotogrande (for one night), but for the Brits reading the Daily Mirror in Rochdale, this might be a fine point.

Articles like this from the British yellow press are often found and translated for Spanish readers (which is probably one of the reasons why they paint those anti-tourist messages on the walls – or even on the rent-a-cars). 20Minutos comments on the article here.

From Sur in English here: ‘The Junta's tourism boss denies that private and community swimming pool uncertainty is affecting summer holiday bookings in south of Spain’. Friends, that ain’t gonna fly.

Building resorts on the northern coast of Spain – will they take note of the problems found in the popular Mediterranean destinations?

‘Soon after Maria Rosa Sanchez reported her neighbour for renting her building's rooftop in Santa Cruz de Tenerife as a campsite on Airbnb, police officers carried out an early morning raid and local authorities opened an investigation. The closure of the campsite, which offered tents for 12 euros a night, is a foretaste of a new hard line towards illegal short-lets on Spain's Canary Islands, where listings on platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com have soared…’. A tale from Reuters here.

Almería now has over 10,000 tourist-apartments offering around 50,000 beds – a hefty chunk of the entire province’s offer of 118,200 beds (between hotels, pensiones and ATs).


Of the larger industrialized economies expected to grow the most this year and next, as predicted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its semi-annual report 'World Economic Outlook', Spain lies in second place. Only the United States - this year - and Canada - next year - will grow more than Spain. Of the large developed economies, Spain is also, along with the US, the only one that has seen its growth forecast for this year corrected upwards…’. Item from El Mundo here.

Tourism is doing well, says a spokesperson from Exeltur, the tourism lobby. ‘…This year, “the growth in tourism will be 8.6% and, for the first time, it will contribute more than 200,000 million euros to the Spanish economy. If that figure is reached, tourism would provide 13% of GDP and would contribute more than 35% of economic growth. “It's going to be a good year although growth rates will moderate from now on”, he says’. The story is at elDiario.es here. In particular, Chinese tourism is up this year by 150% over 2023, the Japanese by 66% and Polish visitors by 30% says the article.

Following a proposal in congress to ‘regularise half a million illegal ‘(paperless’) immigrants, La Cadana Ser has ‘An economist explains the impact that the regularization of half a million migrants would have in Spain: This is how the pension system will be maintained’. Somewhere else, I was reading about how no one except these self-same migrants will take a range of menial jobs, from picking strawberries to cleaning or as carers.

Landlords – those that rent out an apartment or more – tend to be better off than those who must rent them. Of course. The difference is, according to elDiario.es, something like 19,000 to 26,000€ per year income for renters (they must be talking about the city, not where I’m living), versus the caseros with an income of 50,000€ and up.


Óscar Puente, the Minister for Transport and undoubtedly a colourful figure, says that politicians have fallen into the mistake of telling everyone what they want to hear. The story is at La Cadena Ser here (with video).

While the Government calls for a Palestinian state, the PP are in two minds – with Ayuso and Aznar standing against the initiative says El Huff Post. Pedro Sánchez has the support of several European countries - Ireland, Malta, Slovenia and Norway – says the Government-site La Moncloa. If Spain recognises Palestine, would Israel in turn recognise an independent Catalonia asks ECD here. Apparently not.

Podemos calls for the Israeli ambassadress Rodica Radian Gordon to be expelled from Spain and for Spain to break off relations with the truculent country.

The moción de censura, a fairly common occurrence in politics, is when – for one reason or another – one or more councillors (or deputies) remove their backing for one leader (mayor, president or poobah) in exchange for another, bringing about a change in that town hall, region or even national parliament. There’s not much point in calling for a moción de censura unless there’s a change (although the Vox party hasn’t yet cottoned on to this particular point). This week, then, a town in Granada called Maracena switched from the Partido Popular to the PSOE, after some small parties changed their support, no doubt for the very finest of reasons. El País has the details.

Euzkera elections April 21:

Both the PNV and EH Bildu have seats in the national government, and both are junior partners of the PSOE. What will happen following the Basque elections this weekend when both parties will be seeking the support of the PSOE to govern there?

El Español thinks that the elections should be all about ETA (wiki), the Basque terrorist group that ceased activities in 2010.

Catalonia elections May 12:


From The Guardian here: ‘The UK and EU “within kissing distance” of post-Brexit Gibraltar border deal. Gibraltar’s chief minister says progress has been made in talks about free movement across the border with Spain’. 20Minutos says the deal should be signed within weeks.


From EuroNews here: ‘The European Parliament has voted in favour of including access to abortion in the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights. The proposal was approved by 336 votes to 163 against, with support mainly coming from left-wing and centrist members…’ We read that the proposal is nevertheless non-binding, as ‘a full-fledged right to abortion access would require the backing of all 27 member states to be included in the EU's charter’.


From The Olive Press here: ‘Operation waiting lists in Spain’s public hospital system have reached a record high of 849,535 as of December 31, 2023. Twice-yearly figures are released by the Ministry of Health, and show a 30,000 increase compared to last summer. It’s the fifth successive report to show rising operation waiting times, and the only worst modern figure was in June 2020 when nearly all routine procedures were postponed due to the Covid pandemic…’. There’s a theory that some regional governments (for whatever reason) might underfund the health service, thus encouraging people to take private health insurance…

It’s a nuisance when people with appointments don’t show up, unfortunately something quite common in Spain. ECD reports that the ‘Health Centres will be publishing the number of patients who do not attend their medical appointments. Sanidad orders that posters to be placed daily with the information of how many, without having called for a cancelation, didn’t show up. Last year there were eleven million failed appointments’.

The Zendal hospital in Madrid (wiki) was built in record time to face the Covid pandemic. At a cost of around 200 million euros, the hospital was never fully exploited and currently receives an average admission of one new patient a day. elDiario.es investigates here.


The talks in Brussels to solve the CGPJ issue remain at a standstill after the EU mediator Didier Reynders pulled out of the stalled discussions to begin campaigning for a top job in the Council of Europe. The PP hope to bring the election of the ‘Spanish judicial governing body’ (as it has been described) to the purview of the judges themselves (usually conservative, as it happens). The CGPJ is now over five years blocked by the Partido Popular and the acting president Vicente Guilarte says he will quit his post by the summer if the impasse isn’t soon resolved. elDiario.es has the stories here and here.

7777777The Supreme Court has ruled against the claims from the concessionary for the AP-9 motorway in Galicia for their estimated losses during the Pandemic. Audasa had asked for a bung of 46 million euros from the public purse.


An interview with Anna Pacheco, a journalist (and archaeologist) from Barcelona at Público here. Anna has just written a book called ‘Estuve aquí y me acordé de nosotros. Una historia sobre turismo, trabajo y clase’ (Anagrama, 2024). The title of the article is a quote: “Tourism is like candy: it gives you work but at the same time it takes away your house”.

The Olive Press has redesigned its webpage and is, we think, much improved. See for yourself here.


‘Scientists at a United Nations conference in Spain called Friday for more research into the sharp rise in ocean temperatures which they warn could have devastating consequences. The European Union's climate monitor Copernicus said last week that average sea surface temperatures had set a new record high in March of just over 21 degrees Celsius. "The changes are happening so fast that we are not able to keep pace with the impact," the executive secretary of UNESCO's intergovernmental oceanographic commission, Vidar Helgesen, said on the side-lines of the three-day "Ocean Decade" conference in Barcelona…’ More at Phys.Org here.

From CNBC here, ‘An extraordinary run of record heat could usher in a long, hot summer — and not in a good way’

From Xataca here: ‘The double effect of the rains on the swimming pools of Andalucía: filling for the community ones, doubts for the private ones. President Moreno finds it difficult to allow private pools to be filled in Málaga, Almería or the south of Granada’.

Murcia Today says that the house cockroach ‘…is becoming almost invincible to insecticides, something which is creating a serious public health problem. The continuous rise in temperatures is leading to genetic mutations in these insects…’


From Sur in English here: ‘Graffiti-based vandalism on Spain's state operator Renfe's trains in Andalucía created an extra cost of 556,870 euros in 2023. This figure includes, in addition to the cleaning itself, the indirect costs arising from this vandalism, such as investment in security, both in terms of personnel and supporting technology. Renfe has provided details of illegal entries into their premises made by graffiti artists across the region. A total of 76 incursions into the company's facilities and trains across the different provinces were reported…’ Last year such vandalism throughout the country cost the state company 25 million euros to stamp out.

‘How to apply for an ETIAS Spain with dual citizenship’ here. (Thanks to Charles)

From Público here: ‘The Government announces the end of the Francisco Franco Foundation: "We don’t have to exhume graves from the winning side, because there are none, they have already been exhumed," said the Minister of Democratic Memory, Ángel Víctor Torres, during a visit to a Francoist concentration camp last week in Fuerteventura’.

From a memorial stone in Derry city: ‘Sacred, To the memory of, ROBERT BOYD of this city Esquire, and sometimes Lieutenant in the Bengal Army, who with 53 Brave and Devoted Companions, Fell at Malaga on the 11th December 1831, In a bold but successful attempt, to overthrow despotism in Spain, and to advance the Sacred cause of, Religion and Liberty, in that degraded country aged 26 years’. The story of an Irish freedom fighter at IrelandXO here. (Thanks to Antonio)

I am reading ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ by Laurie Lee, who meets the famous (notorious) South African poet Roy Campbell (Wiki) living in Toledo in 1935. Campbell (an early anti-apartheid activist) was later remembered as a pro-Franco poet.

From Público here: ‘The owner of a strawberry plantation in Huelva threatens the day labourers after learning of their complaints: "To Morocco all of them!" The owner intimidates the workers after learning that they had asked independent associations and groups for help due to non-compliance with their original contracts’. A local journalist estimates that the short-fall in wages for all the strawberry pickers in the province is something like 100 million euros per year.

Sometimes, pedestrianizing a street means filling it with so many terrazas that the walking public can barely get by. A case in point in Salamanca here.

The Feria de Abril, the Seville fiesta, continues through this weekend.

From Up a Mountain in Spain here: ‘Animal herding still exists here, but the times are changing!’

Some words and concepts just don’t translate between Spanish and English, even when you are bilingual. An essay at The New York Times here.

Another yacht has been attacked by orcas, this time in Galician waters. The stricken vessel was towed back to La Coruña. The story is at Galicia Press here.

See Spain:

Stephanie de Leng’s photos of Spain can be found here – well worth a visit.


Monsieur Periné with Mala Hierba at YouTube here. A ‘multifaceted’ Columbian duo.

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