The beach bars are an important part of the local economy. :: SUR
Fuengirola. Fuengirola Town Hall has unanimously approved a motion to “urgently request” that the regional government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment grants new 15-year location licences for the town’s 32 ‘chiringuitos’ (‘beach bars/restaurants’) which, under Coastal Laws, have to be spaced at least 200 metres apart from each other.
The council’s request seeks to allow 29 of them to remain in their current locations and for three of them to be moved to different ones.
Ana Mula, the Councillor for Town Planning, said in a statement that she hopes the Junta de Andalucía will bear in mind that it has previously allowed Fuengirola some degree of flexibility on this issue due to the fact that the “town’s shoreline is totally developed” and because the “Ministry for the Environment did so when it awarded licences in 1989, 1992 and the provisional ones back in 2011.”
She also stressed that Fuengirola could have 33 permanent beach bars and 33 temporary ones along its coastline and be within the law – a far greater amount than the current number. Similarly, she highlighted that in accordance with this year’s ‘Plan de Playas’, which aims to make more “free spaces” on the beaches, the number of sun beds has been cut by 4,480 to create 10,800 square metres more of “unoccupied” sand.
For her part, the Mayor, Esperanza Oña, added: “In Fuengirola we hope that [the majority of] the ‘chiringuitos’ can remain where they are because overall the Law is being complied with… it’s just that some are 220 metres part and some are 180 metres apart.”
The town’s main opposition parties, namely the PSOE and the IU, have also lent their support to the Partido Popular-initiated motion, suggesting perhaps that the ‘chiringuitos’ are almost universally seen as an important attraction for Fuengirola, a town which undeniably relies on tourism to drive its economy.
However, Oña states: “If the socialist party (PSOE) had supported the [process to obtain] maximum licences for the beach bars before, this motion would not be necessary… We are going to continue to fight for the 29 mentioned facilities to remain where they currently are because the future of Fuengirola’s [tourism] sector depends on them.”
Every Fuengirola business owner, contacted by SUR in English this week has welcomed the move from the Town Hall to urge the Junta to allow the chiringuitos to continue to trade where they are.
Italian-born Mona Di Petro, who has run a restaurant on the seafront for nine years, says: “There’s no doubt that the beach bars are a big draw for tourists; and the more tourists there are, the better it is for small businesses such as mine. Some people might assume that they [the chiringuitos] are direct competition for my restaurant which isn’t on the beach, but I don’t view it that way. In my opinion, if they are thriving, the town is thriving and that’s good for me.”
Shop manager Alex Brouwer adds: “I think it’s madness that the Junta would even contemplate not issuing the licences for the ‘chringuitos’, which act as an economic motor, at a time when the economy needs all the help it can get!”