The expected classification of the Sierra de las Nieves as Spain's 16th National Park will provide legal protection for the area and will also make it better-known. "This is like moving up from second to first division," said Rafael Haro, the director of the existing natural park, which is managed by the Andalusian government.
The mayors of the 14 towns and villages are enthusiastic, not only about the prospects for their local economies, but also at the thought that it could help to counter their loss of population. Yunquera, for example, has lost ten per cent of its inhabitants in the past decade, according to recent statistics.
Several companies already have plans drawn up to create accommodation and active tourism and are just waiting for the definitive approval before investing. The authorities also plan to create a visitors' centre, information for walkers, lookout points, a nature education centre, parking and other facilities. "There will be more money from the government as a National Park, especially at first when so much has to be done," said Haro.