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Visitors bathing at Nerja's popular Río Chillar beauty spot in a file image from a previous summer. E. Cabezas
Access to popular Costa del Sol beauty spot remains closed as authorities fail to appoint management company in time for summer
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Access to popular Costa del Sol beauty spot remains closed as authorities fail to appoint management company in time for summer

The Junta de Andalucía has not yet concluded the evaluation of the three proposals submitted to control visitor numbers at Nerja’s popular Río Chíllar

Eugenio Cabezas

Nerja

Monday, 3 June 2024, 12:35

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Access to the middle and upper reaches of the Río Chíllar beauty spot in Nerja on the eastern stretch of the Costa del Sol, is still prohibited. It has largely remained closed to the public since the coronavirus pandemic and in August last year Nerja town hall once again decided to close it due to fears over safety and the environmental impact of high visitor numbers.

As summer approaches, the ban remains in force as the Junta de Andalucía has not yet completed the procedures initiated last December to award the contract to a private company to manage access to the site, which in the past has seen more than 3,000 people a day visiting it during the summer months.

This was announced to SUR by the Andalusian regional delegate for sustainability, José Antonio Víquez, who acknowledged that until now the bureaucratic procedures for awarding the contract lie with the regional government. They still need to evaluate the maximum volume of daily visitors to be allowed, as well as the emergency, transport and fire prevention plans, among other documents.

Three companies bid for the contract which went out to tender at the end of 2023: Hermanos Campano S.L., from Ardales, Viajes Verano Azul S.L., from Nerja and Construcciones Sánchez Domínguez (Sando), from Málaga.

Nerja's popular Río Chillar beauty spot is to remain closed this summer.
Nerja's popular Río Chillar beauty spot is to remain closed this summer. E. Cabezas

“We are working on a regulation of the natural park, especially in the access to the river Chíllar, which has become overcrowded at very specific times of the summer,” explained Víquez, who pointed out that according to the counts carried out by his department, there were more than 3,100 people in the river in August 2022.

'Like Everest'

Asked whether the regulation will be ready for this summer, Víquez replied: “We want it to be done well, they are very thorough studies, they need a study that determines all the actions, we have to cover all eventualities, so that in the event of possible emergency situations everything is resolved.”

Nerja’s councillor for the environment, Javier Rodriguez is confident that the regional government can complete the procedures for the award “very soon”. Rodríguez added, “It is similar to what happens in many protected areas, and with great tourist attractions, such as Everest.”

It should be remembered that the possible privatisation of access to the river Chíllar has provoked a response against it from local society, especially from environmental groups, such as the Gabinete de Estudios de la Naturaleza (GENA-Ecologistas en Acción), the association Entre Cañas and a citizens' initiative to collect signatures. Left-wing political groups have also expressed their opposition, such as the Con Andalucía group.

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