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Migrants staying at the Urban Beach Torrox Costa hotel in El Morche (file image). E. Cabezas
Costa del Sol mayor on migrants: 'There are lots of vacant hotels in empty Spain and this resort is not the best place to house them'
Migration

Costa del Sol mayor on migrants: 'There are lots of vacant hotels in empty Spain and this resort is not the best place to house them'

Óscar Medina has spoken out against a hotel businessman's agreement with the Spanish government to house migrants in El Morche

Eugenio Cabezas

Torrox Costa

Friday, 29 March 2024, 23:32

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"I understand that in Torrox we need more hotel accommodation, and there are vacant hotels in 'empty Spain', and El Morche is not exactly the best place to house them." That is what the mayor of Torrox, Óscar Medina, said at the last ordinary plenary session, held on Easter Monday. 'Empty Spain' is a phrase that refers to the country's rural areas that have suffered from underinvestment and depopulation over a number of years.

The statement comes amid a situation that has been ongoing since last October at the Urban Beach Hotel Torrox Costa in El Morche, on the eastern strip of the Costa del Sol in Malaga province, after its owner reached an agreement with the Spanish government to convert it into a temporary stay centre for migrants arriving by boat from the Canary Islands.

In response to a question from the PSOE spokesperson and national socialist deputy, Mari Nieves Ramírez, about the failed project of the businessman Francisco Javier Martín, who was investigated in the Rubiales case, to build another 200-room, four-star hotel, the Torrox councillor said that after this decision "I stopped having any relationship with him".

"There are many hotels in empty Spain and El Morche is not the best place. I do not understand that a hotel on the beachfront has to house migrants, there was no geographical justification, they came to Madrid by plane from the Canary Islands and are transferred by road to Torrox, I see it's wrong that, as a businessman, he preferred to make a pact with the Spanish government of Pedro Sánchez and did not bet on tourism which is what we are interested in," Medina said.

The councillor announced the Granada businessman has extended the contract with the government to extend the stays of migrants "even in the summer months". "I think PSOE and Sumar-IU should have considered contracting with hotels in municipalities with less occupancy in the high season," he wrote on his social media account.

On the failed hotel project proposed by Francisco Javier Martín at the 2019 international tourism fair Fitur, Medina said "it was not viable". Looking ahead to several sporting events planned for the coming summer, the mayor said the decision to extend the accommodation of migrants during high season is going to complicate putting up the athletes. "I don't agree with him, this hotel is needed and we continue to work so that there are more hotel places," he added.

In a comment to his message posted on Wednesday 27 March to his Facebook profile, the mayor of Torrox responded to a member of the public who asked him: "And what can we do to change this?" "Convince Pedro Sánchez that migrants arriving in Madrid from the Canary Islands, instead of coming to the Urban Beach Hotel Torrox Costa by bus, should be accommodated with the same dignity in hotels in 'empty Spain', where there is less overcrowding and demand... a contract is signed by two parties, the central government and the owner of the hotel (as a town hall we can do nothing)," he replied.

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