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One of the banners spotted during the housing crisis protest in Malaga city last weekend. SUR
Costa del Sol bar and restaurant owners' association warns of dangers of anti-tourism movement
Tourism

Costa del Sol bar and restaurant owners' association warns of dangers of anti-tourism movement

It stressed that the sector is a key pillar of the local economy with a direct impact of 11 billion euros and accounts for more than 125,000 jobs, according to official data

Pilar Martínez

Malaga

Friday, 5 July 2024, 09:59

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A bar and restaurant owners in Malaga have unanimously approved an institutional declaration of support for the tourist industry during the general assembly of Mahos, the association for the sector, held on Wednesday in which it warned that "we have been witnessing for some time now with deep concern a tourism-phobic movement that is completely wrong in its motivations, its diagnoses and its supposed solutions".

Confronted with this situation, the association said it feels obliged to "sound the alarm and demand responsibility and firmness from our public representatives". What is more, bar and restaurant owners want to "avoid the demagogy with which they try to blame the tourist industry for problems that undoubtedly exist, such as housing or the lack of certain infrastructures". The association pointed out that tourism is also affected by these factors "when there is no accommodation for workers or when transport is deficient in a province with a real need for a Malaga-Marbella axis".

Frutos, during the Mahos assembly. Migue Fernández

The statement the group issued is based on the importance of this sector, which is facing the high tourism season with optimistic forecasts in terms of holidaymakers, overnight stays, income and job creation. They stress that it is a key pillar of the economy with a direct impact of 11 billion euros and accounting for more than 125,000 jobs, according to official data.

"These are numbers that underpin the economy of the province of Malaga and Andalucía, where tourism contributes 15 per cent of the GDP. It is an industry in the broadest sense, with tradition, training, investment, infrastructure, innovation, generation of wealth and employment, commitment to sustainability, promotion and planning," the association claimed.

Tourism-phobia demonstrations

"There is political short-sightedness and electoral short-termism in the disqualification or simply in the lack of defence of tourism. The international smear campaign provoked by the tourism-phobia seen in demonstrations in defence of housing is being publicised and will be exploited by our competitors," the association added.

The hospitality and catering sector association said that "we have seen banners and heard proclamations against tourism and the arrival of foreigners" and considers "the lack of condemnation or even encouragement of these attitudes by political representatives to be intolerable".

"No society can pretend to solve its problems by renouncing or discrediting its main economic industry. It is simply a fatal mistake". The association also claimed that "it is incomprehensible that political leaders - with powers - who deny basic infrastructures that could expand the population of the province of Malaga, such as the coastal train, should demonstrate against tourism".

The bar and restaurant owners said they show their "utmost respect for the people who are demonstrating for the real problem of housing", but denounce "the use of this legitimate claim by political or social groups interested in attacking tourism without calibrating the harmful consequences of such a position". In this sense, they point out that according to data from the Gestrisam agency of Malaga city council, 95 per cent of tourist homes are in the hands of small owners and that legislative changes are under way to control their proliferation.

Where is the fault of tourism?

"Malaga city hall, the Junta de Andalucia and the Spanish government have already announced actions. Where is the fault of tourism here? We demand a rigorous analysis, not a purely ideological one," it said.

Aware that "there are many variables missing that are not considered", they point out that the imbalance between supply and demand is evident. "Many people simply want to live in Malaga because of its countless attractions and there is not enough housing. The INE (national institute of statistics) forecasts that the province will exceed two million inhabitants by 2031. A lot of planning is needed. To look for a supposedly simple solution to a complex problem is disrespectful to the citizens. Will attacking tourism make rents cheaper? Since the housing law came into force, the increase in the price of rent throughout Spain is evident, with rises of up to 20 per cent," they state in this institutional declaration.

A manifesto in which the sector believes a calm analysis is essential, it demands sustainability is the future of this industry, adding, "Reckless acts that gamble with the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of families in the province cannot be tolerated. The hotel and catering industry provides around 70 per cent of tourism employment. If these messages achieve their objectives, who will then take on the economic and employment disaster? How can you be so irresponsible?"

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