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File image of a top-end property on the Costa del Sol. Josele-lanza
Concern in the Costa del Sol's property and tourism sectors over national government's 'flash in the pan' plan to scrap Spain's 'golden visa' scheme
Property

Concern in the Costa del Sol's property and tourism sectors over national government's 'flash in the pan' plan to scrap Spain's 'golden visa' scheme

The special visa programme was approved in September 2013 in a bid to attract foreign investors who are granted a residence permit if they purchase a property valued at more than 500,000 euros

Pilar Martínez

Malaga

Tuesday, 9 April 2024, 11:25

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The phones of businessmen and tourism officials on the Costa del Sol have been ringing off the hook since Spain's prime minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Tuesday (9 April) plans to end the country's so-called 'golden visa' scheme.

The national government's cabinet will meet today to discuss plans to eliminate the visa, approved in September 2013 to attract foreign investors who are granted a residence permit if they purchase a property that exceeds half a million euros. But there is unease from many on the Costa del Sol, aware the move could have a direct and negative impact on tourism and foreign investment.

President of the Andalusian Federation of Developers and Residential Tourism and executive president of the Villa Padierna Hotels & Resorts group Ricardo Arranz said the golden visa has developed quality tourism on the Costa and brought in wealth to the area. "They should explain whether we need more quantity or an excellence in tourism that allows the development of projects that create more employment," he said. "With the elimination of this investment incentive, the direct consequence is that many investors who had chosen Spain will go to London, which is replacing Switzerland in attracting important investments," Arranz added.

"The unease is clear. I fear that this is another blunder," Arranz pointed out, while criticising the national government for making the decision "without consulting anyone, as a flash in the pan and generating surprise and concern".

Although there is no data on how many golden visas have been granted in Malaga province, figures which the National Police are not authorised to reveal, Arranz said "this measure is not going to help residential tourism on the Costa del Sol". "This golden visa is a very important attraction. They could look for another alternative, increase investment or any other initiative rather than eliminating it. This takes away the direct impact for sure."

"Huge source of income and employment"

Turismo Costa del Sol president Francisco Salado said: "the Sánchez government is once again trying to cover up its incompetence and lies with demagogy. As they have been unable to keep their promises on housing, as everything they have done in terms of legislation has had the opposite effect and has increased rents and prices, now they are trying to hide their lack of investment in public or protected housing by attacking, once again, tourism". Salado said residential tourism "is a huge source of income and employment for our country and for the Costa del Sol, and this measure has favoured the arrival of many residents with high purchasing power".

"It is absurd to think that the golden visa has raised the prices of housing in the cities or for young people, it is mixing the sheep with the goats and shooting, again, the wrong sector," Salado said. "This decision impoverishes our country, generates more unemployment and only benefits other countries and competing destinations," he added.

Ricardo Bocanegra, founder of the Association of Foreign Residents on the Costa del Sol said Sánchez's announcement had generated concern and pointed out the golden visa "does not influence or distort the housing market. It only contributes to attracting high-level foreign investment. The arguments put forward are poor and do not hold water". Bocanegra said, although he does not have concrete figures, the measure has been "a very important lifeline for the province, where residential tourism is a fundamental pillar of the economy. It is another stick in the wheel for this sector".

Disaster

The cabinet must still study a report presented by the minister for housing to modify the law approved by the Popular Party government in 2013. "We are going to initiate the procedure to eliminate the granting of the so-called golden visa," Sánchez said, while pointing out "this is intended to ensure that housing is a right and not merely a speculative business".

Spain's prime minister pointed out that about 94% of investor visas are linked to real estate investments (around 10,000 authorisations), with the most demand in cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia. Sánchez pointed said his government does not want for Spain the model of "speculative investment in housing, because it is a model that leads us to disaster and, above all, it leads us to a lacerating inequality, as a consequence of what we are experiencing, of the inaccessibility that many young people and families have to housing".

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