News March, 23rd 2010 by

Spain to rescue battered beaches

It has been a long, wet winter in southern Spain, the wettest on record, but now the Spanish government has announced an 80-million Euro rescue package to help local governments, businesses, and residents recover in time for the spring tourist season.

This year’s winter storms and floods in Andalucia damaged or destroyed homes and seaside businesses in 37 localities, along with hundreds of kilometres of beaches littered with debris. Agriculture and fishing, two sectors that are essential to tourism, also suffer, with as much as 23 percent of  agricultural land damaged by floods, resulting in an 11 percent decrease in employment hours for agricultural workers.

Fishing catches are down by 10 percent, as well, with workers losing 29 days due to severe storms at sea.

The aid package, which covers about half of estimated losses, is not without controversy. The Spanish union UGT is demanding that the national government directly intervene to assist workers. Local politicians are complaining that the government is moving too slowly, with Easter tourism season only two weeks away.

The national Ministry of Tourism has also admitted that very little can be accomplished before Easter, calling the aid bill a mere “washing of the face” (“lavado de cara”). A spokesperson for the tourism ministry has said that the funds will likely only pay for removal of debris from beaches. 

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