Spain is currently the world’s second-biggest tourist destination after France, with the population of 45 million being bolstered every year by as many as 60 million foreign visitors, 80% of whom flock to the coasts. Tourism contributes more than 11 per cent of Spain’s GDP and employs more than two million people. These figures are going to fall in the next few years because of the economic crisis, but the sector faces a much greater long-term threat, that of climate change. According to the Fundación Empresa y Clima “the changes are going to be far more drastic than those caused by the current economic crisis”. Impact are likely to include higher temperatures, loss of beaches due to sea level rise, loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, the reduction of water resources and the increase in forest fires. El Mundo
Meanwhile, the EU has delivered a stinging criticism of Spain’s property laws, allowing urban sprawl and corruption, voting overwhelmingly to freeze hundreds of millions of euros in Spain’s EU funding if the Spanish government does not tackle what the parliament condemned as “extensive urbanisation” practices. BBC
And again, the long-term prospects for the traditional Spanish tourist industry may not be rosy. Over-development of the country’s coasts has seen them lose their much of their appeal for tourists. Some statistics:
- In the six years between 2000 and 2006, urban development within the first two kilometers of the coast of Huelva increased by 48.1 percent.
- Urban sprawl in Valencia increased by 53.1 percent. In just six years, concrete was blighting one out of every 10 previously untouched kilometers of Valencia’s coastline.
- In Alicante and in the Andalusian province of Málaga, more than half of the first two kilometers of coast are under concrete. In Barcelona, just 32 percent of the coastline remains undeveloped. Across Spain, coastal urban sprawl has increased by 22 percent in just six years.