Be Careful What You Wish For: Weak Mass-Tourism Threatens Spain’s Five-Year Economic Recovery

It is impossible to overstate the importance of tourism to Spain’s economy.

By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

When the hordes of tourists left Spanish beaches, resorts and cities at the end of August, there was a larger cull of local jobs than usual. Average social security affiliation fell during the month by 277,500 to 18.535 million people — a 1.47% drop. August is traditionally a poor month for the Spanish labor market, since at the end of it many summer jobs get axed in the tourism and retail sectors. This is one of the drawbacks when a national economy depends so heavily on tourism, which notoriously provides short-term, poorly paid jobs that tend to disappear the moment the tourists head home.

But this was the worst performance in a month of August since 2008, when 244,666 jobs (-1,26%) were lost, just as the global financial crisis was beginning to bite Spain.

And it is most unwelcome news in a country that still boasts one of the highest unemployment rates (15.3%) and youth unemployment rates (33.4%) in Europe, despite four consecutive years of robust economic growth.

In the last decade, every August has been negative for job creation. The smallest fall was registered in August of 2014 (-0.58%). Since then, the rate of job destruction in August has accelerated. In 2014, jobs fell by -0.78%; in 2016, by -0.80%; in 2017, by -0.97%, and this year by -1.07%, with the result that the number of people signing on for unemployment benefit in August rose by 47,000 to 3.182 million.

That’s still 200,000 fewer people than were on the dole in August 2017. And affiliation with social security in August was up 495,000 from August 2017, a year-over-year employment growth of 2.74%. So, it’s not all bad — outside tourism.

Over the past few years, Spain benefited from three main external tail-winds that have helped sustain its economic recovery: the rise of geopolitical risks affecting rival tourist destinations (Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt), the ECB’s expansionary monetary policy, and super-low oil prices. But these three factors are beginning to change direction. Tourists have been returning in droves to Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt. The ECB has tapered its QE program and will stop it entirely later this year. And oil prices have risen.

On their own, each of these reversing trends is enough to cause problems for Spain’s economy. But if they all occur around the same time, as appears to be happening, they have the potential to bring the good times — which have been good to some, not so good to many others, in particular young workers — to a grinding halt.

The impact of the resurgence of much cheaper rival tourist destinations, such as Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, is already being felt. In July, 4.9% fewer tourists came to Spain than in the same month of 2017. It’s the first drop in this key summer holiday month since 2009, when the number of international tourist arrivals declined by 4% globally in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Just as worrisome is the fact that the biggest falls were registered in the three biggest markets for Spanish tourism: the UK, France, and Germany. The number of Britons visiting in July fell by 5.6% to 2.2 million, with the weak pound making it more expensive to visit Eurozone nations like Spain. The number of French visitors shrank by 11.4% to 1.4 million, while just 1.3 million Germans visited Spain in July, 6.2% fewer than last year.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of tourism to Spain’s economy. It accounted for 15% of GDP in 2017, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. It employs, directly or indirectly, 2.8 million people — roughly 15% of the total working population. That’s more than any other industry.

The tourist industry also played a vital role in Spain’s economic recovery, accounting for around a quarter of the new jobs created since 2013. The impact on Spain’s biggest tourist regions, such as Catalonia, the Canary Islands, and the Balearic Islands, has been even more pronounced, with over a third of the new jobs created there since 2013 depending on tourism.

But that process may be about to revert as Spain’s multi-year, job-creating mass-tourist boom begins to run out of steam. In Barcelona, one of the places most affected by the recent slowdown, partly due to last year’s terrorist attack as well as the ongoing political chaos in Catalonia, year-on-year occupancy rates in the city’s hotels are down virtually every month this year. Revenues in the sector fell by as much as 10% in July compared to the same month last year, according to one industry group.

Hoteliers have also bewailed that tourists are not just arriving in fewer numbers, they’re also spending less on a per-capita basis. And that is hurting retailers and restaurateurs as well, some of whom claim that their revenues are down by as much as 30% this summer. “This is the worst summer in 15 years,” says Gabriel Jené, president of Barcelona Oberta, a Barcelona-based association of commercial interests.

Local residents whose jobs don’t depend directly on tourism are unlikely to be overly sympathetic. Many have been complaining for years about the toxic mix of externalities unfettered tourism brings in its wake, including sky-high prices and rents, overcrowding, noise, environmental degradation, overstretched public services and infrastructure, and the gradual formation of a mono-dimensional local economy. And as mentioned above, many of the jobs that mass-tourism creates are of the casual, low-paid variety that vanish into the ether the moment the tourists go home.

But be careful what you pray for: Without Spain’s recent massive boom in tourism, those jobs would not exist at all. If the current trend away from Spanish destinations towards cheaper destinations in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean accelerates, there could be far fewer jobs available when the next tourist season begins. With the Spanish economy’s three main tail winds turning into head winds and the country’s most important industry showing serious signs of strain, time may be running out for Spain’s five-year economic recovery. By Don Quijones.

Tourism gets complicated in Spain, when it comes to the concerns of local citizens and city councils. Read…  Spain’s Competition Commission Just Made Airbnb’s Day  
 

Would you like to be notified via email when WOLF STREET publishes a new article? Sign up here.

 

  53 comments for “Be Careful What You Wish For: Weak Mass-Tourism Threatens Spain’s Five-Year Economic Recovery

  1. Petunia
    Sep 6, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    I’m not surprised people don’t want to visit Spain anymore. Spanish TV and movies attracted many to the country in the past. Now every Spanish show is about drugs, crime, and illegal migrants. I stopped watching a couple of years ago, never mind visiting anytime soon.

    This is unlike Turkey that puts out entertainment that promotes the country attractively. If I had to choose between the two, I’d go to Turkey.

    • GSX
      Sep 7, 2018 at 2:18 am

      Spain is so much better than Turkey. The attitude in Turkey is overtly negative. I made 3 trips to Spain again this summer. Fantastic.

      Turkey is a joke. When you go then you know. TV is not a very accurate way to assess a destination.

    • Frederick
      Sep 7, 2018 at 4:35 am

      Petunia I live in Marmaris Turkey with my wife and I can tell you we have a bumper crop of crazy tattooed ,drunken Brits this year They seem to love the weak Lira as it lowers the cost of beer substantially What’s not to love Most of them just book an all inclusive and lay by the pool anyway so what’s the difference what country it’s in Turkey is far from perfect but life here is pretty good for me anyway

  2. Matt P
    Sep 6, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    I think overall they will still be happy those jobs go away but they must seek alternatives – some more permanent industry to fill the void.

    • 2banana
      Sep 6, 2018 at 7:55 pm

      Happy these jobs will go away with nothing to replace them…

      Did you go to the Detroit school of Economics?

      • Matt P
        Sep 7, 2018 at 1:17 am

        Considering the negatives of too many tourists – not a decent amount but the current hoards they have now – they will be the happier for it if they replace those jobs with other industries as I said.

  3. KFritz
    Sep 6, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Naked Capitalism recently posted a link about the return to base of a sizeable number of British expats from Spain, owing to the uncertainty of their future standing after Brexit. That just adds to Spain’s woes.

  4. Javert Chip
    Sep 6, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    Well, as a frequent USA visitor to Spain (most recently Barcelona in April), I enjoy a mixed civil society at all times of the day; Turkey – not so much. After dusk it’s pretty much a bunch of unshaven muslim guys (no women), and that’s before taking into account the recent anti-American political stuff.

    Yea, maybe cheaper, but so what?

    • MooMoo7665
      Sep 7, 2018 at 1:25 am

      Agreed.

    • Frederick
      Sep 7, 2018 at 4:38 am

      JavertChip That’s funny because I live here and have been coming here since 2004 and have never experienced anti Americanism but maybe aim just lucky My wife and her female cousins all go out at night so I’m not sure what you mean by no women out at night Turkey is NOT Saudi Arabia you know right?

    • Petunia
      Sep 7, 2018 at 11:02 am

      I grew up in house full of sailors, so if women are the object of your travel, Asia is the place to go.

  5. Crysangle
    Sep 6, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    Donq, maybe you have a way of better explaining the correlation in the graph at

    https://www.elindependiente.com/economia/2018/08/29/el-frenazo-del-turismo-deja-a-espana-con-casi-1-000-millones-de-euros-menos-de-pib/

    given that tourist receipts are not an indicator derived from the Spanish economy because they are funded by or derived from the economic circumstance of the visiting nationals. As you know the Spanish economy has had a distinct trajectory from that of other European countries, especially its main tourist source nations. My point is that why, if tourism is 15% gdp, does gdp act like it is in fact 100% gdp? I have my own ideas to that ( e.g. tourist receipts are in fact magnified, acting as seed money to the local economy) , but wonder if you have better explanation?

    It also needs pointing out that unemployment in the southern half of Spain is incredibly high still, well over twenty percent in many regions. The north is generally lower than the nationally rounded figure. Personally I don’t have too much sympathy with the Spanish as a whole wrt tourism, they are pretty much their own worst enemies, unfortunately it is usually the more reasonable Spaniards, and the more reasonable tourists, who end up paying…really an argument Spain is having with itself though.

    • Sep 7, 2018 at 6:57 am

      Hi Crysangle,

      Interesting graph. Tbh, the relatively close correlation between the growth of Spain’s GDP and the growth of Spain’s tourist industry shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. When an industry contributes around 15% to a country’s GDP, its evolution is going to have a major impact on the evolution of GDP. This is as true for, say, the financial sector in the UK and the car manufacturing industry in Germany as it is for the tourist sector in Spain.

      Many of the cities and regions of Spain that have contributed significantly to Spain’s economic recovery are also massive tourist destinations. In my central neighborhood of Barcelona the number of local shops and businesses that depend for a large part of their receipts on tourists has increased by at least two or three fold. Many of them are pretty new. If the current trend of declining tourist numbers continues, some of those businesses will close. And Barcelona has a much more diversified economy than the smaller tourist destinations!

      The point you make about diverging unemployment across Spain’s regions is a very good one. I wrote an article in April 2015 showing that the five regions worst affected by unemployment in the EU were all Spanish. They were (in descending order): Andalusia (unemployment rate: then 34.8%, now 23%); the Canary Islands (32.4%, 20.1%); Ceuta (31.9%, 29.5%); Extremadura (29.8%, 23.9%) and Castilla La Mancha (29%, 19.1%).

      So, while conditions have improved significantly (except for in Ceuta), they’re still shockingly bad.

      Here’s a link to the article I mentioned:

      https://wolfstreet.com/2015/04/23/don-quijones-5-regions-in-eu-with-worst-unemployment-are-in-spain/

      • Crysangle
        Sep 7, 2018 at 9:28 am

        Thank you, and that in way reinforces my point maybe? When officially you read “Tourism makes up 15% gdp” what we are being told is that other activity , translated in lay terms by the press in “a new economic paradigm” as “Exports are up! Spain diversifies! Property has bottomed and is generating new wealth!” etc. is responsible for the other 85% of gdp. This simply is not so, I know it is not so. The version of indirect gdp that is included in that 15% must be very strict, because at ground level, and my base is near Malaga on the coast so I have a clear view of how locals act, nothing goes round until tourist receipts get into people’s pockets. With construction still very low compared to the boom, there is just very little that can be considered genuinely productive going on besides tourism. Even out of season it is residential tourism that brings an inflow of money. I try to think what else people do in the region besides service each other (if they have an inflow of money to afford that) and tourists, and all I can come up with is olive farming and some maritime as income sources…and government spending. So given that the debt in Spain is maxed now against the private and government, the only main new inflow of unencumbered cash is likely to be tourism, every other available income source, which in meaningful terms signifies reliable income from well established purely local industry, is likely already fully allocated and is not capable of influencing change in gdp.

        The correlation between tourism and gdp in the chart just tells me that for a very large part of Spain’s population, for a very large part of its economic wheel, tourist receipts completely dwarf the other local activity in terms of effect on total activity. I know my view is partly biased because I have watched my local town go from small village to the most densely populated municipio in Spain in the space of two decades, and that I know 90 % of that happening is through tourist income and debt, and that the only real income it has is tourism, no matter what picture of the region, Spain, the world is used as backdrop. It just startles me a little to see that so strongly reflected in national figures, even if I know that tourism has much more weight on the economy than is publicly admitted…. Spain is beautiful but tourism is its dirty secret don’t reconcile very well for some reason I guess.

      • Cynic
        Sep 7, 2018 at 9:59 am

        Nor should it be overlooked that even in the richer regions of Spain, with much better employment stats, the kids are very poorly paid when they get jobs – and often insecure.

        I’m looking to buy in the Pyrenees (Navarre) where my grandmother was born and 99.9% of my surviving family live, and if you are buyer for a house, it’s great – lots of discounting.

        But the kids are renting, if they can get out of the family apartment at all.

  6. Sep 6, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    Doesn’t the drop off of Tourists from the UK, France, and Germany say more about their own circumstances than it does Spain’s?

    • MC01
      Sep 7, 2018 at 1:23 am

      Tourism is very fashion-driven and fashions across Europe’s largest tourist markets (which would be the UK and Germany, followed at a long distance by The Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia) are shifting.
      Even destinations in Spain are changing: Madrid used to be all the rage, now as far as tourists go is a backwater. Barcelona’s star is starting to dim while Palma de Mallorca is rising fast.

      Bear in mind that none of this would have been possible without the boom in no-frills airlines, entirely fueled by over a decade of ferocious financial repression.
      The first no-frills airlines have started to drop dead at the side of the road (Air Berlin, SkyWork etc), and this was at the absolute bottom of the credit cycle.
      With credit conditions already tightening, higher fuel prices and, far more critical, a boom in competitors based in low-wage corporate heavens such as Poland, Lithuania, Romania and Turkey I predict the road to cheap vacations will be strewn with the corpses of a lot of no-frills airlines.

      • Frederick
        Sep 7, 2018 at 4:41 am

        MC01 I spent 10 days in Poland in August and it was wonderful I will be back in Eastern Europe next summer for sure I’m thinking Hungary Lake Balaton Perhaps

    • fajensen
      Sep 7, 2018 at 1:42 am

      Possibly. From May till August, Sweden, Denmark, the UK and Norway had better weather than Spain. With the SEK and GBP circling the drain, more people than usual might have preferred a local vacation instead.

      PS –
      I’d visit Iran before Tunisia or Egypt! It’s a lot safer there for the infidel. Turkey is not a nice place anymore, there are no women out after dark. Only dodgy-looking men. I see enough of them in Copenhagen, which is closer.

      • GSX
        Sep 7, 2018 at 2:26 am

        Well said. Petunia needs to try doing a bit of research. Reality is quite in favor of Spain.

        • Petunia
          Sep 7, 2018 at 10:43 am

          As a Latina I consider Spain the motherland, however, the Spanish media only portrays the underbelly on its exported entertainment. As another commentator said, travel is a fashionable experience to a high degree. Therefore, the entertainment industry in Spain has made a conscious decision to promote the vulgar and the criminal, over the more wholesome aspects of the country. I find it so distasteful that I no longer watch any of it, and it has colored my opinion of the place in general.

          As far as the reality of it all, many articles and comments here have painted an unpleasant picture of the Spanish economy and the current state of affairs. I have seen nothing to make me disbelieve it.

          Maybe Turkey is not such a paradise, but they surely care enough about their image to promote it favorably, and it seems to be working from the stats.

        • Arizona Slim
          Sep 7, 2018 at 11:34 am

          Knowing how to speak Spanish makes for a very pleasant trip to Spain.

          Minding your manners also helps. One thing that Americans forget is that other countries are a lot more formal than this one. When interacting with Spanish-speaking people, I find that my “por favor” and “gracias” get quite a workout.

        • Crysangle
          Sep 7, 2018 at 5:32 pm

          Petunia – Spain is definitely not a terrible place to visit, but it is more uptight than it used to be, has lost a lot of its natural charm and spontaneity. This is partly to do with just too much tourism, partly shifts in social perceptions, economy, politics. Seriously, a lot of places I once knew well for being relaxed and cheery just are no more, certain “good moods” found in society seem gone and not to return. If you turn up and look at it without knowing this, you would probably not notice or think too much the less of the country comparing it with say northern Europe or the US. It is all relative I suppose. Trouble is I cannot think of anywhere I know to recommend that has escaped from this shift, though there are still a lot of nice places to visit all the same…just not the same, and not as good imo, as they once were. The country might easily turn for the worse though, it has had a pause but still has trouble redefining itself in any meaningful way…or maybe we are just in a new norm and this is how it is. Who knows.

      • Cynic
        Sep 7, 2018 at 3:00 am

        Quite true: the only danger in Iran is getting stuck there if a major war breaks out, but the daily risk factor in the other muslim states is indeed much higher.

        As for street violence, robberies, etc, Spain is getting increasingly insecure, and guess who the culprits are……?

      • Gio
        Sep 7, 2018 at 3:44 am

        Not so sure about that.

        Here in the UK the weather is too unpredictable to plan a vacation more than a week in advance and the only nice summer place (in my personal opinion), which is Cornwall, gets ridiculously expensive when the weather is nice.

        • Arizona Slim
          Sep 7, 2018 at 11:36 am

          I’m an American of Cornish descent. When I last visited during the 1970s, the locals complained bitterly about the “congestion.” That’s “heavy car traffic” to us Yanks.

          I was advised to revisit my ancestral homeland during the spring or fall, and, if I was really into the cultural thing, during September’s Gorsedd Kernow. It’s a festival of the bards, and it’s quite the happening.

      • jeremias
        Sep 7, 2018 at 3:51 am

        Denmark had better weather than Spain this Spring?
        I bet that beaches in Denmark could be beautiful but how about currents,wind and temperature?
        Do you have a bath of more that five minutes there?
        I mean Alborg doesnt reach 20ºC68ºF in summer but Valencia surpass that easily.
        May be you find >20ºC quite hot and disgusting so Aalborg is “better”?
        If you visit Andalucia in december you will enjoy 55ºF 15ºC and beaches are not crowded at all.

      • Frederick
        Sep 7, 2018 at 4:43 am

        Fajensen You Too Huh posting non truths about Turkey There are plenty of woman out after dark here Actually we feel a lot safer here than in many places in the states to be honest “Dodgy” looking men Do you mean with darker skin than you than yes

      • MC01
        Sep 7, 2018 at 7:04 am

        LOL, I think many many places in Europe have a rather similar afterdark crowd these days.

        Second the advice about Iran, they aren’t that bad to make business with either if you get pass some local oddities. Oh yes: and their pastries and sweets are completely out of this world. Their chai is great as well but may be a bit too strong for those who like delicate, English-style black teas.

  7. steve
    Sep 7, 2018 at 3:08 am

    Just a minute, every day we are told able overtourism in spain, with tourists causing problems due to overcrowding in the major spanish cities.

    They cannot have it both ways.

    • jeremias
      Sep 7, 2018 at 4:32 am

      In spanish it is said: Soplar y sorber no se puede a la vez=blowing and sipping can not be done at the same time.

      • Crysangle
        Sep 7, 2018 at 10:04 am

        …or to want both the milk and the butter.

  8. Michael Morris
    Sep 7, 2018 at 4:00 am

    Also have to add the Air BnB madness which in Malaga, where I live, has raised the price of property rentals by at least 30% in last couple of years. So rentals are way more expensive now than they were in 2008. How the low paid can afford a flat in Malaga is beyond me.

    • Crysangle
      Sep 7, 2018 at 10:19 am

      ….raised the price of long term rentals for locals because more flats are kept off that market for short term holiday lets. Just clarifying the obvious. I remember reading around 2010 the suburbs were emptying because foreign labourers were leaving, but quite possible that that space is filled by other by now. There was quite a bit of construction to serve Malaga in the surrounding area also, Alhaurin and Cartama for example, but I guess those are full too…I know several people who drive long distance each day for work. It is all quite chaotic, and Malaga city is just a magnet, due to its size and centrality more than anything.

  9. raxadian
    Sep 7, 2018 at 5:31 am

    South American countries whose currencies went lower compared to the Euro are gonna get more tourism too, as long the place is stable enough..Argentina and Brazil are likely to get more European tourists, unlike let’s say… Venezuela.

  10. tim
    Sep 7, 2018 at 7:07 am

    Where I live – in the Balearics – there have been markedly fewer tourists this summer than last. The big drop is from Britain, only party offset by increased numbers from Germany and mainland Spain.

  11. Paulo
    Sep 7, 2018 at 8:10 am

    What a horrible state of economic affairs when a country has to vie up for tourism in order to survive. I feel sorry for the residents.

    Part-time jobs at low pay, hordes of people taking over the amenities of what makes a place good to live in, prices are driven up, and people people everywhere.

    I remember what the west coast of Vancouver Island used to be like before the ‘tourists’ discovered it. Now, it is absoutely horrible to visit or live there for all of the points mentioned above. Locals stay home. Most of the tourist operators and workers are transplants, with maybe a few locals picking up some work.

    Furthermore, tourism travel is one of the worst and unnecessary contributors to climate change.

    regarding: Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt,…as being the new and improved top rivals for the tourist crumbs. Think about it. Countries once the centre of culture and world power are now content to shepard over weight bulging grey haired tourists to their most revered possessions, all for the sake of some driving jobs, table waiting, or beach umbrella rentals. It seems to me it wasn’t too long ago when militants machine gunned busses on the way to the pyramids. Where do toursits go, all-inclusive beaches that conveniently keep reality outside the gates?

    I remember trying to walk on Mexican beaches and being glad to be there; decades ago. No all-inclusives, rather a fishing village, nevertheless, little urchins following us trying to sell two-packs of chicklets. It broke my heart and I have never returned.

    Ask a native Hawaiian how much they like tourism?

    I don’t know what the answer is for employment these days? I live in logging country and not too many years ago our community supported hundreds of jobs compared to the automated and streamlined version of today. Fishermen used to be unionized and made a good living. The fish were processed in local canneries and logs were milled up in local mills. Now, people from ‘outside’ are arriving, buying up local land and trying to install campgrounds. There are line ups of motorhomes at the local gas station, which coincidentally, is now owned by an outside corporation.

    God help us all as the once proud worker, farmer, artisan, business owner is now forced into the tourist industry out of desperation. There has to be a better way to share the wealth and prosper as a country.

    regards

    • Cynic
      Sep 7, 2018 at 9:44 am

      I agree about the decline in real work, but I’m simply delighted to see Turks, Egyptians, Moroccans, etc, in servile tourist jobs: when they had empires, they were among the vilest of the vile.

      For instance, look up the huge trade in castrated African (and earlier Iranian, European) boys to supply eunuchs – going strong into the 20th century.

      Oh, and little fair-haired girls to be raped and enslaved, too, their families murdered.

      Most ‘ancient and proud civilizations’ just brought misery to those around them. My Basque ancestors were hunted through the Pyrenees by the Arabs – just ‘barbarians’ you see.

      Karma exists. :)

      • Nicko2
        Sep 7, 2018 at 12:01 pm

        Tourist jobs are highly respected – they bring in hard currency, and support entire families. We live in the post-globalized world. Capital moves to where there is growth….and it’s emerging economies that show the most promise.

    • jb
      Sep 7, 2018 at 6:22 pm

      Paulo your summation is spot on. On a side note i wish i traveled more when i was younger and had the money. I could have witnessed destinations that still had their charm, culture and heritage intact.

  12. Gene
    Sep 7, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I saw a half hour documentary on RT recently on the flooding of tourists into Barcelona, Venice, and Dubrovnik. Those three cities are more and more resembling theme parks than places to live. Massive cruise ships enter every day, creating erosion problems. Even walking is impeded by crowds of people. Venice has added turnstiles. It’s not uncommon to see anti-tourist signs.

    • Cynic
      Sep 7, 2018 at 9:48 am

      The Venetian maritime empire was also one of the cruellest in history; they enslaved and brutally exploited peasants in their conquered territories – Crete was one open-air prison camp.

      The wonderful architecture came from that vile system : now it’s their curse.

      Another case of well-deserved Karma?

  13. Tinky
    Sep 7, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Though far less important than Spain economically, tourism here in Portugal, where I live, has been peaking in recent years, and accounted for ~16% of GDP in 2017.

    The negative effects are already being felt in the most popular destinations, including Lisbon and Porto, as locals are increasingly being priced out of both the commercial and private property markets.

    On a positive note, though, the city planners in Lisbon have been very wise to limit access of the big name multinational corporations (e.g. Starbucks, etc.), which has fostered a very friendly environment for both smaller, independent entrepreneurs, and visitors alike.

    • Crysangle
      Sep 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm

      I have spent a total of a couple years in Portugal, mostly in the south between Faro and Portimao, am there now. A big difference to Spain. Though the country is less well kept in certain ways, even the tourist areas in the south have mostly avoided anything like the costa del sol boom, which is a good thing imo. Albufeira is maybe the closest but it is still nothing like to the extent of Spain. Portimao is built high but well kept in general, Faro is more traditional in spite of its size. Towns like Silves are a mixture of circumstance, but not tourist traps at all, and inland is something abandoned. The Portuguese don’t have quite the same enthusiastic mood as the Spanish, or those in Andalucia at least, are more independent in a considering way to my view. As a republic the civic side is different also, which sort of explains how traditional economy gets some priority. There is a large new mall opened around Faro and I know competition with local business by malls is a major theme here…and there are only a few small other malls scattered around.Me I don’t mind going back in time by being in Portugal, reminds me something of how Spain once was, it is getting a bit stupid there as far as I am concerned. The other main difference is how there is not the ethnic tensions (to encompass the all) Spain has. The country has a large enough returnee african composition that seems at home, a very small muslim population compared with other countries, which it simply does not make any great welcome or allowance for, as I suppose it should be….efforts at that, as per the mosque in Lisbon, are contested. So quite a reasonable country all in all, tucked out of the way, behind in organisation but probably the better for it in many a sense, and a lot of natural beauty and history to search out. I just hope they manage to have any improvement to the country happen in a measured way.

      • Tinky
        Sep 8, 2018 at 6:11 am

        I chose Portugal as a relocation country for some of the reasons that you mention. And yes, it is very different from Spain, and largely, in my view, in favorable respects.

        • Crysangle
          Sep 8, 2018 at 8:43 am

          I agree. Where Portugal hasn’t it to a higher standard, in Spain you get messed around and a lot of hassle, at least the Portuguese don’t much pretend they know what they are doing when they don’t. In Spain there are way too many people being in charge, competing with each other. You end up getting trampled one way or another. Portugal is more relaxed in that way, for Spain I could give an endless list of stories for what goes on there. I still like Spain a lot, but it is not the place it once was, so I will probably set up in Portugal also eventually just to have “an escape”. Summers are cooler here but for some reason winters are much more humid, so escaping the crowds in Spain over summer, winter in Spain, seems like a good combination… not sure really but something along those lines :-) . Also the kind of property that suits me is still not expensive at all, just the tourist areas have really jacked up prices…and am not sure if that will last either.

        • Tinky
          Sep 8, 2018 at 12:31 pm

          I don’t think that the recent, sharp rise in property values will last. Ans yes, outside of the obvious places, property remains very attractively priced in Portugal. I’m currently looking at properties between Lisbon and Porto.

          I also believe that Portugal will be a relatively safe and good place to live if the impending crisis is as severe as it could be. the population is largely very kind and helpful, and the middle-class hasn’t forgotten how to survive tough times. Good family support, as well.

          If you’re ever in Lisbon, let me know, and perhaps we could get together for a coffee and a chat.

        • Crysangle
          Sep 8, 2018 at 8:44 pm

          That is true also. In Spain local society can be very friendly, but it is also very difficult or awkward once you get to a certain point. I don’t know where this comes from, it is not just a question of proper manners/discipline, there is a more clan like attitude than in Portugal. The Spanish are good for family support also, and I don’t want to knock Spain too much as some of my best friends, best people I have met, are Spanish. The main difference in terms of safety to me is that in Spain the old antagonisms of the last century are still very palpable in society, there are factions there, on both sides, who carry the past hate into the present. It isn’t just falange vs catalan, many ordinary Spanish have venemously expressed their distaste of certain other Spaniards to me, and it is not something you are really allowed to not take sides on, it can get very difficult when you are mixed in to local society…too long to explain here, and that is a kind offer so I will page you here somehow if I am ever that way, or vice versa…long as you are ok with someone who is just their ordinary self :-).

          I’ll tag on a recent local story at the end of comments that captures the antagonisms from a different perspective, for donq et al if not for you.

  14. Nicko
    Sep 7, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Well, I’m living on the Red Sea here in Egypt. Tourist arrivals are up around 100% year on year. Lots of Russians, Brits, Europeans and Chinese. About 50 resorts and hotels are under construction, with billions in investment, boom times are back.

  15. Ian
    Sep 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    Spain in general was of the view that hordes of illiterate, broke economic chancers were just fine while well heeled tourists spending lots of dough was a complete drag. My stomach hurts from laughing, pass me a tissue my eyes are streaming.

  16. J.henderson
    Sep 7, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Another great article thank you Wolf and Don.
    Airbnb,making a difference? Numbers down from UK,arrivals down?i m not sure about that but short term rentals have disappeared.Owners would take any short term monies not now though the power is back with owners.

  17. Crysangle
    Sep 8, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    This is a bit o/t but it shows a side to some of the tensions regarding tourism, or more closely the traditionalist/nationalist vs. the local technocratic governance that is being increasingly applied. Just as in Cataluña there is regional government vs. national, in Spain localities tend to build up their own, often corrupt, goin on militias in the form of local police. The local police are answerable to the mayor, are also obliged to fulfil judicial request. They used to be called municipales, basically running errands, traffic etc., but they increasingly are being armed up, now called locales. They have a not so good reputation, stories, printed or otherwise, there are many. The other police forces will not accept them in their ranks…the guardia civil have a reputation for being the bad boys, but they are generally also disciplined .

    I said shows at the beginning, but unfortunately the video in question was forced to be removed. It only showed a citizen questioning local police about why they were fining an old local selling roses, when right next to there there were migrants lining the pavement with their goods. He then got fined for civily questioning the police, and once apart gave a talk on how disgusted he was by the manner of the police and townhall, how this kind of attitude was becoming endemic, how he could not believe this in his country, said nothing terrible.

    Well his short video went viral, and part of the many commentators who turned on the mayor online issued death threats etc. to her (and she is a right wing mayor) . This is an article on that (language warning) :

    https://www.diariosur.es/costadelsol/alcaldesa-fuengirola-denuncia-20180828220848-nt.html

    This I am writing just to try to show a little how complex the different matrices are in real life in Spain. Here you have tourist orientated technocratic right wing, mixed with locals, migrants, nationalists, local police attitudes and more, turning into a scene of potential conflict. When I say potential I don’t mean it as an exaggeration, if you look at other similar tensions, whether clans in la linea, past left wing demonstrations, confrontations by the right in cataluña etc., when the Spanish decide to have their say that way they just go ahead…I have seen unmentioned local riots just over cases of corruption.

    Well I guess that doesn’t enlighten anyone too much, and that would be because circumstance in Spain is not as one side vs. the other as is often portrayed, but instead an often chaotic mix of different ambitions and sentiments over which no one really has a full control.

    • Tinky
      Sep 9, 2018 at 5:05 am

      Interesting – thanks.

Comments are closed.