4 Jul, 2024 @ 08:30
2 mins read

Hotel bosses in Malaga blast ‘irresponsible’ anti-tourism protests for ‘demonising our main industry’ 

MALAGA’S hotel sector has launched a campaign to woo back its key customers after fears that recent bouts of turismofobia have scared foreign visitors away.

The city was rocked by protests last Saturday after demonstrators gathered in Plaza de la Merced, where they unfurled a banner reading Malaga para vivir, no sobrevivir (Malaga for living, not surviving).

La Merced, where the Picasso Museum is located, is one of the worst affected neighbourhoods in Malaga, with 68.91% of the housing being used for tourist apartments.

But the Malaga Association of Hoteliers (Mahos) vehemently denied there was any link between tourism and unaffordable housing in the province.

READ MORE: Marbella launches probe into number of tourist flats after ‘historic’ protests in Malaga

Javier Frutos, the president of Mahos, (centre) with the general assembly of Mahos, warned tourism has nothing to do with the shortage of housing or infrastructure

“Linking the housing problem in Malaga with tourism is a mistake,” said Javier Frutos, the president of Mahos.

“To demonise our main industry for electoral or ideological gains is irresponsible,” he continued, suggesting there could be political motivations behind the recent anti-tourism protests.

“This partisan campaign against tourism has meant that the protest on Saturday has been used for purposes other than those for which it was supposed to be.”

As with the mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, Mahos pointed instead to last year’s housing law as the main culprit for the shocking housing situation.

“One of the main long-standing problems is the Urban Leasing Law, which creates legal risk for landlords if they rent out long-term,” Frutos argued after Mahos’ general assembly, where this manifesto against tourismophobia was unanimously approved.

He urged politicians to refrain from using tourism as a scapegoat for other issues and focus on constructive solutions that benefit both residents and visitors.

READ MORE: Malaga mayor breaks silence after ‘historic’ anti-tourism protest saw thousands of locals take to the streets at the weekend

Protests last Saturday, June 29, saw Malaga residents unfurl a banner reading: Malaga to live, not survive

Instead, Mahos has launched a campaign to welcome visitors and highlight the industry’s crucial role in the region’s economy.

The association has put up a series of multilingual posters expressing a warm welcome to tourists and emphasising the positive aspects of tourism, such as job creation and economic growth. 

Representatives from the Málaga Provincial Council, the Junta, and the Malaga town hall all gave the campaign their backing.

Frutos further stressed the need to foster a better understanding among Malaga’s residents of the symbiotic relationship between a thriving tourism industry and their economic well-being.

It is feared that the rise of ‘turismofobia’ could not just scare Malaga’s lifeblood away but also damage the province’s reputation in the eyes of the world.

Competing tourist destinations, the association warns, might capitalise on such negativity to attract visitors away from the Costa del Sol.

Despite their concerns, Mahos representatives remain optimistic. 

It believes that the vast majority of Malaga residents recognise the value of tourism and do not subscribe to the tourismophobia narrative. 

The association also acknowledges the genuine challenges regarding housing affordability and emphasised the need for solutions that address these issues without jeopardising the vital tourism sector.

Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? walter@theolivepress.es

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