The recent terror attacks in Tunisia have highlighted the need for vigilance while on holiday, and although realistically it is impossible to stop the “lone wolf” style of terror attack, efforts have been greatly increased in not only Spain, but also the rest of Europe, to highlight the vigilance of the forces of law and order.
Spain welcomed 64 million tourists last year, generating 11% of the total GDP of the country, so tourism is a vital part of Spanish economic activity.
Visitors come to Spain for a huge variety of factors, one of them being its reputation as a “safe” destination and Spain has a far lower crime rate than the EU average, in spite of the efforts of pickpockets and airport scammers to part tourists from their luggage, wallets and passports.
Over 15 million British chose Spain as their destination last year, so although there are naturally incidents, the percentage of those who find themselves victims of crime is absolutely minimal and the vast majority of those travelling to Spain enjoy a crime-free travel experience (although the price of coffee in some seaside resorts is nothing short of daylight robbery!).
For economic reasons alone the national government places great importance on ensuring that visitors this summer are not worried by the possibility of events similar to the recent terrorist attacks in northern African and France, so has amplified measures to protect tourists and seek out those involved in terror activities who may be present in Spain.
Every year a national safe tourism plan operates, with larger numbers of police drafted in to coastal areas to look after not only foreign, but also national tourists, and this year an extra measure included for the summer of 2015 is the service being offered jointly in Spain this summer by the combined forces of the Guardia Civil, the French and Moroccan Gendarmeries, the Portuguese National Republican Guard, the German police and the Italian Carabinieri. Mixed patrols are on duty reinforcing citizen safety controls in Andalucía, the Comunidad Valenciana, the Balearics, the Canaries and Galicia, and focusing particularly on the favourite destinations for foreign visitors in each of these regions, including certain beaches, hotels and residential and resort-style developments.
The aim is not only to increase the presence of police in these areas, but also to promote international collaboration in the fight against terrorism, while at the same time providing better service for foreign visitors through the provision of a multi-lingual service. At the same time, six Guardia Civil officers will be on duty this summer in France and Italy, the chosen destinations being Venice, Amalfi, Sorrento and the Loire valley, with two more officers involved in supporting the organization of the Tour de France.
Several English language publications have produced articles warning potential visitors to Spain of the increased threat to their safety should they choose to holiday here, some of which could be described as “somewhat sensationalist” although nobody can deny that an act of terror could be committed anywhere in the world, and it is impossible to provide every member of the public with a bodyguard just in case.
The Spanish Interior Minister, Jorge Fernández, confirmed on Monday that Spain would maintain its level 4 alert “in spite of the fact that there had been no activity out of the ordinary” in the country, reminding the nation that ”no country is immune from risk.”
He also stated that the 48 suspected Yihadists who have been detained by the security forces so far this year were “a good reason why citizens of Spain should have faith in their police service although we are always under threat and there’s no such thing as zero risk.”
The British Government updated its travel warnings worldwide following the terror attack in Tunisia and on its website reminds potential visitors to Spain(and other holiday destinations ) that, “There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. The Spanish authorities take measures to protect visitors, but you should be vigilant and follow the instructions of the local authorities.
The Basque terrorist organisation ETA has been less active in recent years and has not mounted any attacks since 2009. In October 2011 ETA announced a “definitive cessation of armed activity”. ETA’s last major attack was in 2006. British Nationals have not been a target of ETA terrorism. There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
In 2015, Spanish police have disrupted a number of groups suspected of recruiting individuals to travel to Syria and Iraq. Some of them expressed an intention to carry out attacks in Europe. Spanish authorities believe that a number of Spanish nationals have successfully travelled to Syria and Iraq.”
All Text and Images are Subject to Copyright