After the excitement of the Fallas in the regional capital last week thoughts are now beginning to turn to the summer and the arrival of increased numbers of tourists, particularly in the Costa Blanca. The weather is most definitely reminding us that spring is just beginning, and the hopes for another improved year in the tourism sector are high.
In order to provide a further boost to two markets which grew spectacularly last year, representatives from the Costa Blanca tourist board have been attending two tourism trade fairs in Moscow and another in Sweden this week, and despite the fact that regional president Alberto Fabra cancelled his own plans to attend one of the Moscow events in protest at the Russian decision to recognize Crimea as an independent sovereign state, the plans to promote tourism to Alicante so far remain unaffected by political developments. Little of this increased international tourism would be possible, of course, without the airports, and figures have been published which demonstrate that both the overall number of passengers arriving on international flights and the proportion of them using low-cost airlines are higher so far this year than in 2013: an increase of around 10% bodes well for the rest of the year.
On the subject of foreign interest in the region, and especially the province of Alicante, more statistics relating to the property market have been released this week showing that the level of sales in the Comunitat Valenciana in January was buoyed by the relatively good performance of its southernmost province, and that in Alicante the market is attracting more and more non-Spanish buyers. In fact, according to the latest report issued by Spain’s notaries, in 2013 almost a third of all property purchasers by foreigners were in the Comunitat Valenciana, and while the domestic market remains stagnant sales to foreigners continue to increase, with the number of British buyers reaching its highest level since 2007.
On the other side of the “thin blue line”, the Policía Local in Pilar de la Horadada are reporting great success in their attempts to establish a closer working relationship with members of the public: over 4,000 Facebook followers stand as testimony to their internet popularity!
Nature lovers will be pleased to hear that the marine reserve of Tabarca off the coast of Alicante is to be afforded extra protection, and also that an eagle survived a crash landing in the tigers’ pen at the Terra Natura park in Benidorm. Also on the subject of the natural world, there are a couple of interesting stories regarding trees in the region this week: while in Orihuela the dreaded red palm weevil has destroyed another fifty palm trees in the coastal part of the municipality, further up the coast pine trees are suffering from a different form of blight, less serious but still a worry for the authorities. In Elche, meanwhile, exponents of the traditional craft of white palm-leaf braiding are preparing over 10,000 decorative items for the forthcoming celebration of Palm Sunday on 13th March: recipients of these adornments as gifts will this year include the Queen of Spain and the Pope, no less!
inally, to Orihuela: during this week a local petrol-station owner had a Tuesday to forget, when thieves stole 26,000 in cash from him and then he crashed his car while giving chase, but the saga dominating local news over the last few weeks may at last be reaching a conclusion with the announcement that, for the moment at least, the Town Hall’s plans to re-locate the weekly Saturday market to the city centre have been shelved. Opposition to the re-location has been fierce and, it seems, practically unanimous ever since the plans were announced, and now it appears that the local councillor in charge of the municipal markets may in the end be forced to climb down. Local politics doesn’t always follow a predictable path, though: watch this space!
After the end of the Fallas and the public holiday on Wednesday it might seem reasonable to expect a lull in social and cultural activity this coming week throughout the Comunitat Valenciana, but in fact this is far from being the case and once again there is a wide variety of events and shows catering for all manner of tastes this weekend.
Jazz lovers are in for a couple of real treats, with performances by Charmin Michelle in Rojales on Saturday and Randy Greer in Torrevieja on Sunday, both of them great opportunities to hear performers who are among the most widely acclaimed vocalists on the current jazz scene.
In terms of more popularly orientated music Torrevieja is the venue for a musical Night of Tango Passion on Friday as well as a show celebrating the music of Madrid in the Centro Cultural Virgen del Carmen. In addition the innovative percussion group Percuseve will be performing with their improvised instruments created from everyday household objects in a free concert in Orihuela early on Saturday evening.
There are also many choral concerts coming up in the run-up to Easter: just scroll down through the dates to see what’s coming up as all events are listed in date order.
For those seeking more active excursions this weekend there is a 9-km guided walk along the beaches and coves of Orihuela Costa on Sunday, the hustle and bustle of the medieval market in Pilar de la Horadada starts on Friday evening and lasts all weekend, and for the real sportsmen there is a fundraising swimming marathon in Orihuela on Saturday. Even non-swimmers are welcome, though: bring along your contribution of foodstuffs for the needy and local swimmers will be on hand to do your lengths for you!
Let’s not forget that we are in Lent, and the typical dishes of the fasting period are still featured in the Sabores de Cuaresma event in Pilar de la Horadada, while an award-winning adaptation of the Passion of Christ is being held in Torrevieja on Sunday night. Rather going against the spirit of Lent, on the other hand, is the first Orihuela Tapas Route which is taking place throughout the weekend.
Finally, advance warning of a leisurely stroll in a couple of weeks’ time: the Vuelta a Rojales event is a 30-kilometre walk covering the whole municipality. Yes, thirty kilometers! Those wishing to take part might want to get their registration sorted out now and purchase appropriate footwear in advance!
Please feel free to send in any community events or charity reports you would like to have included, all contributions welcomed. Please send to [email protected] and don´t forget, the events diary is updated constantly as new events come in.
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Click Murcia weekly bulletin to read the latest round-up from across the border in the Murcia Region, where the latest news from the Paramount theme park, the Corvera airport saga, and other major topics for the Murcia region are all featured, toether with carnival programmes from across Murcia.
Spanish News round-up www.spanishnewstoday.com
British citizens living in Spain who are thinking about returning to the UK or going on holiday elsewhere this summer are advised to check expiry dates on their passports due to the changes in procedure for applying for new or replacement passports. This week the British Embassy have advised that prices for passports have been reduced due to the new procedures, but have emphasised the length of time required to update your passport as you will no longer be able to pop up to the consulate if time is running short.
Illegal immigrants on Morocco-Spain border
This week the situation in Melilla has continued to feature heavily in the news, with the biggest assault ever on the border between Spain and Morocco. Extra police have been drafted in as the exclaves wait with baited breath to see what’s coming next, all indications being that word has spread that police are no longer using anti-riot measures following the deaths in Ceuta when 15 people drowned and crossing the borders can now be achieved using sheer weight of numbers. It’s a worrying situation both for the Moroccan and Spanish authorities as the numbers waiting for their chance start to grow.
The sea has been a common link for many stories this week, as divers attempted to recover the 6 missing bodies from the wreck of fishing boat Santa Ana which sunk last week. After a frustrating week of poor weather, and having to cut a hole in the side of the boat to try and release the debris inside, only four bodies were recovered, meaning two are still missing. The search continues. And at the same time, four more bodies are now being sought after a military helicopter on a training exercise plunged into the sea off the Canary Islands.
Courts have been as busy as ever, although in Almería they’re clearing out hundreds of thousands of records to make space in municipal archives which are overwhelmed by the sheer volumes of paperwork they’re holding, while in Murcia the “Murcia watermelons case” is a perfect example of why the court systems are so cumbersome, slow and totally overwhelmed with appeals and counter-appeals, all generating……lots of pointless paperwork.
Police have launched a new initiative relating to the “Spain’s stolen babies” cases, saying that the difficulty in obtaining proof due to a combination of factors, including the fact that most of the records are to be found in a paper format, and the absence of living witnesses, means that not one case of a baby actually being stolen has yet been proven, in spite of the high profile this situation has achieved on a worldwide basis.
The Caso Gürtel has also been in the headlines as the alleged ringleaders refuse to give evidence in court, saying they have “lost confidence” in the proceedings.
ETA has remained in the headlines this week as Archbishop Desmond Tutu wades into the argument, making comments which will be welcomed by the Spanish Government like a hole in the head, saying that both the government and ETA should show themselves willing to make concessions and work together to achieve a lasting settlement.
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The first brave soul has ventured onto the new Valencia classifieds and registered an item for sale. This service offers a FREE CLASSIFIEDS FOR ITEMS UNDER 500 EUROS sold by private buyers, the Murcia classifieds over the border receiving over 20,000 visits a month, lots of sellers getting rid of unwanted items for free. Charities are also welcome to use this free classifieds service to sell items they have received through donations for free. Businesses can also advertise inexpensively either in the classifieds alone or as part of a wider promotional package.
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