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Sequía

I'm a summer girl. Whenever all those #hygge posts start flooding social media in every year's October, I'm just sad that summer is over. I choose my holiday destinations mostly for two things: warm temperatures and little (if not any) rain. For most of my life, it hasn't ever occured to me that there might be a problem with this combination.

 

As a tourist, you just enjoy the sunshine and cherish the beauty of the country. You enjoy the local food. Late breakfasts with exotic fruits that you can eat without any bad conscience because it's grown locally, right? Of course, it would be great if you're either close to the sea or have access to a pool, so you can cool down on a hot summer day. 

Tourism in spain - some numbers

Source: SchengenVisa News
Source: SchengenVisa News

Beautiful Spain, you infatuate us. Data released by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) revealed that in May 2023, Spain welcomed the record-breaking number of 8.2 million visitors. The Balearic Islands was the number one tourist destination, accounting for 21.9% of the total arrivals, closely followed by Catalonia (21.8%) and Andalusia (14.7%).

 

At this point, I'd like to state that I'm not writing this article to spoil anybody's holiday plans or even to stop anybody from visiting this gorgeous country. With such numbers, it is obvious that a lot of people depend on the tourism industry and it is absolutely not my intention to ruin their businesses.

 

I'd just like to raise awareness for a topic that's bubbling in the background, sometimes even kept away from the public on purpose to not scare any visitor away. However, I think it is important to always inform yourself of your travel destination. You're a guest and you may need to adapt to certain circumstances. So if the showers at your beach are turned off, here's why.

Drought in Spain - some pictures

Embalse El Limonero, Málaga
Embalse El Limonero, Málaga

Presa del Agujero - 95 m high and supposed to store water from the river Guadalmedina and serve it to the residents of Málaga, the second biggest city in Andalusia. A dirty puddle is all that's left. Somebody disposed an old washing machine in the dry river bed. Rated with 4.1 stars on alltrails.com and praised as a getaway from the city and a good hiking spot, it looks more like a waste dump. Empty bottles, old tires and other garbage is to be found where there should be water. Signs of car races. Bathtub rings.

 

When I was standing there, at the actual river bank with no water in sight, feeling the +40 °C making me dizzy, I couldn't help but wonder if the end of the world would look like this. If I had to choose one word to describe the scenery, it would be apocalyptic.

 

Catalonia and Andalusia, two of the top three tourist destinations, are experiencing a historical drought. First restrictions are already in place: the watering of lawns is forbidden, the water use for the agricultural sectore was cut to 40 %, some communities won't get any water at all during the nights anymore. Fountains in the cities are turned off, so are showers at the beach. The authorities are still hesitant to prohibit the refilling of pools for the tourists although that would be a reasonable decision but so far, the fear to scare away tourists is bigger. 

Still an eye-catcher but not in use anymore: a beautifully designed shower at the beach of La Herradura, Andalusia.
Still an eye-catcher but not in use anymore: a beautifully designed shower at the beach of La Herradura, Andalusia.

There is a variety of reasons behind the drought which would provide enough material for a separate blog post. Climate change surely is one factor, maybe the decisive factor that fastens the development and reveals what has been going wrong for years: mismanagement of ressources, neglicence of infrastructure, the extensive use of water in the tourism and agricultural sector.

As far as the eye can see: greenhouses at Almeria, Andalusia. The region is also known as the fruit garden of Europe.
As far as the eye can see: greenhouses at Almeria, Andalusia. The region is also known as the fruit garden of Europe.

Sequía is the Spanish word for drought and it won't disappear anytime soon. So how do we - as tourists - react to it? Not going there anymore? Come on, we love España and as stated before: this report is not meant to blame the tourism businesses. In fact, a lot of them are already trying to improve and thereby contribute to water saving programs. How can you identify these?

 

Some booking websites installed a rating system for sustainable travel. On booking.com for example, this rating includes information on how the property is saving water. Look for these when booking a hotel room or appartment. Once you're on the spot, try to reduce your own water use to a minimum. Don't let the water run while brushing your teeths and avoid extensive showering. These are small things only which don't have a big influence on our level of recreation, right? Last but not least: show some understanding. If the beach shower is not running, now you know why. There is no point in writing an angry comment on Google or in blaming the travel agency. Sequía has come to stay and we all need to adapt to it. 

Travel Sustainable - rating system on booking.com
Travel Sustainable - rating system on booking.com

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