The wonderful city of Malaga

One of the worlds most popular tourist destinations

Guest post by Mark Barry

Malaga - Gateway to the Costa del Sol
Malaga – Gateway to the Costa del Sol

Malaga, situated in Andalusia, Spain, is one of the major tourist attractions on earth today. The place carries great significance as it encircles the memories of one of the greatest painter mankind has ever known – Pablo Picasso. Presenting glorious history of 2800 years, the city is now considered among the oldest cities of the world.

Let’s explore more about the amazing Spanish city, its major attractions, social life, entertainment and nightlife and most importantly the overwhelming history of civilization Malaga features.

History of Malaga: stranger than fiction, more colourful than dreams

The city is located on the shore of Mediterranean sea. The city was first discovered and explored by Phoenicians in 770 BC. The name Malaga (Malaka) originates from Finish meaning salt; the reason behind such naming refers to the salty fish invariably caught and sold on the shore and nearby vicinity.

Later, the city revolved around imperialism, monarchy, military governance and autonomous governance through the last 1500 years. First, the Romans acquired the city, then the Arabs; later it was taken over by Catholic monarchs. Finally in the 1960s, the city attained it’s current status of being an autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.

Entertainment and nightlife in Malaga

Malaga is a vibrant city featuring live Spanish music, enticing culture, liberal thoughts and ethnicities. There are plenty of gay and lesbian hotspots around the city. There are numerous bars, nightclubs, music clubs and many more. Theatres here present Spanish culture through the cinemas, dramas and documentaries. Attraction parks here introduce the tourists to Malaga’s exclusive crypto zoology.

At the same time, you can attend the flamenco shows, visit the go carting tracks, Malaga football club and many more sights. The city presents much historical evidence of it’s evolution through thousands of years. A car ride across the city will help you explore numerous attractive historical memoirs and complete your Malaga tour.

Here are some of the major tourist entertainment spots:

  • La Bodega Malaguena: It’s a vibrant bodega bar
  • Sala Wengé: A live music club for social gatherings
  • Weekend Café Bar: A popular cocktail bar in the city
  • Teatro Romano: A music club with HD TV, live music and sports
  • Casanova Lounge Club: A vibrant lounge and cocktail bar

Hotels and Restaurants in Malaga: authentic cuisines, great taste, cost-effective options.

Most tourists visiting the city take great interest in authentic Spanish cuisine. Fortunately, none are disappointed with the restaurants and bars here. There are numerous hotels and restaurants featuring high quality authentic foods from different international cuisine.

The tapas bars are also considered as one of the major food attractions of this historical shore-town. The price of the foods here are comparatively cheaper than other cities of Spain. At the same time, the city presents some cosy, comfortable, yet cheap residency options for tourists. There are some attractive resident-hotels, cottages and flats available across the town.

Here are some of the lucrative residency-options for the international tourists:

  • Restaurants: Café de París, El Chinitas, Adolfo, Escuela de Hostería, Parador de Málaga-Gibralfara etc.
  • Hotels: Parador de Málaga Golf, Hotel La Bobadilla, AC Málaga Palacio, Parador de Málaga-Gibralfaro, Hostal Derby etc.

Malaga is also known as the California of Europe for its comfortable climate, generous people, vibrant culture and numerous activities. Tourists around the world have always been attracted to the city. Truly the seaside Spanish town is one of the most amazing leisure destinations on earth today.

Mark blogs about all areas of the world but his favourite place is his villa in Lanzarote.

Tourist numbers and spending increase

Tourist spending is up, despite the crisis
Tourist spending is up, despite the crisis

According to new figures released by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, over 6 million visitors arrived in Spain in June 2012, an increase of 2.2% over the same period last year.

The total expenditure by tourists also increased to a total of 5.833 million euros, up 8.7% from June 2011.

For the first half of the year, from January to June 2012, the total number of tourists visiting Spain increased to 25,150,430, a 4.7% increase over the same period in 2011.

In the first half of the year, non-residents accumulated a total expenditure of 23.644 million euros, a growth of 5.6%. The average expenditure also showed an increase of 2.5% per tourist, and an increase of 9.4% to the daily average spend.

UK tourist spending showed a growth of 17.9%, which amounts to 200 million euros expenditure. This increase, far higher than the national increase (8.7%), was also due to increased average spending per visitor (9.2%). The Balearic Islands were the destination of choice for UK tourists.

The number of German tourists recorded a second consecutive month of growth with a 5% increase. The Canary Islands captured the bulk of the German influx with an increase of over 60%. The average daily spending fell for the second straight month by -2.6%.

In Andalucía, tourist spending volume increased by 1% despite a decline in the number of tourists of -4.6%. This was due to an increase of 5.5% in the average spending per person. This represents the first increase in this area following five months of falls.

The total expenditure of tourists who opted for non-hotel accommodation increased by 12.2%, a greater increase than for hotel accommodation which increased by 7%.

Package-holiday tourists showed strong growth with an increase of 14.3%. The number of non-package travellers held constant but their total spending showed an increase of 5.9%, due to the increase in average spending per person of 6.6%. The majority of the increase in spending can be attributed to trips made for leisure.

You can read the complete report here (in Spanish): Tourists Expenditure – June 2012

You need a holiday. You need Andalucia.

'You need a holiday. You need Andalucía.'
‘You need a holiday. You need Andalucía.’

IU tourism boss Rafael Rodriguez has launched a summer campaign to promote Andalucia under the motto ‘You need a holiday. You need Andalucía’.

He argues that if all residents in Andalucía stayed here for the summer they would make a substantial contribution to sustaining the regional economy during the crisis.

“I invite all residents of the region to discover Andalucía,” he said.

“It’s important to get to know the world, but that world starts with what we have to hand’.

It comes as Spain is also set to reduce the entry conditions for non-European tourists.

It will make it much easier for Latin Americans to have holidays in Spain.

Previously any non-European tourist who wanted to enter Spain for an unlimited time had to show a visa, a return ticket, a hotel reservation and enough money to cover the stay.

Meanwhile if they were staying in a friend’s house, they had to supply all the details of that person and the house, including proof of purchase or rental agreement.

But following complaints from Brazil and Mexico tourists only have to say who they are visiting and give the address.

Visit www.allaboutandalucia.com for plenty of good local suggestions

Source: The Olive Press

Pensions in Andalucía fourth lowest in Spain

Southern Spain may be a great place to live for most people but not so for old age pensioners as residents in Andalucía receive lower pension payments than in all but three of Spain’s regions.

The average pension in Andalucía was €757.31 in June which is €72.26 below the national average of €829.57.

The regions that beat Andalucía to the bottom of the list are Murcia, Extremadura and Galicia where the average pension is €730.50, €704.31 and €696.14 respectively.

Only seven regions have higher than average pensions. They were The Basque Country with an average of €1,024.74, Asturias where pensions average €984.78, and Madrid with €981.51.

The total paid for pensions in June across Spain was 7.38 billion euros, representing an increase of 4.3% compared to the same period in 2011, according to data from the Social Security and Employment ministry.

Speed Networking and Summer Cocktail Andalucia

British Chamber of Commerce
British Chamber of Commerce in Spain

Following the immense success of our previous speed networking event and the feedback we received saying that many had organized meetings and even obtained new clients as a result, the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain is delighted to invite you and your colleagues to our next Speed Networking and Summer Cocktail event to be held on the 21st June in the award winning Marbella Golf and Country Club. (Calle de Cádiz, 29 29604 Marbella, Spain).

The BCCS anticipate yet another successful networking event for all participants and have decided to couple this with a Summer cocktail with an array of exquisite canapés, Champagne, Pimms and live music to accompany you as you connect and relax with those whose services have interested you whilst embracing the impressive views on what is forecasted to be a warm, summer’s evening.

For those who are not familiar with speed networking, this is the ultimate and guaranteed way of making new business contacts. Please have a 1-2 minute presentation prepared, as well as any business cards, leaflets or information you would like to hand out. Also, please bring a friend, colleague or someone outside of the chamber so that we can have as many different businesses as possible!

The format of the evening will run as follows:

  • 18:00-18:20 – guests arrive
  • 18:30 – guests take their seats for a prompt start
  • 18:30-20:00 – Speed Networking
  • 20:00-22:00 – guests will move onto the terrace for canapés, champagne and Pimms accompanied by live music

Price per person

Members: 15€
Non-members: 21€
Please make sure you take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to combine two events for the price of one. Please RSVP to Sarah at andalucia@britchamber.com or call 952 667 511 for more information.

Andalucians are…

losandalucesson.com
Positive image – losandalucesson.com

Go to Google and type “los andaluces son” and see what Google suggests you may be asking.

You have typed “Andalucians are” and it seems Google’s opinion is that Andalucians are lazy, stupid, illiterate and false. Although it isn’t really Google that thinks that. The search is based on previous popular searches. If one million people search for “los andaluces son vagos” (andalucians are lazy) then that will be remembered by Google and will be presented as an option.

These stereotypes are often applied to the region and it’s people – possibly due to the laid back lifestyle and year-round beach weather.

However, three proud Andalucians have taken steps to reverse the opinion of Andalucías people.

The men, all with marketing backgrounds, have created a website intended to “infiltrate” Google’s memory and replace negative adjectives with positive ones.

Habacuc Rodriguez, 31, Fernando Munoz, 35, and Antonio Cabello, 35, decided to launch www.losandalucesson.com to help change the results, and opinions of Andalucía and it’s residents.

Speaking to the Olive Press Rodriguez said “Our challenge is to clean up the online reputation of Andalucians,”

The website works by asking visitors to click a button which will ask Google to search for “Andalucians are” plus a positive adjective from a list including ‘hardworking’, ‘incredible’, ‘creative’, ‘sporty’, ‘strong’, ‘special’, ‘original’ and ‘the best’.

These searches will all be saved as part of Google Trends, meaning subsequent searches will suggest more positive options.

The results have been most impressive and have already changed some of Google’s suggestions.

Within the first week 30,000 people had “clicked”, and within the first month that figure had risen to 150,000 with contributors from as far away as Ghana and Australia clicking in defence of Andalucía’s reputation.

“We have managed to change Google.es 100 per cent, but Google.com is not quite there yet,” said Rodriguez.

The men admit that their efforts are only a small drop in the internet ocean and combating or changing opinion is a long process.

“For this we would need another type of campaign which targets all those movers and shakers who spout out completely unfounded negative comments and generalisations about Andalucians,” Rodriguez said.

Go to the site and give it a go. Andalucía and it’s people need you! Los Andaluces Son

Security deposit demanded from former employment minister

Former employment minister Antonio Ferández
Former minister Antonio Ferández

The former Junta de Andalucía employment minister Antonio Fernández has been ordered to pay a security deposit of 807 million euros against any potential civil liabilities that may result in the event of him being found guilty.

The former minister is part of the scandal which allegedly involves millions of euros of fraud in the town halls concession of financial aid for laid-off employees.

The money paid will only be security against potential liabilities and will not serve as bail – Fernández will remain in prison where he has been remanded since April. Judge Mercedes Alaya believes he played a “principal roll” in the case and has indicted Fernández on charges of bribery, misuse of public funds and document fraud.

Sr Fernández is the first minister-level Junta official to be indicted in the case.

The payment is one of the largest ever requested and even dwarfs a previous deposit of 686 million euros which was demanded from the former director general of employment and social security, Francisco Javier Guerro, who was jailed on similar charges in March. In that case, the judge has also embargoed Sr Guerrero’s assets, including bank accounts.

High earners in Andalucía to see tax increase

Tax chief Carmen Martínez Aguayo and spokesman Miguel Ángel Vázquez
Tax chief Carmen Martínez Aguayo and spokesman Miguel Ángel Vázquez

This week the Junta de Andalucía has announced it’s plans to enable the region to meet it’s deficit target of 1.5% of the regions GDP and it seems high earners are to be hit with a tax increase.

The plans, which amount to a total of around 2.5 billion euros  will mean an average 5% pay cut for public employees, including the regional president and ministers. The hope is that this measure alone will save 780 million euros in personnel costs.

Other measures include a hold on all non-emergency public works which will save an estimated 570 million euros from the 2012 budget, which has been reduced to 29.5 billion euros.

For those people earning between 60,000 and 120,000 euros a tax increase will be implemented rising to 23.5%. Those earning in excess of 120,000 will see their tax rise to 25.5%. Currently those earning between 60,000 and 80,000 are taxed at a rate of 21.5%, while those earning between 80,000 and 120,000 pay 22.5% tax. The rate for earning over 120,000 is currently 24.5%.

I think this is the first measure taken that actually makes sense. To recognise that the higher earners can afford to pay a little more without damaging their bottom line is great. Low income families are the ones that are really struggling and to leave them out of the tax increases is commendable. It’s common sense really so it’s a shame it’s taken so long for government to realise.

Well done Junta de Andalucía – if you can only get the rest of Europe to follow this I’m sure things would get better quicker.

Elections, strikes and budgets – a busy week for Rajoy

In the days after Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular (PP) won the regional election in Andalucía, people may be asking “what happens now?”

The first thing that happened was that Spanish stocks fell across Europe.  On Monday the Spanish IBEX index was down 1.7 percent as economists looked ahead to Rajoy’s mandate to deepen cutbacks  in public spending as part of his efforts to  drag Spain out of the euro zone debt. Rajoy is expected to announce a further 40 billion euros to be cut from expenditure, in addition to the 15 billion already saved.

Andalucia, one of the most indebted regions in Spain relative to its output, and has the highest jobless rate, at over 31 percent of all of Spain’s regions. Part of the planned reforms will hand more power to the regions to cut health care and education spending, something which local councillors have long been asking for.

Rajoy may not have won a majority in Andalucía but he still has an absolute majority in the national parliament and will press ahead with further cuts despite a general strike, planned for this Thursday.

“A day after the polls, the PP is still the dominant power in Spain … but electorally it is starting to suffer the effects of the (economic) situation it has to deal with,” El Pais reported.

However, with the combined total seats of the Socialists, with 47, and the United Left with 12, the possibility of a leftist ruling coalition is an option for the opposition parties, but analysts think the negotiations will not be easy.

“Today we’ve seen that the majority of voters in Andalucia have not voted for the right. They want change that defends the social model and equality of opportunity,” United Left leader Cayo Lara said in a television interview.

“The people of Andalucia want change, but they want change through the left,” she added.

With a strike due on Thursday and a budget due on Friday, it seems the PP has work to do to impress itself upon Andalucía, and the rest of Spain. The people will speak on Thursday when the number of protesters will act as a good indicator of public confidence in Rajoy’s plans.

Andalucian Regional Elections: the background

On Sunday elections for the Junta de Andalucia (Andalucian Parliament) took place. A president was chosen, who will now form a government responsible for an annual budget of €33 billion and an ever increasing range of public services.

This campaign has been relatively low-key, as it is the third time Andalucians have been called to the polls in the last 10 months, following local elections on 25 May last year and national elections on 20 November.
Although I probably understand Andalucia and its politics better than many, having lived here for 22 years, and run a business for 16 years, like other EU nationals I will not eligible to vote in these elections. In the UK, by contrast, EU-national residents can vote in devolved parliamentary elections such as Wales and Scotland.

election-posters

The PSOE (Socialist) party has governed Andalucia since its first elections as an autonomous community in 1982. If the opinion polls and are to be believed, the PP (conservative Partido Popular) will win either an absolute majority of seats, or a narrow majority with the need to form a pact with another party.

The statistics

The Andalucian parliament has 109 seats, of which 55 are needed for the crucial absolute majority. The current composition is PSOE 56 seats, PP 47 seats and IU (Izquierda Unida, United Left) 6 seats.

There have been eight four-yearly elections since 1982 – the PSOE has won an absolute majority five times and governed in the others through a pact with the PA ‘Partido Andalusista’ (Andalucia Nationalists) in 1994,1996 and 2000, when the PA was rewarded with responsibility for Tourism.

The PA transformed itself into the CA (Coalicion Andalucista) before the 2008 election and, as an unfamiliar name, lost all its seats. The other party that might gain a few seats on Sunday is the UPyD (Union Progreso y Democracia).
In the municipal (local) elections of May 2011, the PP won 39% and PSOE 32% of the vote. In the national elections in November 2011, the PP increased their share to 46%, while the PSOE had 37%.

Examining the municipal election results, the PP controls all eight provincial capitals’ ayuntamientos (town halls), yet only 246 of the 730 town halls around the region. This demonstrates how rural Andalucia is the socialist heartland of Spain, with its agricultural and tourist-service economy. There are only 12 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, and one-third of the population live in villages of under 20,000.

The Junta de Andalucia: how the region has changed

So much has been achieved in the last 30 years of the Junta de Andalucia. Thirty years ago, the annual GDP of Andalucia was €11 billion; today it is about €150 billion. That is thanks to consistent annual growth rates of five to ten per cent, although since 2008 it has been practically zero, or negative. Illiteracy has been reduced from 1.3 million to almost zero. People are generally much better educated. Women’s rights and their place in society have been improved immeasurably. Healthcare meets any EU standard, as do freely subsidized prescriptions. The motorway network is almost complete and traffic density relatively low. Five international airports now transport 20 million passengers a year. Modern high-speed AVE trains connect the region to the capital, their network is being further expanded, with more lines under construction. Whatever metric you use, there has been a huge improvement in every aspect of life in Andalucia.

Strangely, however, amidst all this success, the per-capita GDP of Andalucia is still 25 points below the Spanish average. The region occupies the penultimate position of the country’s 17 regions, only ahead of Extremadura. Something has gone wrong, the structural take off has not happened and Andalucia is not the California of Europe as was promised in the eighties.

The PSOE will probably lose the election on Sunday, and the myth that “Andalucia will always be socialist” may be broken. This may be partly due to the departure of the ever-popular Manuel Chaves, former Junta president and PSOE Andalucia leader since 1990. Chaves stepped down suddenly on 7 April 2009 when he was offered a ministerial post in the Zapatero government’s Consejería de Presidencia. He apologized to the Andalucia people not only for leaving, but for doing it during Semana Santa. Jose Antonio Griñan was invested as president, but he has never enjoyed quite the same warmth nor control of the party in Andalucia, which he formally took over a year later.

Corruption and a bulging public sector

Thirty years is a very long time for any party to be in power in a democracy, and such a seemingly inviolable position causes complacency in any government, not to mention a far-too-strong party network within the Civil Service. This inevitably leads to corruption, an over-reliance on spending EU funds without necessary restructuring, an ever-increasing head count in the administration (funcionarios, public sector employees), and not paying enough attention to unemployment.

Corruption was always said to be rife in Andalucia at all levels, and many liberally accused the Junta of their share. Having said that, all the significant cases which queued up in the courts related to town hall mayors and other senior figures. The Junta were either above corruption or too clever, depending on which side you were on. That all changed in February 2011 when Francisco Javier Guerrero, ex-director of employment, testified to police about a secret €700-million fund which was being used to help companies in trouble offer their employees early retirement via a procedure called the ERE (Expediente Regulacion de Empleo). This turned out only the tip of the iceberg, as long lists of party members were given early retirement, including some had never worked for the companies in the first place. Francisco appeared in court last week and was remanded in prison on €700m bail. Unlucky timing for an election.

Another recent example of corruption in Andalucia was the Invercaria scandal. This was the Junta’s flagship venture capital company, helping start-ups in the region. An audit commission report http://www.ccuentas.es/camara-cuentas-informes.html on its 2009 accounts found that there was €21m unaccounted for; directors´ salaries were a staggering €110,000 (later reduced to €80,000); and some “employees” didn’t even work at Invercaria. The director was taped asking the then-promotions director to falsify and backdate investment reports (he refused, so she dismissed him; she resigned when the recording was played in court – you can read transcripts here). The figure quoted for missing Invercaria funds has now grown to €200m.

A recent poll on 15 March in El Mundo says that 53% of voters will be influenced by the numerous corruption scandals, including the ERE.

Paro (unemployment) is currently over 30% in Andalucia, and 35% in Cadiz province. How can this not lead to civil disturbance and crime? Perhaps only thanks to the family structure, the mattress, and unemployment benefits which are generous by the standards of any EU or developed nation. Of course, a large part of these statistics are influenced by the openly black economy. Even during the property boom of the last decade in 2007, the lowest unemployment rate in Andalucia was 12.3%.

EU funding and subsidies

EU structural funds have poured into Andalucia; since 1986, when Spain joined Europe, Andalucia has received about €72.5 billion. This is running at about €3 billion a year – in other words, ten per cent of the €33 billion annual budget of the Junta de Andalucia is allocating EU money.

The administration are masters at managing EU funds, which have been largely allocated as part capital investment in infrastructure. Much of it is useful for important projects, such as for motorways, but is also used to build white elephants and countless projects such as information centres that cannot be staffed or maintained. Or virtual worlds such as envivo.andalucia.org (link does not work anymore, here is how it looked and here is the spin) with a budget of several millions of euro that are quietly dropped when found to be lacking. If the PP do win the election, expect an audit (or witch hunt) which will uncover many more such examples. As a taxayer, I am uncomfortable with cost of severing, US style political apointments in the Andalucian adminsitration when combined with Spanish labour law.

Since 1986 Andalucia has received olive oil subsidies amounting to €15 billion, and olive oil production has reached record highs, with the help of drip irrigations and more mechanised cultivation. There are 600 co-operatives in Andalucia and 80% of production is exported to Italy and other countries as unlabelled oil, leaving the bottling and branding to others. Europe pays a per-kilo subsidy, a situation with which Andalucia is comfortable – it hasn´t used these funds to build brands to compete with the Tuscans’.

The wealth transfer has served to create a very large regional public administration. Seventeen people out of every 100 employed work in public sector administration. This is the highest level of public sector employment in Spain, with Madrid next at 15, down to Extramadura at six. Outsourcing would have been a more cost-effective strategy, especially in a downturn when budgets need to be cut.

The learning curve for EU grants is steep, with excessive and complicated paperwork for applicants. There does seem to me to be a landscape of haves and have nots. I remember first noticing this in my role of “journalist” at Airtec (the aerospace supply industry trade fair) in Frankfurt in 2008, when I interviewed exhibitors on the Andalucia stand and asked if the regional government had helped them. The answers were distinctly polarized; a strange by-product of this EU grant divide is the unhealthy jealousy felt by the have-nots – even the flamenco singers are tired of it. They recently complained and forced a meeting with Paulino Plata, the Culture Minister, over so much going to so few.

At least the sun continues to shine in Andalucia, and the foreign tourist arrivals are increasing again – but this in itself will not be enough to take the region forward. Exports are presently so low that whoever wins the election will need to give a sharp kick-start to the “Plan de la Internacionalización de la Economía Andaluza” and the “Plan de Fomento del Plurilingüismo”, so that when the next generation of school children are asked what career they aspire to, the majority won’t answer “functionario” (public service worker).

by Chris Chaplow

You can find the original article here: Andalucia Regional Elections: The Background