If El Toyo is “failing” – what future “Llano Central”?
There’s a report in La Voz de Almería today about how El Toyo, the large luxury tourism complex behind Almería Airport, first built for the Mediterranean Games in 2005 and now mooted as the template for the ambitious “Llano Central”, is failing, if not already failed.
Readers will remember how central administration and Almería townhall have allowed El Toyo to fall into disrepair, with the hotel groups complaining that they felt abandoned, and Thomas Cook threatening to pull out of the area is standards were not kept up.
Since then, things have not improved – construction has come to a halt, as nobody is buying anything; there are almost no permanent residents, very little infrastructure, the whole place is falling apart, and of the five big hotels, residency is so low most have closed for the season. One promotor has called the place “dead”, and the builders have requested an extension to the building plans, complaining that if they build any more phases they’ll never sell.
On top of this, a recent study quoted in La Voz discovered that out of all the hotels in Almería, almost half were up for sale, (often the franchise as opposed to the actual building) as hotel groups felt that the tourism season in Almería was far too seasonal, and that despite the fact that occupancy in the summer is almost 100%, the other 9 months the hotels are empty, or, indeed, closed.
Which brings me back to my previous contention that the Llano Central is a colossal waste of time, money, energy and rights. Nobody is going to build there, and the area cannot support more infrastructure on this scale. Small landholders are going to loose their land in Valencian style land grabs to big promotors. Water will, again, become an issue – it’s not just bring the fresh stuff in, it’s piping the dirty stuff away and treating it. Electrical energy to the area is insufficient at the moment, which means yet more pylons and another expansion to Carboneras energy plant. Local townhalls have no experience in managing such big projects, and the only way you’ll be able to coordinate the whole Llano Central is as one administration; take land away from Vera, Garrucha, Mojacar, Turre, Los Gallardos & Antas and create a new town hall. Which will never happen.
And if you honestly expect private businesses to put up over half the cost of the Llano Central (I forget how many hundred of thousand of millions of euros we’re talking about, the zeros all run together) in the current financial climate you’re living in cloud cuckoo land. Hotel groups are loosing money on the hotels they have – why expect them to pump yet more money into new ones? Most of the big promotors who were interested in building there last year have gone bust!
Forget Llano Central. Instead, concentrate on fixing what we already have. Stop these stupid implementations of the “anti botellon” laws. Allow out of town discos to open as long as they like, as long as they properly control the customers. Improve local transportation between villages along the coast – keep the buses going all year round, so people can go for a drink without having to drive. Tax cuts to get local bars and restaurants going in the winter, try to reestablish the bar culture in Mojacar. Get a couple of hotels to agree to go strong all winter long. Think of events to encourage people to come along in the winter. Drop the ridiculous “live music” tax. Encourage seniors to come out here and spend long term breaks during the winter.
This area can only survive on tourism – but before we start building yet more, destroying what little we have, fix what we have and get it going. The town halls don’t seem able or willing to do it, they only seem interested in building up their own little empires – so it’s up to us local businessmen and women. We can’t survive on just 3 months boom and 9 months bust. We know what we want, and if the town hall doesn’t, then if we can’t convince them otherwise we’re all stuffed.
See an overview of the POTALA (regional plan which includes the Llano Central).