Sunday, July 21, 2024

Spain ‘crisis’ as 300k tourists abandon hotels – but risk £4,200 fine

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The phenomenon of motorhomes and campervans has become a real craze in Spain, with the steep rises in hotel prices and a growing passion for travel making this the favoured option for thousands of tourists who are turning away from hotels and restaurant.

But Brits should be warned they risk fines of up to £4,200 if they choose to steer away from more traditional ways of holidaying in Spain.

The most recent cenus in 2022 revealed that there are about 236,000 caravans, 80,000 motorhomes, and about 18,000 campervans in Spain, with many of them being converted into holiday lets.

This has led to a crisis in some parts of the country. Residents and the Municipal Police of the Galician town of Cangas do Morrazo have complained about the uncivilised behaviour of some people who park and live on the beach, including tourists. This summer, such complaints are multiplying, with neighbours calling for solutions. 

With a total population of 26,487 inhabitants, in the summer this number triples. The neighbours have complained and are fed up with not being able to park where they want. Complaints include the rubbish they leave behind and how they invade all the space, not only to park, but also to set up their tables, chairs and awnings. They say they feel cornered in their own towns and have called on local police for more action.

“Not only are they occupying the entire beach area, but they have also reached the city centre,” says Alberto Agulla, head of the local police in Cangas do Morrazo.

Spanish legislation establishes a legal framework that allows these vehicles to park like any other type of motor vehicle, including respecting general parking regulations. However, it leaves overnight stay regulations in the hands of local councils through municipal ordinances.

Most Spanish councils allow these vehicles to park and stay overnight as long as they do not deploy awnings, kitchens, tables or any other element that makes them resemble camping vehicles. They also cannot level motorhomes with wheel chocks or similar devices.

This means they can park in the same spaces as conventional vehicles but not on beaches or at the foot of mountains. In this case, fines range from simple parking infractions to ecological crimes if they cook and spill oil or dirty water. Fines can range from £168 to £4,213, depending on what the officers deem appropriate.

Many municipalities have created overnight areas that may be monitored where it is possible to spend the night in these vehicles without any risk. These areas are usually monitored and allow for disposing of dirty water and refilling tanks or throwing away rubbish.

In the face of legislation that some consider to be adequate and others somewhat lax in its enforcement, they have begun to proliferate until they have taken over every corner of the coast of the peninsula of Cangas do Morrazo. Other municipalities, such as Santa Pola in the Valencian Community, have also been looking for solutions to the problem for years.

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