Local Daily News 6th May

A deflated Imserso: only 60% of the expected tourists

The delay in the start-up of the Imserso program, the bad weather that has left 40% of the spaces unsold and the rise in costs due to the lack of control over prices – there are hotels that have to pay 7,000 euros per month, double that of last year – have left tourism for the retired on the Costa Blanca practically without effect this year. Hoteliers insist that the program as it stands today is not viable. At the moment, moreover, it is unknown when the 22/23 program will start, which, in principle, will be an extension of the current one without any changes to prices, already low, which are weighing down hotels with the 20% rise in costs.

The gap between the 24 euros that hotels have received this year for each client and reality is evident, since uncontrolled inflation means that each space costs 34 euros (for full board). This year, with the reduction to 5 months of the season, and as not all places were filled, the economic volume has gone from 60 million euros to about 45 million, since there are hotels that did not even open. The Costa Blanca had 200,000 spaces assigned out of the 800,000 in all of Spain. The employers warn that either the Government reacts or many hotels are going to choose, as has happened this year, to close in winter, according to Nuria Montes, general secretary of Hosbec.

The Government established through its contract for this year that the remuneration to Spanish hoteliers would be 24 euros, but according to an economic report from the Alicante hotel employer Hosbec, producing an overnight stay at Imserso already cost 27 euros only for production operating cost in December 2020, and it rose to 33 euros taking into account the structure costs, such as IBI, mortgages, rents, loans. The Partido Popular has presented a battery of parliamentary questions in Congress asking for explanations from the ministers Reyes Maroto (Tourism) and Ione Belarra, responsible for the program.

Hosbec has asked, in this sense, the Government to take advantage of the structural measures on which it is working to face the rise in costs and include in them the improvement of Imserso. An outdated program in prices and that forces hotels to work at a loss, as the employer has been denouncing for five years. “They don’t answer us, an extension of the current program would be disastrous. We have sent letters warning of the situation but they don’t pay any attention. The program is unsustainable,” emphasises Nuria Montes.

The program was already at a clear risk of becoming obsolete and out of market conditions by not having adjusted to the minimum costs of hotel companies to produce a stay of these characteristics, but at this time an urgent reformulation is urgently needed due to the escalation of prices of energy, food and labour costs, which are the three main components of the hotel service provision.

According to economic reports and calculations made by the employers, in 2020 this program accumulated a gap of 25% on the production price. In December 2020, it was estimated that producing an Imserso overnight stay cost between 27 and 33 euros on average. 27 euros is only the operating cost of production, which rises to 34 euros if the structure costs are taken into account (IBI, mortgages, rents, loans, etc…), according to the calculation of the hotel management.

One hundred million euros in losses, 5,000 workers in ERTE, 250,000 lost tourists, 65 hotels closed, of which this year only about 30 have worked with social tourism and a lethal blow to the image of the Costa Blanca tourism sector throughout Europe was the effect of the cancellation of the program hit by the pandemic. In the Valencian Community, the program operated with 65 hotels in Benidorm, Calp, Dénia, L’Alfàs del Pi, Gandía, Guardamar, Xàbia, Peñíscola, Alicante, Torrevieja and Vinaroz, but this year there have only been about 20 hotels open. It is also true that the drop in sales also occurred because the best months, from October to December, were lost.

Exceltur reiterates that the Imserso travel program has to recompose its price and distribution scheme so that it does not entail losses for hotel operators due to having to work with prices below cost.

The Government admits that its own bureaucracy prolongs the stay of refugees in Ciudad de la Luz for up to a month

The Ministry of Migration attributes the long stays of Ukrainian refugees in Ciudad de la Luz to reports of vulnerability made by families. In a statement, the Ministry of Migration maintains that the forecast is that the refugees spend between 24 and 72 hours in the centre and admits that there may be delays over that time.

If there had been any delay in the referral, it would have been due to the need to carry out a more exhaustive study, as is the case with especially vulnerable profiles.” These vulnerability studies are carried out by the staff of the ministry itself.

According to sources from the Government Subdelegation, there are 15 people dedicated to this work who have the support of social workers hired by the Red Cross. A total of one hundred people work in the entire refugee centre of Ciudad de la Luz.

When the war broke out in Ukraine, the old film studios were set up to receive refugees from the invaded country and at the end of March the first families began to arrive. Despite the fact that from the beginning it was said that the stays in this centre would be short, between 24 and 48 hours, the truth is that many of the families have been there for a month without yet knowing what their final destination will be.

NGOs consulted point out that another of the factors that influence these stays to be prolonged for so many weeks is the lack of reception places once the families leave Ciudad de la Luz, since there are hardly any rental apartments to be able to shelter the refugees for a prolonged period of time.

The families of Ukrainians who spend several weeks in Ciudad de la Luz begin to feel confined and isolated as the facilities are several kilometres from Alicante. From the ministry they answer that shortly after the opening of the centre, a free transport service was enabled, which includes different schedules and stops between which are the health centre and the hospital, “allowing families to move every day of the week from the centre to Alicante and return on the same day to carry out, among others, administrative procedures, scheduled medical consultations or simply travel to Alicante”.

The Friends of Ukraine association has criticised that the reception program is not well explained to the refugees, nor has the information been given in writing. They have also requested that the information be translated into Ukrainian and Russian. At this point, the Ministry of Migration maintains that applicants for temporary protection “are informed in Spanish and Ukrainian, upon arrival at the centre and also have the possibility of contacting the Red Cross at any time for issues of various kinds, such as clothing, hygiene products, etc.”

The Friends of Ukraine association also asks that there be fewer obstacles when it comes to obtaining the NIE and making legal inquiries and that this entity be given permission to access the Ciudad de la Luz facilities. Regarding this last point, sources from the Government Subdelegation point out the advisability of restricting access to Ciudad de la Luz to preserve privacy and for the safety of the refugees residing there.

Another of the complaints referred to the food and to the fact that there are sick people who need special diets. These days the catering service has been changed by a company that works with schools in Alicante and from the Association of Friends of Ukraine they point out that the deficiencies in this regard have been resolved for the time being.

Currently, 220 families remain in Ciudad de la Luz. From the Government Subdelegation they explain that in recent weeks the pressure has dropped and that there are around a hundred fewer people housed in the old film studios.

Part of the historic Sant Argil de La Vila bridge collapses due to the rain

The rains of the last two months are wreaking havoc in some areas of La Vila Joiosa. The storms destroyed beaches such as Paradís but, in addition, they have affected the Historical Heritage of the municipality such as the Sant Argil bridge (Pont de Sant d’En Gil), a monument that has suffered damage to its structure due to intense rainfall and which will be operated on urgently.

The City Council of Vila Joiosa, through its Departments of Historical Heritage and Urban Planning, has prepared a technical report on the current structural state of this bridge after suffering significant damage to its structure. The Pont de Sant Argil, cultural and historical vilero heritage, has suffered an internal collapse in the structure of one of the arch-bridges, leading to a “real risk of major collapses or the collapse of the western arch due to these damages,” according to the council.

The problem caused by the heavy rains of recent days is centred in the area of ​​one of the secondary arches, the one located farthest to the west. The cracks produced for some time in the pavement have been allowing the flow of water towards the filling of the bridge, producing a reservoir inside that “becomes evident on the outside in the form of a large damp spot and a low drip of the affected arc that continues for hours after the rains subside”.

For this reason, on April 20th, after detecting this flaw in the structure of this Asset of Local Relevance, the Vila Joiosa Local Police closed the circulation of vehicles and pedestrians on the bridge for obvious security reasons. Now, municipal technicians from the Historical Heritage and Urban Planning service are working together to restore and enhance this monument that stands on the Amadorio River, which will be carried out urgently to shorten the period of action on the bridge as much as possible.

“We are working practically against the clock to preserve the structure of this bridge for safety, mobility and mainly because of its historical importance for Vila Joiosa”, says the mayor of Vila Joiosa, Andreu Verdú.

The historical importance of the Pont de Sant Argil, as the only road traffic route on both sides of the river in the middle of the vilera orchard, is unquestionable due to its intense public use. In addition, this property is of great heritage and symbolic value for the history of Vila Joiosa because, although its structure has been repaired several times over the centuries (the current one is, according to a provisional assessment, from the 18th century with 19th century repair), historical documentation shows that the bridge already existed in the 19th century, that is to say, at the “beginning of the history of the vila nova de Vilajoiosa”, and therefore it is the oldest monument of this population that is still standing.

The Consistory of Vila has already contacted a specialised company to begin cleaning the interior of the affected arch and replacing the bridge passage as soon as possible.

Two arrested for the shooting and murder of an 80-year-old woman in a chalet in Elche

The Elche National Police has resolved in less than 24 hours the shooting and murder of the 80-year-old woman of British nationality who was found this Wednesday afternoon in a chalet in the Maitino district of Elche, where she lived alone since her husband died many years ago. Investigators have arrested a man and a woman in Elche and Alicante as alleged perpetrators of the homicide. Both were seen in the area by a plumber the victim had called for a repair. This witness would have seen the suspects leave Marina W.’s home and then sounded the alarm at 112 after discovering a trail of blood. For now, the motive for the crime has not been revealed and robbery is not ruled out, although the interior of the house was not scrambled. Investigators have recovered the weapon used in the crime, a 22mm calibre pistol.

Agents of the National Police of Elche, attached to the Judicial Police Brigade, have been investigating this crime since Wednesday afternoon, which occurred in a villa in the Torre Azul urbanisation, in the Maitino district of Elche, where there are more than a hundred homes scattered in villas and streets. During recent months, police sources had reinforced security controls in this area, as in other nearby areas, such as Torrellano or Valverde, to respond to neighbourhood complaints about some thefts.

The woman’s body was discovered by a plumber minutes before six in the evening, who notified the 112 service after accessing the house. Apparently, about two hours earlier, the victim, who had lived for more than 20 years in the chalet where she was shot three times, had contacted him for an emergency repair for which she had asked him for a quote. Throughout Wednesday the water fell abundantly in the municipality of Elche. In the surroundings of the airport, near where the chalet was, more than 50 litres per square metre were collected. Apparently the rush had to do with an unexpected breakdown. The plumber knew the woman and therefore accessed the property, although the details of how he was able to enter and find her body are not known. Some sources assure that the professional requested the neighbourhood collaboration when seeing that the door did not open.

When the agents of the rural patrol arrived at the house, commissioned through that call received at the 112 service of the Generalitat Valenciana, they found inside the body of the 80-year-old woman, who had several bullet wounds (apparently three and carried out with a weapon at close range).

The murdered woman lived alone in the chalet after being widowed several years ago. At this time, her identification has not been provided while trying to locate her relatives. All indications suggest that she had been deceased for a very short time, so a surveillance service was set up to try to detect something suspicious.

The Elche Police Station, which maintains a scrupulous silence on the case, immediately activated the protocol for violent crimes and agents from the Judicial Police and Scientific Police attended the scene. In addition, the Elche guard court was notified of the violent death and the judicial commission went to the victim’s home to examine the body before authorising its transfer to the Alicante Institute of Legal Medicine, where an autopsy will be performed.

The National Police have taken statements from numerous neighbours to find out if anyone saw anything, but since it was a rainy day, no one saw anything. It was only the plumber with whom the woman had spoken. The couple left the chalet with a mask and hats and they seemed strange to him. He saw that they were leaving in a car and his collaboration with the National Police has been essential for the rapid resolution of the crime.

Marina had a British passport but the residents of the party who knew her assure that she was of German origin. She came to Elche more than 20 years ago after her husband retired, who was British and had a recycling company in his country until his retirement. “She was a woman of great character, a perfectionist and I see her capable of resisting a robbery and hitting the author with a shovel,” says a neighbour from the area who knew her.

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