Thursday, 8 September 2016

SPAIN: Fires On Spanish Coast

Stunning beaches, over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and a rich history, it is no wonder that Alicante and Benidorm are such popular holiday destinations, with over 12 million British nationals visiting yearly.

Recent events may cause many holiday-makers to reconsider their plans as fires have raged through the Javea area, forcing tourists and residents to evacuate as fire services attempt to stop the blaze.

September is one of the busiest months of the year for tourism in Spain and being such a popular destination for British tourists, many may be wondering if it is safe to travel to the area.

Officers in Spain have said that the sources of the fire indicate that it may be the result of arsonists, and some may fear that the fire was started as an act of anti-tourism.

“Assuming that the fire was started deliberately and it could have been started by anyone, there is no reason to suspect that it will be started again,” says Dr Yeganeh Morakabati, principal lecturer in Tourism for the Bournemouth University.

“The destructive act was not aimed at people, it was aimed at the property and natural environment, which of course affects people indirectly.”

Dr Morakabati adds: “It can put people off from going to this region of Spain, especially because fire leaves an unpleasant smell and aesthetically degrades the area with charred grass, trees and soot.”

The rest of the country may not suffer a drop in tourism however, Dr Morakabati suggests: “Spain as a whole would only see some shift in tourist demand and therefore a redistribution of tourism activities to other areas within the region.”

The forest fires have led to evacuations of large areas, so if you are travelling to Benitachell or Javea, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises you to “check with your travel company whether you'll be able to access your accomodation”.

Lecturer from the University of Salford, Manchester, Neil Robinson, says: “I would recommend always taking your own insurance, even in the European Union. Read the small print and check for regulations within the insurance that say in the result of fire or insurrection you may not be covered.”

He also suggested that some insurance companies may not cover you if you go on holiday while incidents, such as riots, are already taking place, so do check their policies.

“The Spanish fire services are well organised, check with the company you booked with, check your accommodation, flights and tourism organisations.”

While on holiday, try to stay up to date on the local news and social media for the area, so you can be aware if any incidents do occur, keep a charged mobile phone with you and keep in touch with friends and family at home.

As with any holiday abroad, the FCO suggest you carry a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you in case of any emergency.

Keep family together and consider a potential plan for should you need to evacuate. Should you need to leave do so quickly and don't go back for possessions as wildfires can rapidly spread.

Robinson says: “In worst-case scenarios, you might need to pack water and some food source so that you have the essentials with you if you can't get to them.”