Ecologistas ‘award’ black flags to 48 Spanish beaches

Almeria's Hotel El Algarrobico, condemned by Supreme Court for demolition but still standing. Photo: RTVE
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► Environmentalists say ‘tourism monoculture’ is unsustainable for Spain
► Overbuilding, massive reliance on cruise ships, low-cost airlines cited

Spanish environmental NGO Ecologistas en Acción has given out its annual negative ratings to Spanish beaches and coastal areas that are suffering significant degradation as a result of urban and rural contamination and unsustainable beach and coastal tourism.

In the group’s 2019 Banderas Negras report, Ecologistas have given a negative rating to a total of 48 beaches nationwide, including several that have repeated from the NGO’s 2018 list. These include Els Peixes beach in Valencia, the San Vicente marina in Cantabria and the El Algarrobico beach in Almería, where a hotel that illegally encroaches onto the beachfront public domain is still standing, despite its having been condemned for demolition by Spain’s Supreme Court.

According to Ecologistas spokesperson Clara Megías, the deterioration which the environmentalist group found upon analysing more than 800 kilometers of Spain’s coastline is due “in large part, although not exclusively, to the activities of the tourist-real estate industry”.

Spain’s problem, Megías said, is that the country has become dependent in coastal areas on “tourist monoculture” that depends on the over-exploitation of the sea and coastal resources that includes not only over-building, but also implies large-scale contamination through the massive use of cruise ships and low-cost airlines that shuttle tourists to their destinations.

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