Friday, 24 March 2017

Catalonia Lays the Groundwork for Another Secession Referendum from Spain

Catalonia Lays the Groundwork for Another Secession Referendum from Spain

Catalan Government are pushing again for independence
The Catalonian regional government are preparing to put together another referendum vote on secession from Spain – even though such a referendum would likely not have any legal standing in Spanish law.

Two years ago Catalonia held a symbolic vote by pro-independence campaigners. Over two million voters turned up keep to gain independence from Spain, but there wasn’t much turnout overall because the referendum would have no real effect on Catalonia’s independence.

The Catalan government recently issued an opinion that showed some 45.3% of Catalans support secession, while 46.8% are against it.

It’s unlikely that there will actually be a legally binding vote. The Rajoy government and Madrid have said on numerous occasions that they are not going to countenance talk of an official referendum, and even placed sanctions and brought charges against some of the senior politicians that were involved in the last vote.

Raul Romeva, former MEP and the foreign policy chief of the Catalan government has said that he would be willing to face such consequences as he continues to push for a referendum vote in September.

Romeva says that the referendum is being prepared because Catalan needs to be ready, whether the referendum is agreed on or not. The Catalan government recently met with the Madrid government, but it’s unknown if secession was a topic of conversation or not. There have been rumours that the Spanish government has put together an offer for moving forward, but there’s been nothing concrete announced so far.

Romeva says that the Catalan government is ready and keen to start negotiating. They have given the Spanish government an offer for agreeing how and when the referendum the can be held. Romeva added that Catalonia is still going to organise and hold a referendum vote, even if Madrid doesn’t agree to it.

There has been strong demand from some Catalans to separate from Spain, with the amount of voices calling for secession growing in recent years. Catalan is wealthier than the rest of Spain, leaving many Catalans believing that it could survive and thrive as an independent nation without the need for its wealth to be funnelled and used to support poorer areas.

However, the calls for referendum seem to be falling following the strong recovery of the Spanish economy. With the Brexit and the idea of Scottish independence still on the table, some Catalans are worried that they could be shunted out of the EU at a time when it looks like membership is non-negotiable for many.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Spain Mortgage Market Records 14% Growth in 2016

Spain Mortgage Market Records 14% Growth in 2016

Buying property in Spain has never been so easy or cheap

While it’s hard to accurately gauge the growth of the Spanish property market in 2016 because there are a lot of different metrics involved in measuring it, mortgages are one area where the growth is obvious.

After all, mortgages are always mortgages. The data from the Spanish central statistics institutes shows that 14% more mortgages were approved in 2016 over 2015. There were a total of around 281,328 mortgages issued last year in Spain, with December welcoming the 29th year-on-year increase across 30 months as 20,747 mortgages were taken out by new homebuyers.

December alone saw a 6.9% increase over December of 2015, and continued the welcome trend of increased confidence in the Spanish property market. It also served as more proof that the boom is supported by foreign and domestic buyers alike.

Referring to the trend as an “upturn” would be a little unfair though. The word “upturn” suggests that it’s just temporary, while the reality is that things have been looking good for 30 months now. That’s hardly a temporary boost.

Something else interesting about the data is that the average loan was around 2.8% higher than it was in 2015, which shows not just an increase in property prices (an increase that ranges depending on who you ask) but also the growing confidence of banks and other lending institutes in the solvency of borrowers. This basically means that more Spaniards are employed in secure, well-paying jobs, leaving them in better positions to buy homes and reassuring banks that the economy is doing well.

In terms of numbers, the average mortgage in December was €112,680, with an average of €109,759 for the entire year.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Study Finds Costa del Sol is Home to Most Accessible Airport in Europe

Study Finds Costa del Sol is Home to Most Accessible Airport in Europe
Malaga Airport is now one of the top airports in Europe

While it could not be the most scientific study ever performed, the millions of tourists expected to hit the Costa del Sol in 2017 are unlikely to care. Travel info and comparison platform GoEuro has ranked the Malaga airport as being the easiest one to access with public transport in Europe.

The Malaga-Costa del Sol terminal got a total score of 99.9 out of 100, putting it ahead of the other 29 busiest airports in the continent as far as accessibility goes; in particular with regards to public transport.

Even though the airport doesn’t have overground and underground railway connections like other major airports in Europe, it is appealing because of its sheer simplicity; there are quick, affordable, and regular buses connecting the terminal to the centre of Malaga for just €2 (or €1.80 for the train), with fleets of coaches ready to ferry holidaymakers over to Marbella, Torremolinos, Fuengirola, and even further.

Since the Malaga-Costa del Sol airport received an upgrade in 2010, it has become one of the unsung heroes in the record-breaking success the Costa del Sol has seen with tourism, efficiently moving thousands of holidaymakers to and from southern Spain with barely any hassle.

Passenger numbers for this year are already up 18.4% compared to the same time period in 2016, suggesting 2017 is going to be another record breaking year.

While many of the arrivals will head straight for the coast, the Malaga-Costa del Sol airport is also top of the charts due to its location near a city centre, as you can be in the heart of Malaga with a short trip o a bus or train. Second and third place in proximity to the city centre went to the Lisbon and Nice-Cote d’Azure  airports respectively.

Elsewhere in the country, the Palma de Majorca airport came in ninth for accessibility, with 10th and 11th place taken by El Prat in Barcelona and Madrid-Barajas airports for their quick, convenient, and affordable public transport.

The study found that Warsaw airport in Poland was where the cheapest public transport airport journey could be found in Europe.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Could Spanish Tourism be Improved by Trump Presidency?

Could Spanish Tourism be Improved by Trump Presidency?

Donald Trump hasn’t been president for long, but he’s already had a drastic impact on how the United States is perceived around the world. The top three tourist destinations in the world are Spain, France, and the USA. It sometimes feels like they take turns being the most popular destination each year. Even though there will always be some argument about tourism and visits, there’s a lot of data already suggesting Spain could become the most visited country of 2017.
Looking like another record breaking year for Spain

There is a tight margin however. There’s a lot of undocumented overland travel in France as drivers constantly skim the northern corner of the country and pass through France on their way to the UK, Germany and Belgium. It’s a little easier to keep track of who comes in and out of Spain thanks to the its place in the southwest of Europe.

Then there is the issue of the United States. The US is no doubt the largest country out of all three, with carefully controlled tourism. The country has very strict border patrol forces that are not about let a few thousand people pass through here and there.

There are some years where the USA is the most visited country in the world. Even if it doesn’t take the top spot, there is only a minor amount of fluctuation. This could all be about to change.

President Donald Trump has spent much of his presidency, fresh as it is, being vocal. His harsh rhetoric and his travel bans have scared some tourists away from the country. Airline analyst Hopper has revealed data that shows there has been a 6.5% drop in airline bookings to the USA since Trump assumed office, while there are 17% less searches for flights to the country.

The drops were seen in most major countries in the world with one peculiar exception; there was actually an 88% increase in enquiries from Russia.

The figures that Hopper have would seem to match those of Spanish travel research company ForwardKeys and British tour operator Responsible Travel, which have recorded 22% decreases in inquiries about US holidays following the appointment of President Trump.

ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager says that the data suggests the Trump travel Ban has caused a significant drop in the amount of people looking to travel to the USA and it’s had an immediate effect on travel in the future, which is bad news for the American economy.

Even though it’s bad news for the US, it could be good news for Spain. While the US welcomes a wide range of tourists, many of the people travelling to the country are looking to hit Florida for plenty of sun, sea, and sand. If they don’t find the USA as appealing as they did before, thenSpain could easily become a great replacement as it offers families the same great weather and beaches they would get from the States, along with much more.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Data from Notary Reveals Spanish Property Prices Increased 5.67% in 2016

Data from Notary Reveals Spanish Property Prices Increased 5.67% in 2016

Spend enough time on the internet and you’ll be able to find some headline, statistic, or opinion that matches any kind of preconceived notion you might have. The Spanish property market is no exception.
Spanish Property continues to sell and increase from previous years
Several media outlets are all too happy to keep painting their picture of grim desperation. One source even tried to claim that Spanish property prices are in the middle of an alarming freefall.

It’s quite easy to debunk these stories, mostly because every respected economist and analyst in the country has examples of reliable data showing that property prices continue to increase across the country following 2014, when they hit rock bottom.

The actual figures might differ between establishments such as the Deutsche Bank to the National Statistics Institute, the trend is clear and unchanging; prices are on the rise, and have been so for three years now.

The latest figures published this week by the Spanish Notaries Association further confirms the trend, as it shows the average price per square metre in Spain increased 5.67% during 2016 compared to 2015.

The notary data shows that foreign interest was as strong as ever in Spain during 2016, as 13.25% of all homes sold in Spain were sold to non-Spaniards. In terms of real data, this is around 53,000 homes; 19% of which were sold to British buyers.

This means that Brits are responsible for 2.5% of every homesold in Spain in 2016; double the amount of properties purchased by the Germans; who are the second-strongest foreign market.