Moisés Camacho loves his small homeland, Cádiz, so much that he even presides over an association for the defense of its heritage and culture, ADIP. But a year and a half ago, the historian got tired of finding only small, expensive apartments of poor quality and moved to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a town 40 minutes by car from the capital. Diasporas like Camacho’s are not new in a city that has been losing population for decades, but his has coincided with a boom unprecedented hotel for the people of Cadiz.
Not even the pandemic has stopped the new hotel and apartment hotel promotions that proliferate around every corner. There are already 21 in the last year, according to data from a City Council that fails to unblock the approval of a municipal regulation to “puncture the bubble of speculation” that the councilor for Urbanism, Martín Vila, believes weighs on Cádiz.
The city has doubled its offer of accommodation places in less than four years. If in 2017 there were 573 establishments with capacity for 5,277 people, now there are 1,789 businesses with 11,735 places, according to data provided by the Territorial Delegation in Cádiz of the Andalusian Regional Government Tourism Department. The bulk of the increase is in tourist-purpose housing (VFT), the legal figure under which the Andalusian Administration regulates Airbnb-type vacation rentals. From the 525 VFT that existed four years ago, the capital of Cádiz now has 1,724 floors.
The increase was followed by aparthotels, which went from 15 establishments with capacity for 372 visitors, to 26 businesses with 908 beds. In the same period, hotels went from 33 with 2,586 beds to 39 with 2,828 units. And in all this increase, a good part of the 21 building permits in buildings in the historic center and Extramuros – the expansion area of the city – issued in the last year for new hotel promotions, as quantified by the Municipal Planning Delegation, still does not appear. .
The movement of workers and cranes has not stopped in the city or with the uncertainty that the pandemic installed in the sector. On the Paseo Marítimo, Grupo Q has been building a 260-room hotel since February 2020. Barceló is waiting to start work on the train station lobby to add another 180 rooms. Only the Hotusa chain – owner of Eurostars – has bought and refurbishes four historic palaces in Cádiz to turn them into luxury hotels and aparthotels, of which 106 units have already been opened for reservations. Similar investment announcements occur around the city. For Stefan de Clerck, president of the Provincial Hotel Association of Cádiz, so much movement is a clear sign that the capital “has a very good tourism future with quality projects.”
Works on a new hotel in the city next to Victoria beach.Juan Carlos TORO
This hotel boom would have been a cause for joy during the Bicentennial of the Cortes de Cádiz, in 2012, when important events such as the XXII Ibero-American Summit revealed the evident lack of places. However, the present confluence of the boom of the houses for tourist use with the new investments place at a difficult crossroads a city that has just 4.4 square kilometers of urban surface filled for decades. The progressive and constant loss of population in which the capital is plunged does not help either: if in 1981 there were 157,766 residents registered, as of January 2020 (latest data available) the figure had dropped to 115,439 inhabitants, according to the National Institute of Statistics.
Lack of land and work
“We have been in a continuous decline in population for 30 years, which has fallen by up to 25%. The factors that have influenced are the lack of land and work, the rental price and even the sociological conception of the housing conditions you are looking for. The interesting thing is to know if now there is also a cause-effect relationship with the boom tourist ”, reasons the sociologist Teodoro Clavijo.Camacho is clear that his departure from Cádiz is caused by price speculation and tourist rentals. “All my friends from when I was little live outside of Cádiz, except for one or two,” the historian said.
Vila also believes that tourism is behind the worsening of the existing residential problem in Cádiz. “In the last five years, in Sagasta street rents have risen 180%, and in the Santa María neighborhood they have risen 130%”, assesses the councilor, referring to two of the points where tourist accommodation stands out the most. . The Idealista rental portal estimates that rentals in Cádiz have grown by 5.8% in the last year. “When speculation has no limit, what happens happens, prices skyrocket. We defend a city model in which the right to live here is not harmed by uncontrolled tourism ”, says the mayor.
Tackle the problem
But the Consistory, governed by the confluence of the Adelante Cádiz left, has been stuck for a year in a new municipal regulation that aims to limit tourist uses on residential land, through a reform of the general plan of the city. In July 2020, the full opposition overthrew the project that, in practice, entailed the paralysis of new licenses for hotels or aparthotels. Meanwhile, a modification of urban planning was drafted that will suggest that only buildings with the highest degree of protection can accommodate this type of establishment. “They are palaces that have never been homes and their conversion into residential would make the purchase price more expensive. The problem is now occurring in popular areas where projects for tourist apartments and houses for tourist purposes do not stop proliferating ”, adds the person in charge of Urban Planning.
Vila’s intention is to fully carry out the initiative at the end of this month and, this time, have the support of the PSOE: “The city needs hotels, but without the dramatic situation we are experiencing.” The agreement is not supposed to be easy, in view of the debate that has arisen. In fact, De Clerck believes that the solution to the problem should focus only on vacation rental properties: “Hotel investment has nothing to do with rising prices; tourist homes, yes. More serious regulation is needed ”. In the middle, people from Cádiz like Camacho see the future of their city with concern: “Maybe before there were no houses to rent, but at least there were people in Cádiz. Now, the farms are empty waiting for the investor to come. The identity of the center is going to be lost. That is the future that is going to exist in Cádiz, I have no doubt ”.