Spain

Spain

Spain smashes foreign tourism records a month before end of year

Tourist numbers have risen yet again, despite political instability in CataloniaJosep LAGO / AFP It's taken only 11 months for the Spanish international tourism sector to register its best figures yet with 77.8 million foreign visitors, up from 75.6 million in the whole of 2016. Tourism really is the industry that keeps on giving in Spain. According to a study by Frontur, the tourism branch of the country’s National Institute of Statistics, figures from January to November 2017 stand at 77.8 million foreign visitors and that number is likely to rise above 80 million by the time the year is over. That estimate represents a growth of 5 million tourists since 2016. Bearing in mind that Catalonia’s tourism activity slumped by around 15 percent as a result of the region’s political instability in October and by 2.3 percent in November, the figures are extremely encouraging. Especially when considering that Catalonia received a quarter of all foreign visitor..

Spain

Spain to watch over Airbnb to thwart future terrorist attacks

Authorities will keep more detailed records of people booking accommodation across Spain. PAU BARRENA / AFP Spanish authorities plan to keep a watchful eye on vehicle rental and accommodation portals such as Airbnb in the aftermath of the twin attack by jihadists in Catalonia last August. As part of the government’s Antiterrorism Pact, Spain’s Interior Ministry shed light Wednesday on some of the measures they plan to adopt in their fight against the increasing number of jihadist cells operating on Spanish territory. Authorities will keep more detailed records of people booking temporary accommodation across Spain on hotel and home rental sites such as Airbnb or Booking.com. The same measures will be applied to vehicle rental companies and websites, a decision greatly influenced by the fact that the terrorist cell that killed 16 and injured 152 last August in Catalonia rented three vans, one of which was used to ram pedestrians down in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas. Spa..

Spain

Spanish PM better armed against separatists despite poll fiasco

Rajoy has warned repeatedly that he will not hesitate to invoke article 155 powers again. OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP Despite taking fire for losing a snap election in Catalonia, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faces the new year better equipped to block a separatist drive in the wealthy region, analysts said. His detractors have called the results of the December 21 election, which saw separatist parties hold on to their majority in the Catalan parliament, a "fiasco" and a "rout" for Rajoy, in power since 2011. Pro-independence parties failed to win a majority of ballots cast but neither did parties in favour of Spanish unity do as well as was hoped for by the majority of Spain's political class. Rajoy's conservative Popular Party (PP) saw its marginal representation in the 135-seat Catalan parliament reduced even further, to just four seats, from 11 previously. Its main rival, the relative newcomer Ciudadanos, won the most seats with 36, mainly by luring away tra..

Spain

Tabarnia – the ‘region’ that wants to leave Catalonia

A satirical petition proposing that Tabarnia, a non-existent part of independence-minded Catalonia, should break away from the region and remain part of Spain went viral on Tuesday. The Change.org petition, which has gathered over 21,000 signatures in just three days, was a trending topic on Twitter with over 150,000 users of the social media platform discussing it, including Catalan politicians. Its backers mirror the language of Catalan separatists to argue that Tabarnia — a word formed from Barcelona and Tarragona, the names of Catalonia's two main cities on the Mediterranean coast — "is a region that differs in many aspects from the rest of the region it belongs to." Pro-independence parties won a slim majority of 70 seats in the 135-seat Catalan parliament in a regional election on December 21, even though they did not get over half the ballots cast due to a quirk in Catalonia's electoral system which awards more seats to rural areas where support for indepe..

Spain

Spain to raise minimum wage to 736 euros a month

Spain's government has agreed a four percent salary rise for the country’s lowest earners in 2018 and a further increase up to 850 euros a month by 2020, if and only if specific economic growth and employment targets are met. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reached an agreement with trade unions and company representatives on Tuesday which will see the country's lowest paid workers receive 28.4 euros more a month in 2018. By 2019, Spain's minimum wage will theoretically be raised to 773 euros, a 5 percent increase, and in 2020 it will go up to 850 euros a month, which equates to a 10 percent rise. “(Spain has suffered) an intense devaluation of it salaries,” Unai Sordo, leader of Spain's largest union, the Workers' Commissions, said after signing off on the agreement. “This is a boost to rebuild the salaries of people who lost most in the economic crisis.” Spain’s unions can consider the decision a victory, having long called for wages ..

Spain

Spain pulls police reinforcements from Catalonia

Spain on Tuesday began to pull the police reinforcements it had sent to Catalonia ahead of a contested independence referendum in the region on October 1, the government said. Officers from Spain's National Police and Guardia Civil forces sent to the northeastern region at the end of September "will be gradually withdrawn until Saturday", a spokesman for the interior ministry said, adding the withdrawal had started Tuesday. The spokesman did not say how many officers were deployed, but top-selling daily newspaper El Pais put the figure at around 10,000. Shocking scenes of riot police using batons and rubber bullets to remove people from polling stations on the day of the referendum that was banned by the courts made headlines around the world and fuelled tensions in Catalonia. At leasts 92 people were injured on the day of the referendum, according to hospitals. Catalonia's separatist authorities said at the time that nearly 900 people required medical atten..

Spain

Parents allowed to spy on their kids’ WhatsApp: Spain court rules

A divorced father of two sued by his ex-wife for reading their nine-year-old daughter’s WhatsApp chats has been cleared by a Spanish court, setting a precedent for what constitutes parental monitoring in the realms of underage online privacy. The child’s mother presented the case to the Provincial Court of the Northern Spanish city of Pontevedra, claiming that the accused had breached his daughter’s privacy rights by reading her Whatsapp conversations, including those with the plaintiff herself. “Both my kids told me that their father took them to their bedrooms and went over my daughter’s conversations with them,” Spanish daily El Español quoted the mother as telling the court. “He asked my son for his phone’s password too but he refused." But despite the woman’s claims that her ex-husband’s actions represented a breach of Spain’s privacy laws, the judge ruled that there was a legal clash with Article 154 of the country’s civil code, relating to parental responsibiliti..

Spain

Trump and NATO push Spain to spend big on military

The Spanish government has agreed to increase its military spending by more than 80 percent by 2024, a hefty investment that still falls short of NATO’s budgetary requirements. Last May, President Donald Trump publicly criticized his NATO allies for not contributing enough to the international military alliance’s coffers. "Member nations are still not paying what they should be paying," the divisive leader said at a press conference in Brussels at the time. "This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States." On this occasion, there was actually some truth to Trump’s words. Current data and end-of-year forecasts suggest that only five of the 28 Member states – the US, the UK, Estonia, Poland and Greece – have met the 2 percent of GDP target agreed in 2014. Spain, with approximately 0.92 percent of its GDP spent on defense in 2017, is one of NATO’s lowest contributors thus far, alongside Belgium and Luxemburg. NATO has pushed the 23 Member s..

Spain

Nursing home workers win big in Spain’s Christmas lottery

Lottery vendors and winners celebrate at a lottery outlet in Malaga on December 22nd 2017. Photo: AFP. Spain's annual Christmas lottery on Friday showered over 10 million euros on employees of a nursing home in a struggling town where one in five people is out of work. Celebrating employees of the "Sagrado Corazon" nursing home in the central town of Campo de Criptana, many wearing their white uniforms, jumped up and down, sang and drank sparkling wine outside the building, images broadcast on Spanish TV showed. Twenty-two workers at the home held at least one ticket bearing the winning number for the first prize, each paying 400,000 euros ($475,000). "They are workers who really need it," the home's director, Ana Maria Campos, told local media. A truck driver who volunteers at the nursing home bought 30 winning tickets during a trip to the northwestern region of Galicia. He kept two for himself, gave one to each of his two brothers and re-sold the rem..

Spain

Real president Perez insists 2017 was a ‘great year’

Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez looks on after a press conference following his re-election for the club's presidency at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on June 19th 2017. Photo: AFP Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said on Sunday that the club's fans have to be proud of their team's achievements in 2017, despite the 3-0 El Clasico defeat by Barcelona that left them 14 points adrift in the La Liga title race. The Spanish giants completed a double of Champions League and La Liga titles last season and have since added the Club World Cup trophy and the European and Spanish Super Cups. "2017 was a year that the Madridistas will never forget," Perez said in his traditional Christmas message to supporters, a day after the home loss to Barca. "In terms of titles, it's been the best in the 115 years of our history, and for all of our supporters, 2017 was a great year," Perez said. "We are proud of our team and our coach, Zinedine ..

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