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Home Culture The Government will not allow paying to visit the Plaza de España in Seville: “Behind it is the privatization of the PP” | News from Andalusia

The Government will not allow paying to visit the Plaza de España in Seville: “Behind it is the privatization of the PP” | News from Andalusia

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The controversial proposal of the mayor of Seville, the popular José Luis Sanz, to close the Plaza de España and charge a fee to visitors from outside this province has reached the control session of the Government of the Congress of Deputies. The Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, reiterated this Wednesday at the parliamentary headquarters her emphatic rejection of this initiative, which she already expressed through her X account as soon as it became known. “The Government of Spain is not going to allow the privatization of this public space nor will it charge for visits,” said the minister.

Their opposition is decisive in whether the Sevillian councilor’s proposal goes ahead or not, since the State is the owner of the buildings that are located in the gallery that surrounds the Plaza de España and of the balustrade and the benches that identify the provinces. , while the City Council is the owner of the open space delimited by that complex. Sanz had proposed the signing of an agreement between both administrations to materialize the closure and payment for access, an amount – which the council has not defined, although the mayor always speaks of three or four euros – of which 75% would go to the municipal coffers and the rest, to those of the State.

The fact that the initiative had not been previously consulted with the Executive has earned him the reproach of “betrayal” by the socialist deputy for Seville, Alfonso Rodríguez Gómez de Celis, who was the one who had asked the parliamentary question to which he answered the minister. “Sanz’s intention is not only economic, but behind it is the intention to privatize the PP,” added Montero, who is from Seville. On Monday, the councilor conveyed his intention to go ahead with his closure plan to the Government’s deputy delegate in Seville, to whom he confirmed that he had already requested an interview with the Minister of Finance. Aware that it is contrary to the proposal, Sanz has already warned: “I hope that you will consider an alternative maintenance formula. “I’ll take mine.” The mayor did not specify what they would consist of.

Sanz justifies the closure of the Plaza de España — a jewel of regionalist architecture, designed by Aníbal González, for the 1929 Universal Exposition — and the charging of a toll from tourists to guarantee the permanent security of the site — the subject of attacks and destruction, like other monumental points in the city – and its maintenance through the installation of a restoration workshop. On Tuesday he added one more argument. With the income, the Plaza de España would become the “economic engine of the rest of the spaces on 29”, in order to have them in perfect condition for the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the exhibition in five years.

Montero has not only opposed the formula proposed by the mayor of Seville, but has made an amendment to his entire municipal policy. “Public resources must be managed well to comply with the conservation and repair of monuments,” said the minister, who took the opportunity to remember that the Seville City Council has received 56% more funds since Pedro Sánchez governed. “José Luis Sanz does not have a city model,” she added.

The Government of Spain and the socialist opposition in the City Council insist that, to guarantee the maintenance of the Plaza de España and the rest of the monuments in Seville, it is necessary to demand the implementation of the tourist tax, a tax that the Seville councilor does not accept. is opposed, but considers that it is not incompatible with the specific rate proposed for the Plaza de España. “In Rome you pay tourist tax, but you also pay later to enter the Coliseum,” he alleges.

Alternatives

The experts consulted by this newspaper are suspicious of the mayor’s plan, considering it immature and concrete and understanding that it poses the risk that it will end up being applied, precisely for reasons of vandalism and maintenance, to other enclaves of the city. José Alberto Castañeda, dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Sciences at the University of Granada and tourism expert, warns that the tourist tax “is a tool that is here to stay.” As an alternative to closing the Plaza de España, he proposes limiting the daily capacity, as occurs in other open spaces, including natural ones. “This has a complication and an added cost because it involves managing access control,” he clarifies. This could cover the maintenance, but it could not raise money to pay for the security that the mayor also intends to pay for.

Lola Frías, director of the Interuniversity Institute of Tourism of Andalusia, created by the Universities of Granada, Malaga and Seville, is also in favor of the application of a tourist tax and the limitation of capacity to access certain monuments. “There are cities under very significant tourist pressure and those responsible must ensure environmental, economic and social sustainability,” she explains. “When a visitor wants to know what a plaza is like, for example, he wants to do so by seeing what the customs of its residents are like, but we find that in many of them there are only tourists, there is no social sustainability. Just as there are access restrictions for some beaches, they should be imposed in other enclaves, because in the end the experience is more enriching,” she explains.

José Ignacio Castillo, professor in the Department of Economic Analysis and Political Economy of the University of Seville and member of the Andalusian Tourism Plenary, is also in favor of applying a tourist tax: “The liberalization of air transport and the competition of airlines low cost have allowed the effect in tourism other than tourist packages to be negligible and even more so when the majority of the destinations that are our direct competition have it.” Only once it is implemented, he suggests that we can “study charging for other attractions in the city”, but not in isolation, but rather by offering attractive packages that combine offers of visits and transportation, like a tourist card.

While the Government of the Junta maintains a strong opposition to the implementation of a tourist tax, because it is contrary to the closed defense of its tax reduction policy, there are more and more councilors from its own party who defend it. Sanz, who does so timidly – he alleges that the tourism sector should agree and that it should be specified how and what it is allocated – has been joined this week by the mayor of Córdoba – another city that fights against touristification – and president of the Federation of Municipalities and Provinces of Andalusia, which has proposed “opening a working group” to analyze its application.

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