Alotca has had a meeting with Ricardo de la Puente, the viceconsejero de Turismo in the Canarian Government, the head, in other words, of the tourism department in the Canaries. I can update as follows.
We have not been granted an audience with the President himself not least because he will not intervene in the running of Turismo and considers the viceconsejero completely in control of the department. Sr de la Puente, for his part, has said that the Government has a model for tourism for the Canaries and that uncontrolled letting is not a part of that model. As such, there is no hope whatsoever for open letting on residential complexes – which Alotca was not lobbying for, nor of independent villas – for which we were lobbying.
There is, however, to be new legislation to amend the law in at least two respects: the first is with regard to touristic complexes, and the second to villas on complexes that are currently residential. The new law is to be open for proposals to be submitted in around two months or so, and so at the moment its final form is unknown. What is clear, however, is that the sole agent system is to be changed in some ways, with a new concept of a “condominium” coming into play alongside a type of shares system in the running of touristic complexes. As part of these changes, complexes that are often called “dormant” will be permitted to resuscitate their licences. Also, villas on complexes that are currently residential, but whose land is or can be designated touristic, will be allowed to apply for touristic licences.
As far as Alotca is concerned, once the law is opened for proposals, we will be submitting for further changes, particularly with regard to independent villas. We have to recognize, however, that Turismo is effectively closed to such suggestions. The Canarian Government’s model for tourism, as I said above that Sr de la Puente made clear, does not include any such vision. As such, we have decided to shelve the idea of a petition: it has been made abundantly clear to us that the law will not change beyond the extent already outlined, and so it is on the one hand pointless lobbying for changes we have been categorically told will not be considered, and on the other hand, some of the changes we were lobbying for have already been granted.
I am not trying to imply that Alotca has won these changes single handedly, but it became very clear in the meeting that our actions so far have played a clear role in making the Government change its stance, however slightly. Instead of a petition, therefore, we feel that the better way forward is to go to the European Court itself, and the lawyers are currently investigating the possibilities in this regard.
With respect to appeals outstanding, many have expired through exceeding the six month period within which the Government had to complete the process. This is in no small part because of the extensive and expansive nature of the appeals submitted at each stage, which have tied up the process and consumed the time available for the Government. Those which are still ongoing, and which the Government does finalise within six months may then be appealed in the Courts, but the lawyers are now in no doubt at all that the Courts will not overturn the fines: the best that can be achieved is a minimisation of the fines to €1,500, the lowest amount for the “grave” category that the fines are in. For those who find themselves in that position, the lawyers estimate that the costs involved will be around €1,000, which comprises a similar fee to the first appeals plus an extra fee for the barrister that is required to appear in Court.
Although it is worth appealing to try for that reduction, any such judgment will not achieve the overturning of the law itself: the Courts must judge within the legislation as it stands, and that will not change with regard to the “offence”, nor the fines. This is why the lawyers consider the next stage must be examination of the possibilities of an appeal to the European Court. We feel that in some respects we have failed, but in others we have had successes. As I said above, we are not trying to imply that Alotca has won these changes alone, but our asociación has had a clear impact in shifting the Government’s stance, however slightly.
I’m happy to answer questions or clarify points, and of course will post again during the proposal stage of the new law, and when there is any further information on the possibility of taking the issue as a case to the European Court.