Coast of Almería flooded with campers on the way to Morocco

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The coastal strip of Almería will again be flooded this winter by hundreds of European campers. These tourists come from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and the UK. They choose this region as a stopover on their way to countries in North Africa such as Morocco.

Many of them camp right on the beach or in certain natural enclaves, such as the Cabo de Gata Protected Area. Places that, according to the article in Diario de Almería, are often not equipped or permitted for long-term stays.

The operation ‘Paso del Estrecho’

This annual wave of RV tourism is known as Operation Paso del Estrecho. This refers to the fact that thousands of tourists, often of Moroccan origin, travel from all over Europe to Africa. In Germany alone, more than 60,000 campers are sold every year. That number is a tenfold increase in the number of campers sold in Spain (6,000), according to data from the Spanish Association of the Caravaning Industry and Trade (ASEICAR).

Shortage of more than 2,000 camper pitches in Spain

The majority of foreign campers respect the environment and follow the rules. Although there are always some undesirable behaviours that put the entire community in a bad light. ASEICAR emphasises in Diario de Almería that there is a shortage of more than 2,000 camper pitches in Spain. That is why the association calls on municipalities to invest more in such facilities. This type of tourism can provide significant benefits with little investment.

Also read: Insufficient pitches for motorhomes

Lack of places leads to more wild camping

Along the Levante and Poniente coastline, visitors can now wake up every morning directly on the beach with an unobstructed sea view for free. Plans for new camper pitches in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park have been cancelled due to environmental protection. However, contrary to good intentions, this leads to more wild camping.

Campers form small, permanent colonies along the coast, close to water points. If there is overcrowding or complaints, these colonies are contacted by authorities. They then move to other locations within the province. These include Vera, Quitapellejos, Pulpí, the Cabo de Gata Natural Park, and various beaches such as in Adra.

Cogesa Expats

Nuisance and discrimination for Spanish drivers

From this latest pitch, the president of the Autonomous Camper Platform (PACA), Jesús Gallardo, warned against non-compliance and inappropriate behaviour. “It is unbearable, they stay camping for months, they take the water from the connections and empty their septic tanks wherever they go without any control or regulation. No one is imposing sanctions on them.” Gallardo calls this discrimination for the Spanish camper driver who does pay the fines (up to €1,500). “The inappropriate behaviour of some Europeans within all these colonies during their stopover in Almería is ruining camper life on our coast for others.”

Almería as a favourite destination

Almería, with only six official public zones for campers and none in the capital, is in stark contrast to the 17 in Córdoba and 23 in Seville. Nevertheless, the province has become a favourite stop for European campers. This is partly due to less strict regulations than in enclaves such as Sierra Nevada, Doñana and Tarifa. Therefore, in doing so, they avoid the possibility of sanctions that are more common in these provinces.

Negative impact

The situation has led to criticism from local authorities and advocacy groups such as the Autonomous Camper Platform (PACA). These point out the negative impact of long-term camping and the uncontrolled use of local facilities. ASEICAR emphasises that campers are for travelling and discovering new places, not for setting up permanent settlements.

Luis López of ASEICAR explains that the organisation has developed guides and distributed campaigns. They want to make users aware of the legislation and rules in Spain. He hopes that this will encourage them to take better care of the environment they travel to.

Motorhome owner profile

According to López, the profile of the camper is that of a customer with medium purchasing power (the cheapest vehicle costs €80,000). That customer eats in restaurants, buys in stores, loves nature and participates in cultural activities. “He is an environmentally friendly tourist who usually goes to the permitted areas, but there are exceptions.” These ensure that a situation arises that is not desirable for anyone.

Also read: What documents do you need to drive your motorhome through Spain

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