Spanish holiday crisis: Brits' summer trips in jeopardy as popular tourist resorts close pools due to drought

5 April 2024, 08:19 | Updated: 5 April 2024, 10:22

Popular Spanish tourist resorts have been forced to close their pools due to the ongoing drought
Popular Spanish tourist resorts have been forced to close their pools due to the ongoing drought. Picture: Spanish Gov/Handout/Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

There are fears holidays to Spain may be in jeopardy this summer as popular tourist resorts along the Spanish coast have been forced to close their pools due to the ongoing drought.

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Spain is currently suffering one of its worst droughts since the 1960s, with particular concern in the popular holiday destination Malaga, Andalusia.

Last month, the head of Spain's state weather agency in Andalusia, Jesús Riesco, warned it was "highly improbable" that the region's drought would be over by the summer.

As a result, some popular tourist resorts and private rentals have already been forced to close their pools in a bid to save water.

This includes El Retiro de Bel Air in Estepona, near Marbella, where one apartment owner and AirBnB host told LBC residents are still contributing to their €3,000 residents fees despite having no access to their pool.

El Retiro de Bel Air, Marbella - the pool is closed
El Retiro de Bel Air, Marbella - the pool is closed. Picture: Handout
The worst affected areas in Spain
The worst affected areas in Spain. Picture: Spanish Gov

"The pool is closed for an indefinite period," Thomas Patrick told LBC.

"I have a guest who booked for August who has already contacted me about the possibility of cancelling - we stand to lose around £10,000 of earnings if the pools stay shut," he continued.

Ban 'likely to continue' for rest of the year

While the pool has not been drained, residents face a hefty fine for using it. The apartment complex's irrigation system has also been shut off, with grey water being shipped in to keep the gardens fresh.

Other popular resorts are also affected, including one complex in Selwo.

Residents in the resorts have been warned the ban is likely to stay in for the rest of the year, unless the drought improves.

Meanwhile, hotels are still allowed to keep the pools open but if the situation worsens they may be affected too, affecting thousands of Brits heading to Spain this summer.

Signs of improvement

Authorities had set a maximum water usage of 160 litres per resident on the the Costa del Sol, Axarquia and Malaga each day, making the use of private pools even more difficult.

But after significant rainfall over Easter, restrictions in Andalusia look set to ease slightly, after water reserves rose to around 40 per cent of the region's capacity.

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The region's minister for agriculture, Carmen Crespo, indicated this week that restrictions on daily consumption levels may be lifted from 160 litres per resident to between 180 and 225 litres.

Elsewhere, in Catalunya, 70 towns in the Barcelona metropolitan area had emergency measures brought in earlier this year, which includes a ban on filling up swimming pools as well as private pools.

The drought has worsened in Andalucia
The drought has worsened in Andalucia in recent months. Picture: Getty
Restrictions have been brought in in some parts of Spain
Restrictions have been brought in in some parts of Spain. Picture: Getty

Nonetheless, recent rain in Malaga over Easter has brought some hope for those hoping to enjoy their holidays in the pool this summer.

Farmers had once again been expected to go without a cereal harvest, but rainfall was high enough for it to go ahead - unlike last year.

In fact, if more rain falls in April, farmers could have some of their best harvests in history.

However, the drought could still worsen as temperatures are expected to soar once again this summer.

Spain has already experienced a mini winter heatwave, soaring to nearly 30C in January. And last summer, temperatures hit 47C in Valencia, near Alicante and Benidorm - another popular destination for Brits.

Temperatures reaching this high once again would make it very difficult to holiday in Spain if the pools are shut, with tourists left unable to dip into the water to cool down.