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Sunday, April 16, 2006


At Spain’s peak as a world power (from 16th to 18th century) the gold and silver taken from America and brought into the economy over Seville laid the foundations for the defeat, dissolution and financial collapse of the country.

After the second world war Spain started to come out of its poverty due to two sources of foreign income: the emigrants going to Northern Europe to work and sending home hard currency, and the trickle of foreign tourists going south to spend their income.

While the Spanish emigrants returned home or stayed with their families in the north, a great number of immigrants from the third world is coming into Spain and sending savings back to their families.

Tourism gathered momentum over the years and become the most important economical sector in the country, creating jobs, economical growth and an enormous surplus on the foreign currency balance.

From Spain joined the Common Market in 1986, a new river of gold poured into the country. Over the years Spain has received half of all money paid out from Brussels to
bring less developed member countries up to the EU average. That stream is drying out soon, and Spain is expected to contribute to the development of the new member countries in the east.

Foreign tourism has stagnated at the 50 million visitors mark. A great part of what is statistically labelled as “tourists” is in reality the foreign property buyers and owners. The hotel tourism is diminishing, the tourists staying fewer days and spending less money. The foreign currency balance is deteriorating by months, as the Spanish import more and export less. And the purchase of property along the coasts of Spain is taking a dip, while the foreign buyers look for more economically priced properties along other shores.

Has Spain learned its lessons from the period of “the gold from America”? Has it used the funds pouring in to lay the foundation for a modern production? Has it changed its tourist model to adapt to the new situation? Has it done anything to maintain the retired property owners wanting to spend their pensions in the south?

Maybe we shall have an answer to our questions very soon.