Ana Fernández Carrillo is a businesswoman and the head of the AEHRA, that is the association of businesspeople of the hotel and restaurant industry of the Albayzín. She has been working in the Albayzín for almost 20 years.

At my restaurant, we serve simple dishes, since our location is a place where plenty of people pass by. It will soon be 3 years since we opened. I have tried to adapt my service to the needs of the people. I don’t serve expensive or complex dishes” Ana explained. She used to have a restaurant overlooking the Alhambra. Before she bought it, this establishment was a traditional teahouse, and before that a typical pub, which was there for 30 years.

This change is an example of the times in which the sector is living in the district: “The growth in tourism benefits us, but not too much. The number of cármenes overlooking the Alhambra has grown, but there aren’t many new businesses. Some have been restored, and some new ones have opened, but the number is not high.”

Ana remembers that the Association was born in 2011 due to the fact that some friends who managed bars and restaurants decided to organize meetings in the district. “We were always talking about the same topic: when the tourists came, they visited the Mirador de San Nicolás and then asked what they could do after that, because everything was closed.”

“Mass tourism is not good for hoteliers or anyone. Umbrella tourism leaves very little money. We prefer families, small groups, …”

Nowadays, the Association is made up of roughly twenty people. “We are a bit tired, because nobody listens to us. Mass tourism is neither good for the hotel industry nor for anyone. The Mass tourism strategy leaves very little money. We prefer families or little groups of tourists.” In her opinion, the reason the Association does not have more members is “because it is convenient. The point of joining is not to ask for something and receive it. We must share the same interests. The current members advocate for sustainable tourism, and perhaps the reason people choose not to join is that they don’t believe in this kind of tourism.”

The transport system to the Albayzín is one of the most concerning issues for the head of the Association. “People can’t reach the district by car, and must choose between walking or public transport (be warned that the little tourist train in the city is not a means of public transport, it’s private and everybody is against it). I advise people to go to the Alhambra by passing through Cuesta de los Chinos, which has been improved in the last two years. We fought a lot to enhance the transportation to the Alhambra. However, the institutions decided to remove bus number 32, which was used both by tourists and residents, and we are still without it.” For her, this “growing insecurity” is one of the major concerns for the residents, along with the wish for a cleaner district.

The Albayzín is a beautiful district, but it has changed a lot. The residents say that, without supermarkets or shops, what would the people do? There aren’t shops because the houses are abandoned, and the restoration is too expensive, and so modest people buy houses in the districts of Zaidín or Chana. Others have decided to leave.”

Also, her suppliers are affected by this situation. “Many don’t want to work in the district because it is too difficult for them. They are only allowed to pass through the district on a strict timetable, there aren’t any loading and unloading sites. The district’s bars and restaurants are small companies, and sometimes I think that we must be grateful to the suppliers for not abandoning us. In the district I buy bread, sweets, fruit and vegetables.”

Her cohabitation with the rest of the residents is good. She even stated that: “The bars’ terraces cannot occupy the total spaces of squares and streets. This needs to be regulated, because it is a public space. This district needs both tourists and bars and shops. However, there aren’t that many businesses. If more tourists spent the night here, there would of course be more shoes shops or gift shops.”

She concludes: “We are in a unique district, declared a World Heritage site! We have to bet on it.”

* Ana Fernández is the first woman seated on the right of the picture.