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.