Devastating Volcano Eruption May Be Used To Attract Tourists To Canaries, Minister Says | Spain
Spain’s tourism minister has been accused of insensitivity after suggesting that a devastating and ongoing volcanic eruption on the Canary Island of La Palma could be used as an “attraction” to draw visitors to the archipelago.
About 5,500 people were evacuated and at least 120 homes destroyed after the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja mountain range, one of the islands’ most active volcanic regions.
Speaking on Monday morning, Reyes Maroto said the government wanted to reassure tourists already in La Palma – or going there – that the island was still safe despite the eruption, which began on Sunday afternoon.
“The most important thing right now is to reassure the tourists who have been affected, as well as those who may be on the island today or during the week,” she told Canal Sur radio. .
“We provide information so that tourists can come to the island and witness something without a doubt unprecedented for themselves. This information will let tourists know that the island is open and also if their hotel has been affected so that they can stay elsewhere and enjoy their vacation.
“We can also make the most of it as an attraction so that many tourists who want to enjoy what nature has brought to La Palma can do so in the weeks and months to come.”
Maroto said that the National Tourism Institute, Turespaña, and the country’s embassies “will provide all the information necessary for the island to become an attraction for tourists who wish to see this wonderful natural spectacle in a careful manner, because what concerns us at the moment, it is the safety of citizens and tourists ”.
When asked if La Palma could become a “volcanic tourism” destination, the minister said that the island “has a volcanic part in its tourism offer, and this could be an attraction that we can make the most of. “.
Maroto’s political opponents were quick to catch his words. “Minister, this is totally inappropriate !!! ” said Agustín Almodóbar, tourism spokesperson for the Conservative People’s Party (PP). “There are people who lose their homes !!!”
Almodóbar’s colleague, PP general secretary Teodoro García Egea, tweeted: “Can anyone confirm that the minister said this when hundreds of people are losing everything they have?”
Maroto sought to “clarify” his remarks later on Monday, insisting the immediate goal was to work to help islanders cope with the aftermath of the eruption.
“Today, we stand alongside the victims and those affected, and we are thinking about how best to return to this normalcy that nature has changed,” she said. “In the future, in the weeks and months to come, when this disaster has passed, we will be thinking about how we can once again make the beautiful island of La Palma a tourist area.
According to civil protection authorities, between 120 and 130 houses have been destroyed as a result of the eruption, which has so far left no injuries.
The volcano had already erupted in 1971, killing a man who was taking pictures near the lava flows.