Carlos Bernat is suffering in many ways from the current energy crisis. The 57-year-old Spaniard works for a German automotive supplier, has family in Germany and, as a logistics manager, knows the effects of the conflict with Russia on the German economy. And in his own country too, horror scenarios are being propagated for the coming months.
The Madrilenian lowered his electricity bill with a new solar system on the roof: “Let’s see what winter brings.”
His suggestion to the Germans, who he believes will be hit harder and where there are not 3000 hours of sunshine a year: “Anyone who can should winter in the south this year.”
The weakness of Germans for a second residence in Spain is well known. According to the Spanish property register (Colegio de Registradores de la Propiedad), last year they were the most willing real estate investors to buy, especially in the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and in the autonomous region of Valencia: “We must not continue to fight the war in Ukraine indirectly through our gas heating systems co-finance,” says Bernat.
He’s not the only one with this idea. In the past few weeks, for example, various international marketing campaigns have been launched from the Canary Islands and also from the Costa del Sol for long-term holidaymakers from cold Northern Europe. As with other initiatives, the Spaniards are trying to use the emergency situation of the Germans economically for themselves.
After a record summer, hotels, holiday home providers and restaurants are now aiming for a record winter. However, it is questionable whether there is a connection between the German gas shortage and an increase in travel bookings, but TUI and Lufthansa also report in their annual forecasts of unusually strong demand for the coming winter months.
A lightning survey by the market research institute YouGov on behalf of the travel group Tui Germany showed that around three quarters of the 2100 Germans surveyed want to travel this winter, with the Canary Islands taking first place.
Ryanair also expects records in the Spanish market for the current financial year from April 2022 to March 2023: “We expect 50 million passengers, before the pandemic it was 44 million,” says CEO Eddie Wilson. 52 new routes to Spain are planned for the winter.
Bernat likes to send news like this around the family circle, including the article about German pensioners receiving a one-off payment of 300 euros from the German state: “You should invest the money in Spain, that would be solidarity – from both sides,” he says.
The holiday home association of the Canary Islands, Asociación Canaria de Alquiler Vacacional (Ascav), actually sees a connection between the aid and a sharp increase in long-term reservations by 20 percent.
The British stronghold of Benidorm jumped on the train from spending the winter in the south and developed its own program with special offers for long-term holidaymakers aged 50 and over.
The industry association Hosbec announced that for the first time 80 percent of the houses there will be open in winter. The city wants to attract Brits and Belgians in particular to the coast through international advertising.
“We have to help each other in Europe,” says Bernat, who travels across the country for his company. He calculates that a stay in the Canary Islands, in Benidorm or Alicante in a smaller holiday home could cost perhaps 1,000 euros per person per month. Realistically, however, with flight costs and possible minimum heating costs in Germany, it should more than double for families.
Nevertheless: The chairwoman of the association of independent self-employed travel agencies in Germany, Marija Linnhoff, considers the idea to be fundamentally attractive. However, the Balearic Islands she advertises are not very suitable for an energy-saving winter: It is usually too cold there in winter.
In any case, spending the winter in Spain has two major snags for peace in Ukraine: Not every employer allows employees to work at a location outside of Germany for three or four months. In addition, Spain itself is now increasingly sourcing gas from Russia.
According to the Spanish grid operator Enagás, imports from there have increased by almost 16 percent since January, while imports of gas from Algeria have fallen by 42 percent.
Although the average temperatures in southern Spain are between 10 and 25 degrees, if you don’t want to freeze at night, you have to leave the heating on for at least a few hours a day.
The Spanish left-wing party Podemos, like many environmental organizations, does not consider the idea of digital nomads to be sustainable because of the growing number of flights that result from this in addition to tourism. Be that as it may, the German Institute for Tourism Research predicts that holidays will be postponed due to climate change.
Because of the heat, hardly anyone will travel to Spain in summer, but rather in spring, autumn or winter: “That would be perfect for everyone. In the summer, the Spaniards have the beaches to themselves and for the rest of the year we secure thousands of jobs in our hotels with foreign holidaymakers,” says Bernat.
Author: Stefanie Claudia Müller (Madrid)
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The original of this post “Winter in Spain to save on energy costs?” comes from Deutsche Welle.