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21 June, 2024
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Spain and Greece face dire drought conditions

Catalonia calls for equal rights and obligations



By Maria Katsounaki

“The tourism sector has to adapt to the situation we are experiencing, which is absolutely abnormal,” a member of the Catalan government told the Financial Times in an article published on April 18. “It is a very important sector, but with the same rights and the same obligations as any other.”

A part of Spain as well as a large part of the Mediterranean are suffering drought conditions. Officials such as Andrea Toreti, the coordinator of the European and global drought observatory of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, told Kathimerini in February that, based on the data collected, Greece is also one of the countries facing a high risk of drought, especially in the immediate future.

Press reports concentrate on and cover a wide range of interests and stakeholders, such as the story (four months ago) that Barcelona players will have to pay the water bill out of their own pockets to shower.

Everyone must contribute to address the problem of drought, whether it manifests itself or remains hidden so as not to disturb the most important source of income: tourism. But how will visitors traveling for relaxation and vacations comply with rationed water, jerricans, very low pressure in the shower, and other unpopular and harmful measures? Millions of people are traveling from one country to another, with the Mediterranean receiving – much to the celebration of the governments – the largest volume. On the one hand, overtourism – which is not a given if we look at the time of the global Covid-19 lockdowns – is an alibi for the non-development of other productive models, and, on the other hand, worsens existing problems, such as water supply and the infrastructure of the destination.

In Spain, the mix of conflicting interests due to drought between tourists and the local population is explosive. Of course, profit is an effective pain reliever, suppressing the “pain” of water deprivation, but only temporarily. Thirst and exposure to various health hazards are not cured by the influx of revenue.

The drought affecting Europe is the worst in five centuries. Does this concern the European Parliament elections in June at all? Is it rated as an important issue or not? In the end, which of our identities is stronger: that of a citizen, voter or tourist, in general?

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