Spain travel warning alert: UK holidaymakers told country faces 'worst drought in 200 years' - as wine firm Freixenet furloughs workers

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UK holidaymakers have been issued a Spain holiday warning as popular tourist hotspots face “worst drought in 200 years”

Holidaymakers going to Spain have been warned as the country is facing one of its worst droughts in 200 years. The water shortage is affecting hotspots in Catalonia including Barcelona, and emergency regulations have been brought in.

The water-saving measures include the closure of pools and beach showers being switched off. Over Easter there were large signs in English warning tourists: "Drought alert. During your stay, save water".

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The warning isn’t just for visitors as native Spaniards are also suffering. This week sparkling wine firm Freixenet revealed it would be furloughing 80 per cent of its workers in Catalonia. The north-eastern region has been beset by drought for more than three years, and this has severely affected grape production.

In a statement Freixenet said the temporary layoff – covering up to 615 of the 778 people it employs in Catalonia – would begin in next month.

“The measure, which has been implemented in the interests of responsibility, aims to guarantee the operation of the business and to maintain employability in order to deal with external factors and the force majeure caused by the serious drought,” the company said. “The furlough is an exceptional measure that has been taken in the current context of a crisis that had been brought about by a lack of raw materials because of the harsh drought that has affected the sector since 2021 – and which hit the El Penedès area particularly hard in 2023.”

Farmers have previously warned that the situation is “critical” as crops aren’t growing. A local from Seville shared: "It's the first time our well has gone dry in over 13 years. We are having to completely redesign our garden to make it more drought resilient. We've changed our vegetable garden to a fruit orchard, and we recycle the greywater from the washing machines by filtering it through three ponds."

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UK holidaymakers have been issued a Spain holiday warning as popular tourist hotspots face “worst drought in 200 years”. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)UK holidaymakers have been issued a Spain holiday warning as popular tourist hotspots face “worst drought in 200 years”. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)
UK holidaymakers have been issued a Spain holiday warning as popular tourist hotspots face “worst drought in 200 years”. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

David Mascort, the regional government’s environmental chief, has urged people not to panic about their holidays. He explained: "The message from Catalonia’s tourism agency and business department to campsites and hotels is one of calm: (People) can enjoy their holidays here as usual."

It comes as residents In the Canary Islands have been demanding a tourism tax and stricter restrictions for visitors. The residents warn that the hotspots could be on the brink of collapse. 

In Palm-Mar, a small town on the southern side of Tenerife, residents and visitors woke up to messages graffitied on walls including “Tourists go home”, “My misery your paradise”, and “Average salary in Canary Islands is 1,200”. Protest rallies will be held simultaneously in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and La Palma on 20 April. Protests are planned in the popular Spanish resorts over the influx of Britons.

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