British holidaymakers heading to Spain could share their hotels with illegal immigrants from Africa.
Human rights groups are asking hotels in several holiday hotspots to list rooms for around £35 a night so asylum seekers can get good accommodation.
The plea follows a major crisis in the Canary Islands, where illegal immigrants arrive almost daily who have survived the deadly sea journey from Africa in small boats.
So far, hotels in the Valencia region have agreed to help, while popular British destination Benidorm has refused, saying the request does not come from the government and they feel it has not been ‘well thought through’.
The migration crisis in the Canary Islands broke all records in October, even surpassing 2006, when thousands of people tried to move to Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria. Nearly 15,000 people arrived on the islands’ coasts last month.
In the photo: migrants arrive on a boat in the Canary Islands (archive photo)
Valencia (archive photo). So far, hotels in the Valencia region have agreed to help, but Benidorm says it cannot yet join in because the request has not come from the government and they believe it has not been ‘well thought through’.
The Atlantic route is considered one of the deadliest for illegal immigrants in their small boats, often without life jackets, but desperate for a new life in Europe. Although most survive, thousands of people have died in the past twenty years.
This week another 218 people reached Tenerife, El Hierro and Gran Canaria, but three died. In Tenerife, tourists were stunned to see 201 migrants arriving at the port of Los Cristianos.
The Spanish Ministry of the Interior confirmed that the archipelago received 14,976 migrants on its coast in October, marking a historic record for the arrival of foreigners in small boats.
Migrants have arrived in the Canary Islands so far this year.
A total of 44,404 migrants have entered Spain irregularly so far this year, marking an increase of 57.5% (16,208 more) compared to the same period last year.
The highest number of irregular migrants arrived in 2018, when 57,498 people arrived on Spanish coasts.
The renewed crisis means there is more pressure on authorities to find temporary shelter for the illegal immigrants who need to be processed before being sent back to their countries.
Some camps are overcrowded and at least 150 people had to spend their first night in the garage of a police station in southern Tenerife, where conditions were said to be ‘terrible’.
“Broken pipes were repaired with electrical tape, which has obviously had negative results, with sewage leakage and subsequent leakage to the garage door, causing a bad odor, slipping hazard and a serious risk of the spread of infectious diseases,” a spokesperson said of the Spanish Police Federation.
Hotels on the Spanish mainland have therefore been asked to help by making rooms available for the migrants.
Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are contacting the hotels, but the Valencian Hotel Association HOSBEC has criticized the ‘lack of coordination’ between the public and private sectors.
The group says it is happy to help but will not do so until arrangements are properly coordinated by the Spanish government.
“Over the past 72 hours, several hoteliers in the Valencian Community have expressed their dismay after being contacted by external organizations offering flexible accommodation contracts for refugees in the coming weeks, adapted to the economic and service conditions of each establishment,” a spokesperson said.
Hosbec confirmed that no hotels in Benidorm were helping, but was aware that refugees in other tourist destinations in the Valencian community were already staying in affiliated hotels or will be in the coming days.