Gran Canaria now has a new beach. Although locals complain that it is still completely fenced off.
Tourism company Anfi, who made their fortunes from selling timeshare, have completed their much touted and long awaited new beach at Tauro, and according to them, “in record time” after having reportedly invested €6 million and deposited more than 70,000 tons of sand especially purchased and imported from the Sahara desert.
Representatives of the exiled government of the displaced native Sahawari peoples of Western Sahara have heavily criticised the exploitation of their natural resources without their express permission or compensation.
The Polisario Front delegation to the Canary Islands denounced the import of sand from El Aaiun, the occupied capital of Western Sahara, by the Spanish company Anfi Tauro SA, which has been used to establish the new artificial beach in the municipality of Mogán.
The Saharawi delegation to the Canary Islands, after hearing the news of the start of sand transportation, described the act as “criminal and illegal” having added to the looting of property and resources that rightly belong to the native Saharawi people, who were displaced by the occupying Moroccan army after Spain abandoned the territory more than 40 years ago.
The controversial new beach works are also supposed to include a new shoreline walkway between Playa Amadores and Playa del Cura. The resulting beach is now nearly 300 meters long and 50m wide, and will nearly double the original size, and be ready to enjoy in August, say Anfi..
This is the first beach construction of its kind in 25 years on Gran Canaria. Anfi also claim that in “the medium term” a 300 berth marina and several resort hotels are planned, totaling 7,500 beds.
“After many years of waiting, the Anfi dream continues with the construction of a beach that will be a landmark for leisure on Gran Canaria” said the director general of the tourism group, José Luis Trujillo in a statement.
In his opinion, this initiative will “kick-start” the future development of the Anfi Tauro project, claiming that this is the “investment horizon” for the tourist area, whose urban planning began all the way back in November 1987. He added that the development will generate “jobs and wealth” for Gran Canaria. “We will make a five-star offer for both local residents and all those who visit us,” said Trujillo.
This beach is set to include five-star quality services for all tourists, according to the group. The initiative has taken nearly two decades to get all the relevant permissions in place, and is being heralded as Anfi’s return to investing in “first class quality and infrastructure development.”
Trujillo said “We are very proud to represent this exciting project, which I am sure will be as amazing as the Anfi del Mar”, pointing out that “the completion of the beach … will serve to attract more tourists to the municipality“.
The Tauro valley, in which they propose construction of several long term complexes, is ostensibly aimed at being a tourism boost for the whole area. The resulting infrastructure is planned, at least on paper, to include a premium hotel offering, which will transform the Barranco de Tauro.
Local residents have decried the new development as having irrevocably changed one of the last natural pebble beaches in the area, where at least two longstanding popular bars are threatened with demolition, and environmentalists have pointed out the potential hazards of importing sand from elsewhere, without first studying if non-indigenous species may have also been imported to the island.
It remains to be seen what further developments are likely in the near future, with critics pointing out that little more has been achieved than shifting sands to distract observers from a crumbling timeshare model that has, over recent months, exerted serious pressure on all Spanish companies that have been shown to have repeatedly failed to comply with strict timeshare laws over the last two decades.
A supreme court ruling in 2015 lead to what has been termed by some as a tsunami of litigation against the once mighty and seemingly invincible timeshare operators.