Wolfgang Kiessling, president of the Loro Park Group, has been trying for at least 6 years to build what was billed as Europe’s biggest water park, here on Gran Canaria, in fact the original Siam Park was suggested more than 15 years ago, but red tape and bureaucracy on Gran Canaria it seems led to that first park opening instead on Tenerife back in 2008, where his successful if sometimes controversial parrot park zoo has been operating since 1972 and grown 10 fold in size to now cover more than 13 hectares (33 acres).
After securing a land deal with the aristocratic Del Castillo family back in 2013, and clearing what appeared to be the last remaining administrative hurdles with the Island Water Board and Spanish state owned lands back in 2014, Kiessling felt sure he had at last secured the site needed and predicted his finished €100m landmark attraction to likely complete construction within 2 years.
However, it seems the battle to get this major new tourist attraction built was far from over, with several groups opposed to the development tying the project up in court cases and administrative objections for several years. Works to channel the El Veril ravine started in 2017, as a prerequisite to the park’s construction, then a storm in a tea cup about aboriginal seashell remains led to a public spat between the local mayor and the president of the island, and then what appeared to be a moving of the goal posts after the local council changed local by-laws to demand a further €2m extra to the originally agreed budget for the project to develop the public roads on the perimeter of the site, without which the town hall would refuse to grant the final works license that would allow the project to finally break ground. Meanwhile lots of acrimony and finger pointing ensued.
At last year’s Madrid tourism fair FITUR Grupo Loro Park said they were only awaiting the San Bartolomé de Tirajana town hall, and that they were ready to begin construction, but then another public spat resulted in a court case with the developer accusing the local administration of contravening the groups fundamental rights. Although the judgement back in October, did not agree with this view, the judge did also clearly state that the local council appeared to have been obstructive and been purposefully dragging their feet. The Spanish state had already stepped in, and now claimed dominion over the parts of the land that they still own, and demanded clarification of what monies they would be due for the project. All seemed lost.
Only last week Kiessling claimed to have somewhat lost his motivation stating that he has already spent €20m and still has no licence to begin work.
Now with this morning’s inauguration of the 2020 Fitur in full swing, a positive shine has been put on the whole affair. According to news agency EFE, following a meeting last week with the new President of the Canary Islands Government, Ángel Víctor Torres (PSOE), the president of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales (NC), and the new mayor of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Conchi Narváez (PSOE) , Kiessling says he has “reached an agreement to find a way to eliminate the difficulties in the construction of the park” and hopes that the project can begin this year, in 2020.
The German-born business man has stressed that Loro Park Group has always followed all steps demanded by the various administrations “100%” and that they are right now continuing to work on resolving this “difficult situation in which the previous government of San Bartolomé has put us”. The final project, he says, will in the end total around €120 million, create 600 jobs and be a significant tourist attraction for the Playa del Inglés & Maspalomas area.
His son, and vice president of the Loro Parque group, Christoph Kiessling, has said that since 2012 they have already invested “around €20 million” in this project, from back when the search for the site and preparation of the first plans for the park began. “We have always envisioned that the construction of the park could be done within two years, although it could extend to up to two and a half years,” he added.