El Caminito del Rey is opening to the public again on April 22nd
The booking platform is to be launched in two weeks time
Mr Bendodo underlines the importance of the cooperation between all the institutions involved in the project, which should keep working together in order to consolidate this new and powerful tourism brand that belongs to the Province of Málaga
The County Council of Málaga is to invest €7m in new projects related to the path, such as two visitor centres and car parks.
El Caminito del Rey Path is going to be reopened on Friday, April 22nd, whereas on Monday, April 18th, the new booking platform is to be launched, said County Council President Elîas Bendodo this morning during an event celebrated in Ardales close to the path. On that occasion, it was assessed how the path has been run in its first year of existence, and the second phase of the project that involves works on the boardwalks and the surroundings, which start next month, was presented.
Mr Bendodo was in company of the Vice-president of the County Council, Francisco Salado, the Responsible for Environment and Territory Promotion, Marina Bravo, and other town representatives, such as Álora Mayor Josê Sánchez, Ardales Mayor Marîa del Mar González, Manuel Barón, the Mayor of Antequera, and the Mayor of Pizarra, Fêlix Lozano. There were also members of the socialist political party PSOE and the political party Ciudadanos.
The County Council President said that El Caminito del Rey is a new tourism brand in this country and that ‘we should make an effort to make its management and its future equal to the challenge, without being hasty, but yes determined.’ He also said that the Málaga County Council is working on this together with the Towns of Álora, Ardales, Valle de Abdalajîs and Antequera.
In order to show the importance of this tourism resource, Mr Bendodo emphasised that throughout the first year of its running, the path received 304,000 visitors, which is more than 262,458 of visitors who came to the Xacobea Route in 2015, which was people.
He pointed out some other data regarding the first year of the path as well, such as the fact that 200 media companies in 22 countries got interested in it and came to see it, or that the inland tourism in the province grew by 7.3% thanks to this and the Great Málaga Path.
The Mayors’ Assessment
Josê Sánchez, the Álora Mayor, mentioned how important it was that all administrative units, no matter what political party they belong to, work and take care of the image of El Caminito del Rey, being aware of the benefits this path generates for the surrounding area.
The Mayor of Ardales, Marîa del Mar González, expressed that the path was a kind of stimulus for the area, and that the second part of the project would serve to strengthen the economy and development of Guadalhorce, Guadalteba and Antequera.
Mr Barón, the Mayor of Antequera, gave out the data on the tourism during Easter and stressed the importance of El Caminito del Rey for it. This town was visited by 42% tourists more than at Easter in 2015; El Torcal got 60% visits more than the year before and the higher percentage than Doñana, and there was an increase in overnight stays by 10%.
The First-Year Assessment
A study that was carried out by the Costa del Sol Tourism and Panning on the first year of path’s running notes that 195,000 visitors came independently, and that 40,000 of them were tourists who stayed overnight in the area.
Most of visitors who come to El Caminito del Rey (62.6%) just spend a day in the area. One-third of them are from Málaga and 28.1% from other Andalusian towns.
On the other hand, 37.4% of visitors are tourists who come and stay overnight in the province. It is worth mentioning that six out of ten visitors were foreigners who came from France, Germany, the UK or Holland, which tells a lot about the popularity of the path abroad.
More than one-fourth of the tourists were from other regions in Spain, mostly from Madrid, Valencia and Murcia. Moreover, 25% of the visitors stayed in the surrounding towns, which helped their economic growth.
Tourism expenditure that includes all these tourists’ spending was €16m and the estimated generated economic impact was €40m. Its outcome were more than 230 new jobs. Mr Bendodo said: ‘This was the effect of the refurbishment of this exceptional beauty spot El Caminito del Rey by the County Council’.
The visitors gave the highest mark to the path (9.5 over 10), underlining some of its key points, such as the cleanliness of the path, the beauty of the nature around it, the customer service and the safety of the facilities.
The Second Phase of the Project
The Málaga County Council President presented the above data to reflect the real state of the spot, which is going to be managed in the same way as Alhambra in Granada. ‘We’ll be using the same successful management model and the same booking methods’, he explained.
When the path gets opened again, the joint venture between the companies Hermanos Campano and Bobastro 2000 are going to get in charge of its management, including the tickets sale, the maintenance and the security of the spot for next four years.
Mr Bendodo also clarified that the second part of the project is planned to be started in few months and that €7.2m will have been invested in it by 2019. The improvements on the road are to be paid with €5.6m from this budget. The main works from this second phase are going to start in June and might be finished until the end of the year.
The largest works are planned to be performed on the plot which is on the road between Ardales and the path, in front of the intersection which goes to El Chorro and Álora, where the tourist reception centre will be built. This wooden building is going to be 500 metres square (5381.96 sq. ft.), and will be placed on a natural elevation above the Count of Guadalhorce’s Reservoir in a way that perfectly fits in the environment.
Architect Luis Machuca, the Head of Architecture and Town Planning Department at the County Council and the creator of the reception centre project, described it as ‘a modern, contemporary and minimalist building.’ This building is going to have information and help desk, book shop, exhibition and conference room, and cafê bar and restaurant, too. Next to this building, a car park for round 200 private vehicles and for shuttle busses is going to be built and will connect the two entrance points to the path. A car park in the area of El Chorro and a tourist information office at El Chorro Train Station are going to be built as well.
Upgrading of the Tunnel
As for the improvements on the path, a tunnel in the Gaitanes Gorge area is going to be paved with wooden boards. This tunnel is going to allow the visitors who come to the zone to enjoy this most beautiful part of the trail as, occasionally, due to the weather conditions and the wind speed, the access to it is forbidden.
Thanks to the tunnel, the bridge, the new boardwalks and the arch can be admired, as well as the rest of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes beauty spot, from the viewpoints. Moreover, the waterfall on the old spillway at an altitude of 100m will be restored, using the new water piping system.
On the other hand, eight roads from the surrounding area will have been improved by 2019, and the access points to the path are going to be signposted again as required by the visitors. Furthermore, the road that goes through the area of El Chorro is going to be repaired.
New information signs have just been placed on the A-357 road from Málaga to Campillos. This is going to be done as well in the area of Antequera and Valle de Abdalajîs. Access roads from Ardales and Álora are going to be reinforced, and some works on the ways in El Chorro and those that improve terrain permeability from the Serranîa de Ronda and the Sierra de las Nieves are planned to be carried out, too.
Mr Bendodo pointed out: ‘I remind you that we have already invested €5.5m in the building of the path and the access roads improvements. From this year to 2019, €7.2m more will be invested in the ahead mentioned activities, which means that the County Council will have invested €12.7m by 2019 in this project. This is what this world-famous spot, which became one of the biggest tourist attraction and identifying mark of the Province of Málaga.’