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Ana Mula, the Mayor of Fuengirola

Ana Mula: For years we have been investing in the integration of our pets in the life of the city

Ana Mula: For years we have been investing in the integration of our pets in the life of the city

Interview with the Mayor of Fuengirola in Spain

Ana Mula (1965, Larache) has a degree in Law from the University of Malaga. She has been holding offices in the Fuengirola administration since 1989, progressively occupying councillor positions, such as Finances, Urbanism, Public Works and Beaches. She has been a mayor of the municipality since 2014.

Dear Mayor, how would you describe Fuengirola in your own words?

I always say that Fuengirola is the best city in the world. Without being a large city in size, we have all the services, shops, means of transport and leisure activities that anyone needs to lead a good life. The level of quality of living is, thanks to the involvement of all our neighbours, excellent.

As an example, the Spanish Network for Sustainable Development has placed our city as one of those with the highest indicators related to health and well-being in our entire country. And they also value it outside our national borders, since we are a reference tourist destination and a second residence for many citizens from other European countries, such as Finland, the United Kingdom or Sweden, among others.

Tourism is undoubtedly an industry of great importance for your municipality. What has been the effect of the Covid pandemic on this aspect during the past year?

Obviously, it has affected us in a significant way. Nobody is aware that Fuengirola is a city whose inhabitants live, directly or indirectly, from the tourist industry. Practically, all our hotels are closed, restaurants and shops are suffering greatly from the limitations that preventive measures are imposing to contain the advance of the coronavirus. At the City Council, we are making a great effort to ease tax burdens.

For example, we have eliminated the collection of the public road occupancy rate to all businesses that make use of them, and we have reduced by 50% the main municipal tax for hotels, which are one of the great generators of employment in our city.

Are there any initiatives or projects that are under consideration to reviving tourism in the coming season?

At the City Council we are working on two axes: one fundamental and a priority, which has to do with serving all the people and economic sectors of the city that are suffering the most from the terrible health crisis, but at the same time, we are focused on a second strategic axis for the future that will make us move forward, while we respond to those who need it most, in the basic projects for the development of Fuengirola.

In other words, we continue to promote actions that allow us to be prepared to continue leading the tourism industry as soon as the situation allows it. In this regard, we are making great strides in remodelling the city's marina. The new port will be the main pole of tourist attraction and employment generator on the Costa del Sol.

An initiative that also draws attention is the promotion of the destination as 'Pet-friendly'. How do you see the development of this tourist trend as an aspect that can help to highlight Fuengirola among other coastal cities?

Fuengirola is a friendly, hospitable and animal-friendly city. It is not something that was born spontaneously. For years we have been investing in the integration of our pets in the life of the city, building up to seven dog parks, having a special beach for them, adapting our transport ordinances so that they can travel with their owners on the urban bus, or by taxi and, now, with the development of a 'pet-friendly' guide that, in addition to detailing all these services, includes hotel businesses and businesses of all kinds that accept pets.

Therefore, we are already a well-known and consolidated ‘pet-friendly’ destination. Anyone who comes to Fuengirola to spend their holidays knows that their pet is welcome, too, and that it will have a great time.

Fuengirola has a fairly multinational population. What has been the effect of Brexit so far for your municipality?

We have not gone into depth to assess and analyze this issue. But, for now, we have noticed a significant increase in applications for registration in our municipality by British citizens. But it is an issue that is still ongoing and on which we cannot have an exact assessment.

Do you have any advice or experience to share for your peers - other European mayors who run towns and cities with highly integrated tourism economies?

I send them a message of encouragement and hope. We are lucky to be developing precious work at the service of our cities and at an extremely difficult time. I would modestly advise them to give priority to the urgent needs of their neighbours. That they are together with them, together with their merchants and businessmen and that they respond to the many needs that they are going to raise, but do not forget that, I hope that sooner rather than later, we will get out of this horrible situation, and by then, we must be ready.

Thank you!

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