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19th December
At last there may be some good news for tourism on the island. From 1st November 2009, the current two bands for air passenger duty will instead be split into four new distant-dependent bands. Economy passengers travelling over 6,000 miles will pay £55 in air passenger duty instead of the current £40, rising to £85 in 2010. As Fuerteventura is under 2,000 miles from the UK, it will be classed in the lowest band of duty and the price will only increase by £1 in 2009 and another £1 in 2010.

Despite the chilly weather many people attended the opening ceremony of the giant nativity scene in the capital of Fuerteventura. The mayor of Puerto del Rosario, Marcial Morales, stressed in his opening speech, "the consensus of the islands associations, businesses and citizens in general, that the giant nativity scene had to be maintained despite the cost." Therefore Fuerteventura still has the largest nativity scene in Canary Isles, despite earlier reports that it would not take place this year. The giant houses, 50 buildings of various styles and shapes, have around a hundred different moving parts such as water mills, canals, creeks. The decorative elements have been made using paper mache, cork, fabric and natural materials, all under the artistic direction of the sculptor Majorero Miguel Cubas. In addition, the scene of Bethlehem has more than 50 live animals and various crops. Open from 10am to 10pm in the evening, you can visit the nativity scene and be entertained with Christmas carols.

The Ministry of Sports has completed the network of Multi Stadiums with the collaboration of all the municipalities of the island, who have made the sites available and will carry out any maintenance work. The president of the Cabildo, Mario Cabrera, accompanied by Edilia Perez, the mayor of Puerto del Rosario, Marcial Morales, and the councillor for Sport, Beatriz Fajardo, visited the facilities of the sport stadium located in the area of El Charco in Puerto del Rosario. The project cost around 400,000 euros, which has helped install ten stadiums in Morro Jable, La Lajita, Betancuria, Tarajalejo, Great Tarajal, Antigua, Puerto del Rosario, Caldereta and Corralejo . The facilities are designed for the use of residents in each area and their objective is to promote sport. The design has been made so that several sports, on artificial turf, such as indoor football, basketball, volleyball or tennis can be played in one place.

The Council of Environment in the Town hall of Fuerteventura, has a project for environmental recovery and to fight against erosion in Cofete (Pájara). The objective is to reclaim traditional structures in the majorero fields that were constructed at the time as a means to fight against erosion, to accumulate water and fertilize the soil, but over the years, because of the abandonment of the farming sector in the area there has been no upkeep, allowing the effects of erosion to multiply. The developed work has concentrated in the areas next to the town of Cofete, with the repairing of pre-existing stone walls, that have become washed away by the waters from the hills. They are not only maintaining the existing ditches and stone walls but rebuilding what had been demolished. The idea is to recover ways that historically have always been used in rural Fuerteventura as a means of fighting erosion i.e. planting crops, ditches, timber and walls, etc.

We think the weather in Fuerteventura has been iffy, but on Monday a flight from here was diverted from Tenerife North to Reina Sofia in the south because of bad weather conditions i.e. fog and rain.

A person arrested for armed robbery on Saturday, was released by judges on Tuesday. A shop, in El Charco, was entered near closing time and held up, the robber seized about €500 from the till, then tried to lock the doors so he could loot the vending machines. However, the shop person got rid of him by saying he was being recorded by cctv. Now the person in charge of the premises worries about having to encounter the thief on the street. Residents of the area are concerned about going out in the dark as they claim there are very few lights, and they come on after it is dark.

Corralejo has been given a small face lift, quite a few of the paths have been levelled out and some of the holes along the cobbled street filled in.

 

12th December
The Majorero dog or Bardina, as they are commonly known, has been historically linked with goat herding. It is a breed that has been preserved with a high degree of genetic purity and maintains a natural gentleness that distinguishes it from other dog breeds. The bardina's skills will be expanded in the near future and they will be trained to work as guide dogs for blind people. The first evaluation of the ONCE Foundation Dog Guide to learn about the insular attitudes of this race for these duties has been highly positive. The Cabildo through its Ministry of Social Affairs, will shortly sign an agreement which will transfer some of their best puppies to the Foundation, ONCE, and then to their training center in Madrid, where they will be integrated into a process of socialization in the family and training. The role of the bardina will be as an assistant to help the mobility of the blind or severely visually impaired. The dog's natural intelligence gives it an enormous capacity for learning.

A man died as a result of a pedestrian accident in the town of Tuineje, according to sources from the Coordinating Center for Emergency and Security (CECOES). The deceased was a man aged 50 who was treated by the staff of the Emergency Department Canario (SUC) at the site of the incident and was later transferred by ambulance to the advanced life support General Hospital in Fuerteventura where he died.

The Council of Tourism is to embellish accesses to beaches in the section of Great Tarajal-Playitas. The works consist of a paved track or footpath for use of bicycles and pedestrians, parallel to the plan of highway FV-512. Also, landscaped areas for rest and relaxation will be built by the right side of this highway.

The Health Council of the Canary Islands have decided to extend and remodel the Health Center of Morro Jable in Fuerteventura. When finished the center will have increased its size by 690 square meters. The new center will have a reception, administration and archives, 16 doctors, with 4 consultants for Paediatrics and Paediatric Infirmary; Bucodental attention, Odontolgy and a Dental Hygienist; and a Gynaecologist. This one will also consult on motherhood and have a room for the preparation for childbirth with corresponding waiting rooms and toilets.

WEIRD
"I'm really sorry...I thought he was just tired" said Lynn Stewart who was arrested in West Melbourne and charged with stealing items from a 56 year old unconscious man who in fact had just suffered a fatal heart attack during sex with Stewart. She blamed her larceny on a cocaine binge that impaired her judgment such that she had sex with 20 men that weekend. She was not charged with prostitution as she just likes sex, said a police spokesman.

Shopper Amber Dibartolomeo, was arrested in a Wal-Mart store charged with selling crack cocaine inside the store. Police said they found over $2,000 in cash on her, along with a can of pepper spray, and 27 grams of cocaine, one in her bra and 26 in her vagina.

Michael Smith explained that he was passing a church, spotted a drum set through a window, and could not restrain himself from trying it out. Officers found Smith in a spirited solo after the church's alarm system went off.

A 78 year old woman misread signs at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, and placed herself on a baggage belt, which led to a chute, but she was only slightly injured and did not miss her flight.
 

 

10th December
Ryanair have confirmed that they are stopping all routes to and from Fuerteventura as from the 31st January. People who have tickets for past this date are being contacted by email by Ryanair and are being offered refunds. The official press release says:

Ryanair, Europe’s largest low fares airline, today (10th Dec) confirmed that it will close all of its routes to/from Fuerteventura from 31st January after local tourism group AIE failed to honor the commercial agreement it entered into with Ryanair to promote Fuerteventura as a tourist destination.
Since Ryanair began flying to Fuerteventura in 2006 annual passenger numbers have increased over one hundred fold from just 2,000 to over 250,000. However, because of the AIE’s breach of its agreement with Ryanair one of its Dublin flights to Fuerteventura was cancelled from 6th November and Ryanair has now confirmed the closure of 23 weekly services on nine international routes to/from Fuerteventura from 31st January. This follows extensive efforts by Ryanair to encourage the AIE to honor the agreement they had signed.
Ryanair will close all services to/from Fuerteventura including Birmingham (3 per week), Bremen (2pw), Dublin (2pw), Dusseldorf (Weeze) (4pw), East Midlands (3pw), Frankfurt (2pw), Liverpool (3pw), London (3pw) and Shannon (1pw) from 31st January.
Ryanair confirmed legal action, for breach of the agreement, will continue against AIE and its individual members.
Speaking today, Ryanair’s Michael Cawley, said:
“This is a very black day for Fuerteventura and one which will have a severe impact on tourism and the livelihoods of its islanders. Ryanair’s lowest fares and no fuel surcharge have delivered huge tourism revenues and over 250,000 annual passengers will now be lost to/from Fuerteventura. At a time when Spanish tourism numbers are falling Ryanair’s passenger traffic continues to grow as our fares continue to fall. However, the AIE has now taken a huge gamble with the livelihoods of the local tourism industry by blatantly reneging on its contractual commitments and losing Ryanair’s 23 weekly services to the island.
“Ryanair previously called on the AIE to comply with its contractual agreements and provided them with 30 days notice to remedy their contract breach, this notice period has now lapsed with no action having been taken to maintain Ryanair’s presence in Fuerteventura. Therefore, we are faced with no choice but to end all Ryanair flights to Fuerteventura from 31st January”

At a meeting yesterday with local business people in Corralejo the Councillor for Tourism, Agueda Montelongo Gonzalez said that the airline had been offered 80% of the outstanding funds. She said that discussions were taking place with other airlines in order to replace the routes. Her ideas for promoting tourism for the island include a leaflet of restaurants who are offering menus del dia for 3e, as on the mainland, a competition with the London School of Marketing and promotion of the island to the Polish. Needless to say none of the audience were impressed. She also said that there was nothing that the Cabildo could do about restricting all inclusive holidays but there were asking AENA to lower landing fees, which are currently the highest of all the islands.

In her opinion, Fuerteventura's tourism is growing whilst it is dropping in all the other islands. Perhaps she should be looking at the official figures released by Turismo de Canarias: See for yourself whether she is right:














All this makes me wonder just what has to happen to make this island wake up and see that very few people can make a living from goat's cheese and aloe vera!

6th December
The main tourist companies of Fuerteventura have decided to re-open negotiations with Ryanair to avoid the announced exit from the island by this low cost company. However, as the deadline of 6th December that Ryanair stipulated for the AIE to fulfil their conditions has passed, it is likely that this move is too little too late. Ryanair has the reputation of being a no nonsense airline and they also seem to do business this way too. Despite local pressure on the AIE they have not been proactive in trying to resolve the situation. This week the local business association in Caleta printed this message in a local newspaper this week.
                               It is not only AECA that has had enough!
It is not because of the crisis but because of the general blasé attitude that next year we are going to lose more than 250 000 tourists, more than 200 milliones of euro and an incalculable quantity of jobs. For this reason we ask the unconditional support of all the island (institutions, associations, businessmen, residents and banks).
If we do not change the attitude the island will not recover recover so easily from this time of deep crisis. The aim is to bring the tourism to Fuerteventura and without the arrival of airplanes this will be impossible.

Unfortunately Ryanair's success also may have contributed to their downfall. This year so far we had just over 1 million tourists to the island, an increase of 0.3% from last year. If you remove the contribution that Ryanair say they are making, around 200,000 passengers, then Fuerteventura is showing a significant decrease, nearly 20%, in tourism. This pattern is not reflected in the other Canary Islands so cannot be attributed to the credit crisis. More likely is the complacent attitude by the people in charge of promoting the island, one of Ryanair's main complaints.

There is a meeting on Tuesday 9th December at the old Gestion Hormiga offices on the road from the bus station to Hiperdino's. Ryanair a member of the Ayuntamiento involved in tourism will inform people what is happening with Ryanair, so come along at 6pm to get your point of view across.

The new health center in Puerto del Rosario will open its doors nearly a year late. Despite the fact that the works were completed last May and is already fully equipped, the delay in the installation of the telephone exchange is hindering the opening. The Canary Islands Health Service (SCS) has already concluded that the new Primary Care facilities will not be operational until at least the first quarter of 2009. It was supposed to be opened last April, the months have passed and the center continues closed, waiting for the completion of the administrative burden for the public tender for the telephone switchboard. Everything indicates that it will continue to be inoperative for several months. The new health facility has been built on a plot of 3487 square meters and has required an investment of 4.4 billion euros.

Started in 1992 as the project of a group of parents of people with varying types and degrees of disability, Adisfuer, is now a non-profit organization dedicated to the social-integration, with several projects of Collaboration in progress and prospects for further growth. The Association of Disabled Fuerteventura was launched as an initiative to respond to the lack of resources that existed on the island to help people with disabilities. The start was managed through donations and kiosks that the partners themselves assembled at fairs and festivals. Adisfuer already has a chicken farm in operation, located in a facility donated by the Town Council of Fuerteventura in the Angel Casillas. The farm began operating in borrowed facilities and about 1,000 old hens that were to be slaughtered by its owner. It currently has about 15,000 animals, with the prospect of their ability to multiply in order to reach 100,000 and become one of the most important livestock farms in Fuerteventura. The expansion will also need six more employees and more production facilities. "When we started this activity so that the guys had a real job, with timetables and accountability. The big surprise was to discover that not only that the kids could do the job, but they responded perfectly in all aspects of their lives. The two guys who started that are still working with us, "said Maria de los Santos Rodriguez, director of Adisfuer. However, the activity of Adisfuer has been diversifying over the years. There are currently several squads of personnel with different types and degrees of disabilities, thanks to cooperation agreements are working on cleaning the cars of the Town of Fuerteventura, the Municipality of Puerto del Rosario and Water Consortium. Also in conjunction with the capital's City Hall, staff working on programs Adisfuer cleaning of streets, gardens, recreation areas and beaches. Adisfuer obtained the qualification as a Special Job Center in 1995 and since April 2008 also has the Declaration of Public Utility by the Ministry of the Interior, "which has been a push to work all these years and we are convinced that probably represents a turning point in our evolution and growth, "said De los Santos. The Declaration of Public Utility is especially important because it offers the possibility for NGOs to provide services to businesses and public entities, so as to enable them to comply with the requirements of job placement for people with disabilities. Adisfuer has also had a very prominent role at the opening of the Center for Teaching Therapeutics, seen as an educational center geared to the needs of disabled children.

About 200 school children from secondary schools across the island participated in the development of a giant red ribbon and the reading of the manifesto "For the dignity, solidarity and commitment to the fundamental rights of people with HIV / AIDS ", Which are conducted within the framework of activities organized for the International Day of the fight against HIV / AIDS, under the organization of various public institutions and collectives. Activities have been haappening since last week, including theater, film forum and workshop activities.

Consorcio Water Supply Fuerteventura (CAAF) has two new mobile desalination plants with a production capacity of 2,500 cubic meters each unit that will ensure the supply of drinking water in the island. The new water treatment plants are located in Puerto del Rosario and Gran Tarajal and its key features are its low energy consumption, with about a 50% savings in electricity compared to other teams, and their ability to be easily transferred to other locations in if necessary.

12 Spaniards and 1 Moroccan have been arrested in a series of raids in Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura. They have been described as one of the most active drug trafficking gangs operating in the Canary Isles. A total of 800kg of cannabis has been confiscated, 300kg in a lorry travelling from Fuertevenura to Las Palmas, the other 500kg was found during a search of a property on the outskirts of Pajara. The gang laundered part of the proceeds by investing in local businesses, such as restaurants, bars and buying property, while the rest was diverted to bank accounts in Morocco. 4 High powered motor boats used by the gang have also been confiscated and 16 bank accounts have been blocked. Embargos have been imposed on several chalets, apartments and garages, as well as 2 restaurants and a bar.

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