Ángel Domínguez Ojeda is Yaiza’s councillor for Tourism and Social Services, as well as Mayor Oscar Noda’s first lieutenant. Born in Venezuela, he has spent more than 16 years in politics in the southern municipality.
The first question we all want to know the answer to is when tourism will return. Obviously, that is out of your hands, but are you hearing any whispers?
Nothing is clear yet, and things keep changing. Germany opened up travel to the Balearics for a while, but is closing it down again now. The UK has said May 17th, but then we hear talk of extending that to July. We’re hoping that the vaccination programme will continue advancing, but in conversations I’ve had with local hotel owners and managers, they’re not very optimistic for the summer season.
Is the tourist sector taking advantage of the lack of activity at all?
Many hotels are renovating their premises, and we at the Ayuntamiento are also undertaking projects to improve the resort, such as the new Parque Atlántico, which is being built between Avenida Canarias and Avenida del Faro de Pechiguera. We’re improving access to Playa Dorada. Then, of course, there’s the harbour extension.
When will that be finished?
The latest projected date is 2022, but the rate of construction means that it looks as though it will be ready earlier than that.
And, just to remind us, what is the purpose of the extension?
Firstly, to improve the safety of the harbour area, separating the large ferries from smaller leisure craft. There was an accident a few years ago and we don’t want to repeat that. Then there’s increasing the connectivity of Playa Blanca with Fuerteventura. That works for tourism as well as commerce, and we like the idea of Fuerteventura tourists taking trips to our tourist centres. There’ll also be the possibility for smaller “boutique” cruisers to moor at Playa Blanca. This would be an attempt to complement what Arrecife has to offer, rather than going into competition with it.
Will there ever be a bridge between the islands?
I sincerely don’t think so. Where on earth would you drive onto it? At Papagayo? Imagine the environmental impact.
As Social Services councillor, can you comment on how Yaiza has weathered the economic impact of the Covid pandemic?
It’s been very tough. The amount of unemployment has doubled, and we’re seeing workers being moved from ERTE (furlough) schemes to redundancy. There’s less money coming in all over, and much more demand on social services.
As a result, we’ve had to increase the budget for the social services department by four times as much.
What else can the Ayuntamiento do?
Well, public works will provide employment, but we’ve also been working to make things easier for residents, such as making processes digitally available online.
With just 58 cases and no Covid deaths to date, Yaiza seems to have escaped the worst of the Covid figures we’ve seen in other municipalities. Is there any reason for that?
I think people have understood the messages and behaved well. We’ve seen a lot of solidarity and support here, and many volunteers have been helping out, too.
Apart from the harbour extension, what other projects are in the pipeline?
There’s the Parque Atlántico, as I’ve mentioned, and we’re also building a Sports Pavilion in Playa Blanca that will have three pools – a standard one, one for disabled users and a beginners’ pool. We’re also in the process of authorising more home construction, and we’re planning to extend the Health Centre, which has become a bit too small for the town.
Will there be a different focus on tourism after the pandemic is contained, do you think?
I think we’ll be moving away from mass tourism and the all-inclusive model, and looking for a more personalised experience. There will also be safety issues to take into account in relation to Covid.
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