Julio Baeza recognizes that it is being a very complex stage because although Santa Pola be a tourist municipality promotion of the town cannot always be prioritized, and even less in the middle of a pandemic. Even so, Julio Baeza believes that Santa Pola shines brighter now even though infrastructure is lacking.
What did you want to do in Santa Pola when you started as a Tourism Councilor?
We started with great desire to reactivate the tourist theme. The municipality had been understood as a destination for rest and families came. I wanted to turn it around as there is no nightlife offer due to previous complaints and it is a saturated area. We had the idea of creating festivals, re-promoting sporting events such as the half marathon, swimming. The first year we succeeded, with record numbers, we tried to do actions for the youth and the pandemic arrived that has slowed us down a bit. We decided to change the strategy.
Santa Pola has 70% of the natural protected territory. With the covid it was very good to be outdoors and sports. We started several campaigns such as ‘Santa Pola awaits you’ so that people would come to enjoy according to what the restrictions allowed, such as doing sports, gastronomy, culture. They were activities that could continue to be done. The campaigns went very well.
Lack of investment in infrastructure. The Paseo Adolfo Suárez gave a lot of life and you have to do the same until Santa Pola del Este »
Have you detected a new audience that comes now and did not do so before because of proximity?
Yes we have noticed. During the months of the pandemic, you went up to the Santa Pola mountains and there was no room for a pin, the promenade on weekends, until they prohibited people from coming from outside due to restrictions, was also full, so it has worked. And four years ago you saw that the town was a little dead and now it is full. I think the campaigns have served a lot.
At the infrastructure level there is a perception of visitors that Santa Pola is like thirty years ago. Do you share the opinion?
We have caught a bad time. When we entered we had the adjustment plan and a terrible economic deficit. It is necessary to invest in infrastructure. The Paseo de Adolfo Suárez gave a lot of life and it is necessary to do the same, even if it is step by step from the City Hall to Santa Pola del Este. It is important to undertake a performance as soon as possible as well as in the center.
What plans are there?
They are considering how to strengthen it but it is very difficult due to the economic situation and the money that has been invested in social services that cannot be invested in infrastructure.
And on a sporting level …
We are looking at the way of grants to create more infrastructure. In Gran Alacant we need a soccer field and we are evaluating how to do it. More paddle tennis courts are needed and renovating, surely it will be done but we continue with the 2018 budget.
How does not having approved accounts affect?
It is a handicap, we are struggling a lot but we have staff shortages and it is difficult to get out. I want to think that when they are approved they will invest in infrastructure. Now there are projects that go for grants from the Provincial Council and that the mayor has already announced how to rehabilitate the castle wall so that it was passable. There is also the reform of the sports center or making a shade in the Glorieta.
With the pandemic we changed our strategy to promote visits to natural environments and promote sport »
Will they have fit in this next budget?
In theory it is short term and should be seen before the end of this term, if not something wrong we have done. In the case of the sports center, we are already going to hire the company that is going to carry out the project. I know that they are also with the sheet of the garbage and the luminary, that the mayor announced that she wanted to do something different that was going to amaze tourists.
We started another summer with the Peña Grande beach bar abandoned on the promenade …
From what little I know, the problem came when the change was made with the specifications of the beach bars, which in my opinion was not good because it has many impediments. They do not leave music and if there is no music in a beach bar …
Santa Pola is within the Segittur program dependent on the Ministry, how does it benefit?
We are as an intelligent service, at the highest level, and that contributes to qualify for aid and subsidies.
What performances can be covered?
Many, now they have taken out of a sustainability plan, there are investments for walkway infrastructures, sewerage, there are many millions of euros that are going to be offered to municipalities.
On the eternal vindication of fish stalls, will there be a transformation soon?
As we do not depend on the City Council, we are subject to what the Ministry indicates. We cannot reach out, it is still blocked and we have fought it but there is no progress.
If people were registered and received city status, we would have more income and provide more service »
Are water sports having a good time in Santa Pola?
The problem that we have always had in Santa Pola is that we lived with our backs to the sea, it was not given much prominence. In collaboration with centers such as the nautical club, campaigns are being carried out to promote nautical sports. Windsurfing, sailing and rowing championships have been held. There is also paddle surfing with other schools and we are helping them to promote it because it is a treasure for Santa Pola. Olympic athletes and sailors are coming to train here, and that has a lot of merit because they are people with high purchasing power and they come all year round because they say that the conditions in Santa Pola are found in few places.
How to avoid that a part of the buildings are relegated to second residence?
For that we have to provide services throughout the year, but the doctor and hospitals do not depend on us and the problem is that we go from 30,000 to more than 200,000 inhabitants in summer and the services are the same. Likewise, you can launch a campaign for people to register because I know that there are about 10,000 more living regularly outside the census. If people were registered and we received a category of city, we would have more income and we would provide more services.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.