In the past year over 140 cases of highway robberies were reported to the consulate. British tourists traveling in hire cars or cars with British registration plates are being singled out for robbery. The report points out that the most dangerous stretch of road for Brits to drive on is the Ap7 stretch of motorway in the North East on the French border and o roads around Alicante in the South.
Such scams have always existed in Spain but the rise comes as the nation struggles with its economic troubles and more people become desperate to find a source of income. Organised gangs have taken advantage of the situation, appearing to step up their game over the past few months.
A popular ruse employed at motorway service stations involves surreptitiously puncturing a tyre and then offering to help the driver while an accomplice steals valuables from the vehicle. Another scam includes making loud bangs when a tourist’s car is in transit causing the driver to pull over on to the hard shoulder. A fellow road user quickly pulls up offering assistance while a gang member steals from the victim’s car.
In the popular tourist destination of Majorca gangs operate mostly at Palma airport and large motorway supermarkets. They target wealthy looking holidaymakers who carry branded luxury luggage and computer bags. The tourists are tailed and those who stop at supermarkets off the motorway to stock up their larders are often robbed.
Thanks to the Spanish government imposing harsh tax measures on airports and airliners there are sure to be less much needed foreign visitors. Airline Ryan air has already declared that it is cutting services in response to the tax hikes. The airline says that the hikes have made the routes un-viable for them adding that they previously carried over 2.3million people a year on the route. Ryan air estimates that around 2,000 jobs in the tourism sector will be lost in Madrid and Barcelona by the reduction.
As the Spanish government seeks new ways to rake in the cash to sort out its debt problems we can expect to see costs rising in many aspects of Spanish life. The airport tax hikes are sure to have a negative impact on the nation’s tourism sector and that will undoubtedly cause hardship for the already struggling tourism industry.
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