Spain’s Minister for Tourism has reassured holidaymakers headed for La Palma that the island is safe despite the ongoing volcanic eruption.
Reyes Maroto this morning said the government wanted to ease the minds of tourists already on the island, as well as those who were planning on travelling there, by insisting that it is safe.
Her comments come just 24 hours after the Cumbre Vieja volcano began spraying lava into the air with plumes of ash filling the sky.
She told a local radio station, Canal Sur: “The most important thing right now is reassuring tourists who have been affected, and also those who may be travelling to the island today or during the course of the week.
“We’re providing information so that tourists can travel to the island and witness something undoubtedly unprecedented for themselves.
“That information will let tourists know that the island is open and also whether their hotel has been affected so they can stay elsewhere and enjoy their holidays.”
The minister went on to say that tourists could view the eruption “as an attraction” if they wanted to “enjoy what nature has brought to La Palma.”
Maroto said tourists could contact the country’s embassies for “all the necessary information so that the island can become an attraction for those tourists who want to see this wonderful natural spectacle in a prudent manner because what we are worried about right now is the safety of citizens and tourists.”
Following her statement, there were many who jumped to criticise the message, after thousands were evacuated from their villages, and many have lost their homes.
According to authorities, there have not been any injuries so far but around 130 homes have been destroyed since the eruption.
Among those slamming comments made about ‘volcano tourism’ were some of Maroto’s political opponents.
Agustín Almodóbar, the tourism spokesperson for the conservative People’s party took to social media and said: “Minister, this is totally inappropriate.
“There are people who are losing their homes.”
Teodoro García Egea, secretary-general of the People’s party then wrote: “Can someone confirm that the minister said this while hundreds of people are losing everything they have?”
As the backlash continued to roll in, Maroto came out to clarify her remarks and said: “Today we stand with the victims and those affected, and we’re thinking about how best to get back to that normality that nature’s changed.
“In the future, we’ll think about how we can once again make the beautiful island of La Palma into a tourist area.”Internet Explorer Channel Network