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Almost every weekend, hundreds of tourists from cruise ships roam the centre of Malaga looking for shops to buy mementos and gifts but go back to their ships with most of their money still in their pockets.
The Madrid government has decided to put an end to such scenes – which happen all over Spain, not just Malaga – and the City Council will soon have to decide on the areas where shops can open on Sundays, if they so choose.
In the past, such proposals have met with fierce resistance from the Malaga Trade Federation (Fecoma), because of the unfair competition small shops would have from the big supermarkets and franchises.
Now the Secretary of State for Trade is preparing a legal reform which will oblige Malaga and other cities to identify the areas which are visited by millions of tourists where shops will have total freedom to open the hours and days they choose.
These cities include Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Bilbao and Granada – Madrid, Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife already have flexible opening times.
The obligation to allow free trade zones will apply to all towns with more than 200,000 inhabitants which are popular tourist destinations.
In Malaga province, Manilva, Benalmádena, Estepona, Fuengirola, Marbella, Mijas, Nerja, Rincón de la Victoria, Torremolinos and Torrox have been declared zones that receive large numbers of tourists where shops can choose their opening hours at certain times of the year, such as Easter Week, or during the summer.