The consequences of the environmental deterioration of the Mar Menor in economic activities include the displacement of tourists to other coastal areas, the reduction in the value of homes and the increase in business failure, according to a thesis from the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT).
For the thesis, carried out by Dr. Genoveva Aparicio, satellite images have been used in order to correlate chlorophyll levels with the evolution of tourism and the results of companies, from various sectors, located in the surroundings of the salty lagoon, according to UPCT sources have reported in a statement.
“The results show that when water pollution worsens, coastal tourists are willing to move to other destinations,” explained Aparicio.
“Once a certain level of environmental contamination is exceeded, tourists perceive its negative effect and this negatively influences their expectations,” explained the researcher, attached to the doctoral program in Economic, Business and Legal Sciences of the Polytechnic of Cartagena.
The thesis has also found a correlation between pollution and business failure in different productive activities, not only those related to tourist activities.
The director of the research, Mari Luz Maté, explained that improving the quality of seawater has “a positive and significant impact on the probability of survival of companies in most of the sectors examined”. In this way, “environmental pollution has more impact on the failure of companies than some of their characteristics, such as their age or the volume of assets”, she added.
According to the study, companies in the agricultural sector have a greater probability of business failure if pollution levels are higher and the environmental factor also plays a relevant role in the survival of construction companies.
“In the case of companies in the tourism and real estate services sector, we found that pollution does not have a significant effect. However, the distance to the beach is a relevant factor in this sector, increasing the probability of bankruptcy of companies located near to the beach, which may be an indirect indicator of the relationship with environmental deterioration”, detailed the researchers.
Compared to the south of the Alicante coast, the prices of homes in the Mar Menor show 45 percent less revaluation in the period 2015-2021, according to a Bank of Spain report from autumn 2021 cited in the thesis.
In monetary terms, the houses in the Mar Menor would cost up to 500 euro less per square metre than those in the south of Alicante. The global quantification of this environmental deterioration and property value rises to 4,1 billion euro.
It should be pointed out that, although the process is slow, the environment of the Mar Menor has started to improve recently.