Through your paper we have been following the developments of the seemingly antitourism policies of the Council of Majorca, e.g. proposed introduction of tourist tax, drive to take future tourism more up market. We'd like to draw attention to yet another sign of the trend which may be the Thin End of the Wedge in another sector of tourism.
We have kept our boat at Bonaire, Bay of Pollensa for six years now (prior to that we sailed in Scotland but were frequent visitors to Majorca) and visit it as often as free time allows. Last week we went into Cala Pi de Formentor for the first time this season only to be perplexed to find it filled with mooring buoys, the vast majority of which were not being used. We moored onto one to see what would happen and within minutes were appoached by two people in a RIB who gave us a brochure from their company Hisambla S.L. The brochure states as follows: During the summer season 2001 the Coast Department of the Balearic Islands (Ministry of the Environment) has started a project of controlled anchoring at the Bay of Formentor. The purpose of this project is to diminish the pernicious effect of boat anchors on the sea bed (Posidonia seaweed) and contribute to the well being of swimmers and occupants of other anchored boats.
This pioneering experience in Majorca implies the improvement of the landscape, preventing the overcrowding of anchored boats and increasing their security in bad weather conditions. Besides, additional services such as cleaning of the sea bed, bar service on board, etc will also be offered.
While this all sounds like commendable protection of the environment it is in fact complete nonsense. The sea bed at Cala Pi de Formentor is sand, anchors cannot harm sand coral, for example, would be a completely different story. We are sure Posidonia seaweed is alive and well all round the Balearics. The project contributes nothing to the well being of swimmers the bay is now covered with mooring buoys. There cannot be occupants of other anchored boats because anchoring is now prohibited except quite far out in the bay where there is very little shelter.
It cannot prevent the overcrowding of anchored boats any better than the normal situation would. There is only so much space that can exist between anchored boats, less than that and the boats start to bump together in which situation boat owners must take immediate action and clear out or move off and reanchor. Nor does it increase security in bad weather conditions. As for the additional services yes, well, they come at a price. Soft drinks 500 pts, Cruz Campo cerveza 500 pts, Chivas whisky 6'000 pts, Moet & Chandon champagne 9'000pts. For any other choices 24 hours notice must be given. The mooring itself costs 3'500 pts for 24 hours. When we said we were only in the bay for an hour's swim the Hisambla employee offered to reduce it to 1'800 pts. Needless to say, we said, no, thanks and left.
If everyone does likewise the project won't last very long. If people start to pay for this extortionate scheme it may not be long before all the best bays and calas in the Balearics are sewn up like this. If the latter way prevails we'll be moving on east in the Mediterranean, regretfully but inevitably. Not driven by mythical Scottish meaness but by an urge to partake of an enlightened society and one where big business and the government don't work hand in glove spreading false environmental messages while milking visitors of their hard earned cash.
By the way, this development in Cala Pi de Formentor doesn't just affect tourists. We know for a fact that it is used regularly by lots of local boats of all types, all out for a few hours picnic and swim. They won't be going there any more in the forseeable future which will mean more crowding into smaller calas. It is a shame that one of the biggest and most beautiful calas is being closed to so many people by this project. Two last questions: What is an up market tourist? Is the Majorcan Council only interested in the Claudia Schiffers and Michael Douglases of this world?
I thought you might be interested in the following, on the lines of you survived the coach strike, now stand by for the ripoff. I have lived here for about 15 years, and do not often do the tourist bit, but today we were at a Port on the East Coast and decided to stop for a refreshment on the terrace of a Bar/Cafeteria. By chance we had chosen a bar where an old acquaintance happened to be working as a waiter; we went through the usual Mucho tiempo, Long time no see, etc.
Whilst enjoying our drinks. I was aware, but did not pay a lot of attention to, comments from the British group (two couples) behind me who were using terms such as extortionate.
We finished our drinks and asked our waiter friend for the bill. I have told them to change it he told us, it was 2300 Ptas, but now just 975. What did we have? one medium caña beer, one small glass natural orange juice, one glass of wine,and a packet of crisps. 2300Ptas!!!!!!! Probably you will have the same reaction as me, basically, how hard do you have to try to get rid of the tourists before they get the message?
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