Waiting for permission

Local minister for tourism, Celesti Alomar, has visited the Son Bunyola estate in Banyalbufar where Sir Richard Branson wants to build a five star hotel. Branson bought the estate almost six years ago but he has been denied the necessary planning permission to go ahead with the plan to transform Son Bunyola into one of the most luxurious hotels in the Mediterranean. Presently, there are two luxury villas on the estate, where Sir Richard and his family and the Duchess of York, stayed earlier this summer. Celesti Alomar has been quoted as saying that he would like to see the tourist industry move upmarket. But while the local minister is busy outlining his plans for 5-star tourism, Son Bunyola, is denied the necessary permits. Even Sir Richard Branson appears to be resigned to the fact that the hotel will never happen. He told the Bulletin recently that if planning permission was not forthcoming then he will have no option but to transform the Son Bunyola manor-house into a private home. Here we have a classic example of a very short-sighted policy of the local authorities. On one hand they call for luxury tourism but on the other they deny a businessman the opportunity to put the necessary tools into place to cater for this type of tourism. Branson's Hotel La Residencia has transformed Deya, and Son Bunyola could do the same for Banyalbufar. Perhaps, Alomar's visit will mean that the project can be put back on track again. It would be a great shame for Majorca and its tourist industry if these projects never came about just because of a few building regulations.

Jason Moore

Japan's chance to change

It is not surprising that the Liberal Democratic Party won a clear majority in Japan's upper house of parliament in the weekend elections - the Party, a broad coalition of factions owing allegiance to prominent individuals, has held power for long periods in the past. However, the enthusiasm shown by the Japanese people for the LDP's new leader and prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, is a real surprise. With his long hair and film star looks he is as far removed as it is possible to imagine from the identikit LDP leaders of the past, all apparently from the same political and physical mould. Mr Koizumi now has to show whether the change symbolised by his successful leadership of the Party can be extended to the radical change needed in the Japanese economy and, indeed, in the whole way in which Japanese society is managed. Since he became prime minister in April Mr Koizumi has warned his party and the country of the enormous task facing them if Japan is to regain the industrial and economic dynamism that it showed twenty-five years ago but lost in the 1990s. The electorate has responded by giving him a working majority in both houses of parliament even though he has repeatedly said that the necessary restructuring will inevitably lead to unemployment and some hardship in the short term. The question remaining is whether the prime minister has the strength to push through reform against the reluctance, even opposition, of entrenched forces of conservatism in his own party.



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