Living in Majorca over the last 12 months we've grown accustomed to reports of doom and gloom in the tourist industry. But while the Balearics face a shortfall of about one million tourists this year, the rest of the country is booming. The mostly unlikely places, which I must admit I would find trouble pinpointing on the map, are enjoying amazing levels of growth and rural Spain is opening up. By the end of this year around 40 million Britons will have visited Spain, which is roughly the population of the country, the Canary Islands and the Balearics included. We have all heard how cheap the mainland is and while I wouldn't exchange Majorca for Alicante or Jerez it appears that many people from the UK are now abandoning other traditional areas and heading down further south, and transforming what was once a rather undeveloped part of the country. Leading the charge are the no frills airlines which are rapidly establishing a network of flights to some of the most unlikely parts of the country. While obviously plenty of praise must go to the tour firms, the “no frills brigade” have done Spain a real favour. It must be said that the low cost carriers have revolutionised the main tourist resorts as well, but it is probably their attention to the lesser known parts of the country which is making such a difference. The Balearics can learn little from this revolution as it is a completely different market. However, future local tourist strategies must take into account the “no frills” factor. Praise for these carriers from the government wouldn't go amiss.

Jason Moore

Half-kept promise

In the House of Commons last April Tony Blair promised to get Britain's then escalating street crime ”under control” within six months.
Time's up.
Has his promise been kept? It all depends on where you live.
Figures released by the Home Office show that across the country a reduction in reported street crime of 16 per cent has been achieved but that the benefit has not been felt everywhere.

The police in London, the West Midlands and Lancashire, with reductions of 17, 16 and 11 per cent respectively, have done well but in Merseyside, South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire the number of muggings, robberies and bag snatching have increased over the figures for last year.

Forces in Greater Manchester, Thames Valley and Avon and Somerset reported a standstill or slight improvement.
It was surprising that the Leader of the Opposition did not raise this subject at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday because the results, while welcome as far as they go, are distinctly patchy.

There are also questions to be asked about the extent of the diversion of resources from other priorities that was necessary in order to get the results achieved and whether the effort against street crime is to be continued at its present level.

It would have been difficult for Mr Blair, despite his renowned escapologists's agility at Question Time, to claim that the overall results were such as to enable him to say that he had kept his promise to bring street crime ”under control”.



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