TWO issues raised in last week's Bulletin particularly caught my attention. The first was the column of Frank Leavers, where he raised the question, of why, if more people are being recorded passing through Palma airport, are so many small businesses faring so badly.
He covered one reason, i.e. the all inclusive type of holidaymaker, who spends very little, if anything, outside their hotel, but there are two other substantial factors. One is the ever-increasing number of privately-owned second homes being offered/rented out to owners' friends, family, etc., and there are many thousands of these on the island. This type of visitor will not be looking for the big breakfast offered by every bar, but, with self-catering, prepare their own breakfast, probably make a baguette for lunchtime on the beach, and dine in a real restaurant in the evening.
Whilst we constantly hear of snack bars suffering trade loss, good restaurants remain constant, even improving their trade. I read recently that it was calculated that in all of Spain, approximately 11 percent of holidaying visitors stay in self-catering accommodation, and that was in official tourist registered locations, imagine how many others there are! The second point is that there are just too many of basically the same type of businesses chasing the available clientele. Snack bars are a prime example. Whenever a new building/block of apartments is built, the ground floor becomes commercial and more snack bars open up. Judging by the number of for sale, to rent or traspaso signs in Puerto Alcudia (where our estate agency is located), we estimate that between 20 and 25 percent are on the market, with or without a sign up.
The same cake is being divided up between more and more locals, so as the portion becomes less, some go to the wall, and the remaining ones struggle. The second issue was the exchange of letters published in respect of foreign residents right to vote in the Spanish general election. At present, non-Spanish residents can vote in municipal elections, and this I feel is most important, for it is at a local level that who is in charge can affect most matters that occur in one's daily life. At the other end of the scale, non-Spanish residents may vote in European elections, and after all, we are all Europeans now and decisions made in Brussels affect us all. If someone is a long-term resident here, i.e. born in Majorca of foreign parents and holding foreign nationality, after the required number of years, he or she can easily apply for Spanish nationality. I am sure that the retired couples who come here to live will not be bothered about the Spanish general election. A large amount do not even bother to use their right to vote in the local or European elections, and may have, with the wisdom of age, decided that one politician's promises are much the same as another's! Graham Phillips, Palma