DEAR SIR

THE Bulletin reports that our tourist industry would be improved with better transport and increased opening times in shops. While this might be true, the statements in support of this do not make the grade.

Starting with the stats. 20%-50% passengers remain on board. While this could be important, as presented it is not. If transport from Dique d´Oeste is the problem, then we would need to know some figures indicating that the docks farther out have a significantly greater percentage of those on board then those farther in. If opening times are the issue, then we need to know if those staying on board is greater then when the shops are closed.

I feel that if this is a problem it is not with Palma, but the cruise lines who make more money with their package tours, and those drinking and playing the slots on board, and discourage their passengers from free style touring.

If , to the question, are shops open, the answer is “no”, this is not exactly true. The question that needs to be asked are which type of shop is of interest. Many tourists, only want the “I was there” type of souvenir (tea spoons, hats, scarves, beach towels, post cards), or film and other supplies. Except late at night, one can purchase these items, every day of the week – lower end of the Borne, area around the Cathedral and Palace. I can't imagine why a British tourist would want to go to Palma to shop at C&A. Again back to the cruise line motivation, what the tourists do not buy at their selected stops on tours, or their dock concessions, or on board, means they make less profit.

Regarding bus transport. If the boat docks at the terminal, one need not walk 30 minutes to the Cathedral, one can take a bus, as these are on time, and close together on a regular schedule. If the problem is Dique d´Oeste, this is not a Palma, but a cruise line problem. The regular ferry boats also use Dique d´Oeste, and provide free transport too and from the terminal. It would not be too difficult for the cruise line to arrange a shuttle between these points, or better yet, make arrangements for the double-decker Palma tour bus, to include this place as a regular stop. As a one price includes getting on and off where ever one wants, tourists, could say, get off the bus at Bellver, see the castle, and continue on the next bus. But then again, this would cut into cruise line income. Another solution would be to have an open line from the purser's so that on docking interested passengers could have a cab awaiting them on the dock. Speaking of which, the 11-30€ is a bit of an exaggeration, when one considers that the cab only need go to a bus stop, 1.5k as mentioned – much less then 11€. As for the 30€, this would not only take one anyplace in Palma and back, but would also get one to the Airport, Algaida, Palmanola, Marrartxi, and pretty close to Valdemossa.

A few years back, I took my first, and probably last cruise (Barcelona-France-Italy-Tunisia-Sicily-Palma-Barcelona). Right off they put a lot of pressure on the passengers to purchase excursions (before the vacancies are taken, no refund if you change your mind). My sister lives an hour north of Rome, so I did some price comparison, and told some fellow passengers what I had discovered. They were programmed to be nervous about getting lost, robbed, and missing the boat, but I convinced them otherwise. The Rome tour, from Ostia, cost 40€, basically a photo op. Because the tours need to get organized, my group left the boat an hour before the tour started, we walked to the station, took a train to Rome. I walked them into St Peters, and we caught the pope saying mass. On the way out, we saw our boat tour in line waiting to get in. Leaving my friends, I took another train north. My personal cost for the day was 16€ for transport, and a good map is not only cheaper but more interesting then a guide, besides one does not have to stay with the group.

When it came to Palma 18:00-24:00, again 40€ for a photo op tour. This time, using the net, I ordered a van for 8 of us to be waiting on the dock. I dropped off the driver on the Maritimo, and picked him up on my return. With 8, the cruise line would have collected 320€, left an hour later, and gotten back an hour earlier then us. We visited the same places, but the difference is that we got inside … the Cathedral after mass, Bellver Castle for a concert, plus all the usual photo ops, and had a great dinner in Portixol. The cost of the van was 40€ (or 5€ each).

My point is that the problem is not Palma or Majorca, but the tourist industry, and their little payoffs, and ways of making money on the side that is the problem.

Richard Goss, Porreres

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