SATURDAY'S article We need your support by Linda Ledwidge obviously comes straight from the heart of how hard pressed some small business owners in Calvia., but being experienced no doubt, all over the island, by others in a similar plight. That the world economic crisis is also affecting the tourist trade here, has meant the pinch is being felt more so, but rules and regulations by the authorities are there for a reason, not specifically to punish bar owners, etc. Bars being part of a building of mainly residential units is already a conflict of interests, and the noise factor has to be controlled. In our estate agency business, we have seen a growing trend with promoters of new buildings to limit the choice of operation of commercial locals to avoid conflict; should have been introduced some 40/50 years past. In part, the arrival of all inclusive holidays (amongst other factors) has resulted in there being too many bars for the available clientele. Each season there is a thinner slice of the cake per operator. The reaction of many is to raise prices, and/or employ barkers to pull people in from the pavements, use loud music in the belief this will create a welcome ambiance. Unfortunately this can alienate as many as it attracts, and does not keep up the standards that the Govt. touristic board wish to maintain. In fact bar owners etc should be aware that there are a number of other rules and regulations, the authorities can fine or close premises on. One very noticeably ignored in many establishments, are on smoking. Just because premises have less than 100 m/2 and can be all smoking where food is supplied, children should not be on the premises, Restaurants who have a smoking and non smoking areas, should be separated totally by doors, - an example of this can be seen in El Corte Inglés in their cafeteria in Las Avenidas.
Everything, from menus to outside advertising must be in Spanish (or Catalan) as well as the operators choice of language, i.e. English, German, etc. Standards should be kept up to scratch in case of a visit from the health inspector, and many more to be ready for. One reads letters from visitors daily, on the different/higher prices charged, and when I first came here (40 years past) all bars, etc had to display an official price list, usually broken down into charges: at the bar, inside, on the terrace. I had thought this had been dropped over the years, so much to my surprise when I re-visited a bar, near my previous home in Las Avenidas, to see one (newly) displayed. Upon enquiring, Iwas told by the owner it was a legal requirement, so all those operators who do not have this, might do well to check with their Gestor! But commercial operators can console themselves that they are not alone in having to deal with the rules of the land, owners of private dwellings who wish to rent out on holiday lets should have a touristic permission, again designed to meet certain standards. Amongst the many requirements can be: reception, residents lounge, handicapped ease of access, etc, air cond., all the things it is felt tourists should have available, - the list is quite long. Pressure is brought onto the Govt. by hoteliers, who claim they have to keep to all these rules and regulations; and not least, pay their taxes, and this represents a large loss of income to the State. This comes up each year, but so far the authorities have only taken a few cases to fine, etc as it is firstly difficult to discover and prove, but with the tens of millions of tax being lost, one day a system will be devised to crack down on this, but hopefully with some flexibility to enable self catering via private owning to continue. The probability is that a number of small bars/shops will close their doors this year, and with a little change expected for 2010, more next year. There may then be a slightly bigger slice of cake for the survivors.