FRIDAY'S Daily Bulletin informs that the monster GESA building at the eastern end of the Paseo Maritimo has been empty for a year and now is occupied by squatters.
The Palma City Council has yet to decide what to do with it. This is not a year of indecision but more like five as I'm sure the plan for the electricity company move was planned years in advance. After all its new site in Coll den Rabassa had to be cleared and the new building designed and constructed. What an incredible level of inefficiency and probably complacency. As well as losing income for a year there will be costs of evicting the drug addicts plus sanitising the building. All this at a time of economic hardship and unemployment at 18% (Daily Bulletin 24 Oct).
The Ajuntament has form. In 1999, just prior to local elections, the Town Hall bought the Isla Azul hotel in the picturesque church square of Can Pastilla. They hung from the roof a gigantic canvas promising its conversion to a library, medical clinic and a senior citizens centre. None of this happened for the next 9 years. Look at that again, not 9 weeks of inactivity, not 9 months of dithering but 9 years of blatant waste.
What did happen (as with the GESA building today) is that vagrants moved in. The council evicted them a year or so later (the blink of an eye in Officialdom) and took out all ground floor doors and windows and blocked them with cement blocks. More vagrants broke in. The building continued to deteriorate.
About 5 years ago the building was pulled down and the abandoned site used as an unofficial car park with the scars of the adjacent building's ripped out doors and windows. This allowed our holiday makers the luxury of two centre vacation the Playa de Palma and bombed out Baghdad not quite the Zona Piloto de Excelencia Turistica nearby banners proclaimed. The promised medical centre finally opened this summer 10 years late.
Last (Saturday) the Bulletin headlined Winter Tourism Woes has it all wrong according to Imserso. This is a government run scheme to boost winter tourism by subsidising Spanish Pensioners (and that includes us foreign residents) to take hotel breaks in the off season. Since I retired in 2006 I have put my name forward each year for ANY of their cultural holidays without success. This year I applied in September on the first day allowed to be told everything was already booked. All this at a time of supposedly falling tourism and early hotel closure.
The worst winter season in 10 years (Daily Bulletin 21 Oct). I sometimes feel that I am not living on the same planet as these officials! These are just 3 examples of flagrant waste which are completely unnecessary. I'm sure other readers could provide more examples.
Way back in 2002 Jason Moore proposed a tourist complaints department to go some way to haul back the 370 million decline so far that year. Fast forward to this year with Britons down 16% (Daily Bulletin 23 Oct).What ever happened to Tiffany Blackman of the Tourist Promotion Body? She had a weekly complaints column in the Bulletin which soon died the death. I suggest that all complaint letters that are printed are passed to a named elected representative in the administration and their response or lack of it published. I emphasise printing the actual name of the politico contacted not just to give the anonymity of their government department an attempt to name and shame the dilatory politicians who are not worth reelecting.
This is a more wholesome approach to my initial response with Guy Fawkes approaching and the sticking of my fireworks in appropriate places in the body politic!
Playa de Palma
I have just returned from another wonderful break on your Magical Island which I have been visiting for well over 20 years.
As I regularly keep up with things reported in the Bulletin via the internet I thought that it would be only right for me to make a few observations. I always stay in Alcudia and have to agree with Graham Phillips that Spain is not a third world country and if you want cheap everything that is where you must go! I was able to have a small beer for as little as 1 euro, albeit on the beach it would have cost 2.95 euros, but that is only to be expected. I saw a menu del dia for as little as 6.5 euros but settled for one costing 9 euros which was on the Marina, which has to be said is a beautiful setting for lunch or dinner. It consisted of a choice of two starters, two main courses a sweet, water and choice of white, red or rose wine or a small beer, complete with bread and olives! On one particular day (we went there several times) the choice was salad or paella with noodles, followed by john dory or lamb with a fresh fruit salad as a sweet, all for under £10.00, now that's what I call real value! The only criticism I could make is that all of the advertised prices were subject to IVA something that we are not used to in the UK, but we were not in the UK so had to get used to it! Although the prices in the local supermarkets varied quite a lot, and the beer is generally more expensive than in the UK I found many bottles of wine for under 2 euros and most were very palatable. If you want English brands you will have to pay top dollar, but surly when in Rome do as the Romans, that's what my wife and I look for, a complete change to our normal routine, which means different food as well! This was the first year for well over 20 years, that because of the increase in cost, we didn't have a hire car, and I have to admit that getting off the plane and knowing that there wasn't one waiting, was a little unusual. We had found a company called Resorthoppa on the internet which offered pick-up at airport and drop off at your destination for £20 per person return. We found the service to be excellent and it did exactly as it said, and all within minutes of pick up times, I will have no hesitation in using it again, and have indeed recommended it to several people already! I still don't know exactly why car-hire has gone up so much, all the people that I talked to were also confused, but it certainly is a drawback for certain Majorcan businesses! Because we had no car we only stayed in and around the Port only using taxis a couple of times. We would normally visit restaurants which are off the beaten track or a bit longer than a short taxi ride, these are the ones that did not get our custom, but I suppose the local ones gained, a simple matter of swings and roundabouts!
The beach was as clean as I have ever seen it, and this was well noticed. Also there were very few beach vendors this year. I do understand that they were/are not official and so cannot be regulated, but I do miss their cries whilst selling their goods, it's a shame that they cannot be registered in some way and keep a tradition alive.
However it's not all good news I'm afraid! Yet again we overheard so many people complaining about the all inclusive hotels. They can and do offer cheap deals, and to do this obviously save money on brands and staff, but I feel that they are lowering the earning capacity of local businesses! It is very noticeable that the numbers are down, but not what I was expecting, but because of the all-in culture local bars and restaurants must be suffering.
You have a most wonderful asset with your Island and I feel that it must be marketed more comprehensively.
Invite people to stay at Hotels but remove the all-in policy, thus making them visit local restaurants in the evening, and even for lunch. There are many places on your Island but I can only speak about Alcudia, it still has that personal feel about it and has so much to offer, not only bars and restaurants but quaint little shops, walks around the marina and the back streets.
As I have said many times in the past, we will be back! In fact we intend to retire to the Magic Island in under 3 years so have every intention of coming back.
I just feel that I must in my own little way try to promote, what to me is a beautiful place.