THE Chairman of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, is currently on holiday in Majorca and yesterday he gave an interview to the Bulletin in which he talked about his decision to pull-out of Majorca, his thoughts on the local tourist industry and of course Concorde. Branson had been planning to transform his Son Bunyola estate in Banyalbufar into one of the most luxurious hotels in the Mediterranean, investing up to $25 million dollars and creating hundreds of new jobs. However, the project ran into all sorts of planning problems from the Banyalbufar council and Branson finally decided to pull-out. It was a very sad decision. As you know I had great plans for Son Bunyola and I was ready to invest a sizeable sum of money in the project. However, the area's Mayor lacked the necessary foresight and the project was shelved. It was a great shame. The local authorities had seen what we had done at La Residencia (the hotel in Deya which Branson owned and which he later sold to the Orient Express Group) and we wanted to recreate this at Son Bunyola. Branson still has plenty of faith in the Balearics, however. If the right project came along we would certainly take a good look at it. I've been coming to Majorca since I was a teenager and I have very happy memories of the island. I think it is a fantastic place. The Virgin tycoon joined other leading businesspeople and applauded the decision by the new local government to scrap the controversial tourist tax. Any tax is never good news. Taxation should be kept as low as possible. Branson also gave his full support to the local government's plan to recruit Hollywood star Michael Douglas to promote the Balearics. I think this is a fantastic move and a major coup for the Balearics. Michael (Douglas) is a major fan of the islands. If and when Branson gets involved again with the Balearics, he said that he would be more than happy to consider a similar role. The Virgin tycoon joined thousands of other fans at the Son Moix stadium in Palma on Sunday afternoon to watch Real Mallorca be defeated by Barcelona. Would Branson be interested in buying the struggling financially hit local club? Well I must say that Son Moix is a fantastic stadium and I had a great afternoon there. However, I feel that Real Mallorca should be owned by Majorcans and also I don't really have the time to come down to the island on a regular basis. So, regretfully no is the answer for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Branson has been heavily involved in trying to keep Concorde flying. He offered to buy the plane from British Airways but his offer was dismissed. Concorde still has a great future ahead of it and can continue flying for at least another 25 years. As you know we have tried unsuccessfully to talk to British Airways about it. What is needed is for the government to get off its backside and talk to BA and make them release the aircraft. I feel very strongly about Concorde. We are still fighting to try and save it.
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