by Staff Reporter
THE British Consul, Mr Mike Banham, paid an official visit to the neighbouring island of Minorca.
Accompanied by the vice-Consul in Minorca, Deborah Hellyer, he had meetings with Marc Pons, the director of State Administration; Joana Barceló, the president of the Council of Minorca; Arturo Bagur, the Mayor of Mahon, and Francisco Riva, the military commander of the island.

The Consul said that the Balearic Islands would continue to be the most popular holiday destination for British tourists, and insisted that “the central European tourist offers will not change the holiday preferences of the British.” He added that last year more than three million British tourists visited the Balearics.
Majorca has the biggest British community, with around 40'000 residents. Minorca, on the other hand, only has about 6'000 British people on the census.

The Consul admitted that the presence of such a large community can present a few minor problems.
In Majorca, he said, there are associations of British residents which show a marked interest in integration, others, however, do not even make the attempt.

Mr Banham said that the British community had no problems with the Minorcan administration, which has always shown an interest in the British resident and has always left the doors open for dialogue long before conflicts arise.

Deborah Hellyer said that the British community in Minorca had always been very peaceful, although there has been a radical change in the community in recent years.

She went on to say that there are now many young people with their own businesses on the island (clubs, bars, discos and the like), mainly related to tourism.

This, she said, would have been unthinkable 20 years ago, when the British only came to Minorca to retire. Now they come here to settle down and to make a living.

The Consul said that there was a relationship between the British people who choose to settle on the island, and the consulate.
He explained that the consulate provides information so that any British citizen can solve their legal problems, and also answers questions about education and other subjects.

At the same time, it provides information for people who want to visit Britain.
Some legal paperwork can be done through the Consulate's website, although it is basically very little, as most of the paperwork is handled in Madrid.
Mr Banham was making his second visit to the island since he was appointed Consul, to exchange opinions with the island authorities, regarding the British community on the island.

He praised the recent incorporation of direct flights between Minorca and London during the winter.
Before leaving, he expressed his regrets that many British visitors leave Minorca without getting to know the centre of the island.
They are captivated by the sun and the beaches, and fail to appreciate its natural beauty.


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