LEADER of the Calvia Council opposition party, Antoni Machado, sparked a new war of words yesterday by accusing the ruling Partido Popular of having steadily reduced investment in tourism and promotion over the past four years.
Machado, the PSOE socialist candidate for mayor at the forthcoming municipal elections, claimed yesterday that, since the PP came to power, they have cut tourism investment by 37 percent and the amount of money spent on promoting tourism in Calvia by 56 percent.
According to Machado, in 2003, 450'000 euros was invested in tourism but, in next year's budget, just 280'000 euros has been set aside for tourism.
Machado accused the mayor, Carlos Delgado, of ignoring tourism leaving the industry to search for its own solutions.
However Calvia Councillor for Tourism, Kate Mentink, told the Bulletin yesterday evening that Machado has quite clearly got his facts wrong.
She did admit that there have been complaints this summer from the service sector, bars and restaurants in particular, about poor trade but she denied that the council has slashed money spent on tourism.
For example, Mentink pointed out that the five main tourism information offices, visited by 250'000 people so far this year, are in the process of being renovated that costs money, and that this year, opening hours have been extended which involved three times as many staff being taken on, that too costs money, she stressed.
Over the past four years, large sums of money and time have been spent on increasing Calvia's presence at nearly all of Europe's tourism trade fairs, creating a web site and updating all of the brochures and promotional material which, according to Mentink, had not been changed since the 80*s and, again, costs money. A great deal of money has also been spent on international sporting and cultural events. In fact, the only area in which we have reduced our commitment to tourism is our financial assistance offered to the Majorcan Tourist Board. In the past it was just us and Palma which co-operated with the Tourist Board, but now there are a host of councils involved, so we decided it was fair that they help share the financial burden, Mentink said.
However, she does not deny that, despite near record hotel occupancy figures this year, not everyone in Calvia is happy.
We know that some of the bars and restaurants are complaining but, if according to the figures, we have had one of the best tourism years since the booming early 90*s, there is honestly not much we can do. I see long queues for some bars while the place next store has just five people inside.
Official government figures not only rated Calvia as the most popular or second most popular destination in Spain during the summer, Calvia was also where tourists were spending the most money.
So they are obviously going to bars and restaurants, especially residential tourists.
What has happened is that the number of hotel beds has fallen from 60'000 to 57'000 since the early 90*s while the number of bars and restaurants has increased four fold, Kate Mentink said. We are trying to do our bit, but we can't do it without the full co-operation of the service sector and we can't control market forces once tourists are in a resort, she said.