Palma.—The Balearic government will now have the final say on whether Palma will be allowed to “experiment” with Sunday and Bank Holiday opening this year.

During yesterday's council meeting, the final details of the scheme were ironed out and approved by the two main parties and now the white paper will be submitted to government for final approval.

The proposal has been downgraded to an “experiment” because the small to medium sized traders fear that the move will only benefit the large stores, but only one of the El Cortes Inglés department stores, for example, will be allowed to open because the large one on the Avenidas falls outside of the area the council wants declared an “influential tourist zone”.

Under current legislation, stores which cover an area of under 300 square metres can open in Palma on Sundays and bank holidays, it is just that until now they have chosen not to, on the grounds that it is not cost effective.

But, if larger competitors are going to be able to open, they will have little choice but to follow suit.
Alvaro Gijon, the Councillor for Tourism, explained yesterday that an estimated 300'000 cruise passengers are going to visit Palma on weekends during the experimental period which should run from April 1 until October 20. And, Gijon said those 300'000 visitors could mean an extra 15 million euros for the city centre's shops, bars, restaurants and museums if they are allowed to open. “We've done the math and it makes economic sense.
Aimed at tourists “The scheme is not particularly aimed at residents but tourists as part of the drive to establish Palma as an all-year round destination,” he added. “We'll see how it works, but we're very optimistic and what is more, we will be organising a host of street activities, markets and entertainment and all the main monuments and museums will be open.” The opposition far left PSM-IV-ExM coalition oppose the move, they have leapt to the defense of the small traders who, they claim will lose out to the main high street retailers but the Majorcan Restaurant Association has pledged its full support.

Association spokesperson, Francisco Martinez, said that these types of initiatives are what Palma needs if the ‘Palma 365' programme is ever going to work. “It will increase the number of visitors coming to the capital and also give the local economy a much needed boost.
Throughout the experiment, a special commission will monitor its success and also make sure that all participating businesses play by the rules.


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