By Ray Fleming
Letters to the Editor of the Bulletin are mainly about problems of various kinds that their writers think need airing. Occasionally, however, someone thinks that the space should be used to give praise where it is due -- for Majorca’s hospitals, for instance -- or just to say thank you for something that is perhaps too easily taken for granted, as in a letter this week from Phil Green of El Toro:
“As this time of Goodwill and Seasonal Cheer approaches, may I be permitted to show my appreciation publicly, to that selfless and caring organisation, Age Concern Majorca.
As one who has, during the past few years, especially since “Old Father Time” propelled me and my wife into that era that comes to all of us DV, when some assistance becomes necessary, and which is more than alleviated by the, I repeat, selfless helpers and carers who fill the ranks of Age Concern. And although it is invidious to publish their names, I am certainly doing just that with those of their President, Jackie Codd, and her indefatigable and able lieutenant, Anne Kay, both of whom do not spare themselves in their efforts to bring practical help for those requiring assistance and succour. Words alone are but a poor substitute for more tangible appreciation, i.e. given from my pocket, that I bestow whenever possible.
I urge you to do likewise if you sympathise with their laudable aims. I offer my best wishes to Age Concern, and all those who work to sustain its objectives.”
More Winter Tourism Ideas
“Majorca is Closed” was a more typical topic for a Letter to the Editor, this time from F S Jessop writing from Grantham, Lincs, who deplored in considerable detail the decline in Majorca’s appeal in winter since his first visit in November 1989.
“What have the councils and very rich land owners etc., done to make Majorca more attractive -- especially during the winter?” asked Mr Jessop and answered, “Nothing”, before proposing a number of attractions, ranging from Centre Parks in several parts of the Island, a huge Grand Palace night club with top acts from all over the world and a steam
train circumnavigating the whole island.
While recognising the appeal of Mr Jessop’s ideas, Jay D’Arcy of Palma thought in a Letter that they might be too costly and suggested instead that existing facilities and attractions should be put to better use, citing Golf, Cycling and Food Tourism as examples of areas which could draw more visitors and encourage airlines to operate more frequently.
At the same time Mr D’Arcy endorsed tax incentives to encourage hoteliers to remain open in winter. He also asked, pertinently, why “Majorca’s superb but regularly empty golf courses don’t realise that if they lowered their prices for a round from the regular 100 pounds plus they could compete with Portugal, the Canaries and other locations where prices are at least half.”
GOB’s Influential Role
An article by Andrew Ede told the story of the environment conservation organisation GOB (Grup Ornitologic de Balears) from a group of birdwatchers in
1973 to one of he most influential non-governmental organisations in the Balearics forty years later.
Today it has four objectives: three focus on various aspects of conservation and sustainable development while the fourth is concerned with facilitating society’s participation in a better democracy.
As Andrew Ede pointed out, that range of objectives would have been impossible in 1973 during the Franco era but GOB’s success in 1977, two years after his death, in the campaign against plans for the development of the uninhabited Sa Dragonera Island was a turning point.
Further effective action against inappropriate developments gained GOB respect and influence until in 1997 it was awarded a national environment award by the government in Madrid.
GOB has its critics but its role in protecting the environment as tourist numbers and the population have increased substantially is generally recognised as necessary and effective.
Resort Reform Projects
Although the need for a make-over of Magalluf has dominated the news in the past year other Majorcan resorts have been looking at ways in which they can update tourism facilities which in some cases are well past their sell-by date.
The Palma City Council announced this week an ambitious programme of reforms which will change the appearance and appeal of the Playa de Palma area by the summer of 2016.
At a cost of more than three million euros the ten “balnearios” which spread across five kilometres will be face-lifted to give each one a special character, ranging from water sports to an up-market luxury area and another of restaurants.
The Council acknowledged that familiar problems of organised crime, prostitution and illegal street trading had not yet been eliminated but would have to be dealt with as part of the upgrading of the Playa de Palma as a whole.
The Balearic government’s tourism ministry announced a variety of road and environmental projects throughout Majorca which are to be undertaken before the 2014 season.
The impressive coastal road between Puerto de Pollensa and Alcudia is to be “semi-pedestrianised” (whatever that means) at a cost of 1.4 million euros, Cala Millor will get a new sports and service area, Colonia Sant Jordi a football pitch and athletic track, and the cycle route around the Bay of Alcudia will be completed.
In Soller the old Hotel Rocamar will be demolished and the beach and promenade improved at a cost of one million euros. In all twelve projects will cost 12.4 million euros.
Can all these improvements be completed before the tourists begin to arrive in 2014? It seems a tall order but the government said it can be done.
A “crack-down” on the illegal renting of properties as holiday accommodation was announced with penalties rising to a maximum of 400,000 euros.
Official figures showed that there are 54,000 non-Spaniards in employment in the Balearics of whom about one-half are from other EU countries. The total figure dropped by one-quarter in November, suggesting that the local economy has not yet recovered. However, property prices in Spain rose very slightly in the July-Septemebr quarter.