SO another year on Majorca has flown past and we can look forward to 2014 with renewed confidence because at last it appears that the Spanish economy is on the mend.
Four long years of recession have obviously taken their toll on the island with record unemployment. The economic downturn has also meant that a large number of expatriates have returned to their country of origin. But the green shoots of recovery appear to be growing and I suspect that we will see an influx of new German and British residents in the months to come. As editor of this newspaper I often feel that  there is just too much bad news. We receive a daily diet of bad news from all the media outlets, the Bulletin included. It got to a point that I even planned to introduce a column entitled the good news bulletin! I know that there is an old adage which says that good news doesn´t sell newspaper but sometimes you reach a point when you want to read something uplifting.
Hopefully in the New Year we will be reading more upbeat headlines.
Tourism continues to be one of the bright spots of the local economy but not everyone agrees that 2013 was such a great year for tourism as the official figures suggest. The growth in all inclusive packages has meant that many bar and restaurant owners in resorts have seen their takings fall. One bar owner told me that if the present trend continues our tourist resorts will just consist of hotels in ten years time.  Now, I agree that tourists want value for money but Ido believe that the local authorities should ensure that there is the necessary balance between all inclusive holidays and your standard package holiday. A fifty/fifty  split would  probably please all. The local authorities must realise the damage that these holiday packages are doing to the resorts at the moment and they are threatening the livelihood of thousands of people.
O NCE again in 2013, Magalluf has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. But at least everyone has now agreed that something has to be done about Magalluf. The Spanish and British government will be working together to try and ensure that Magalluf is finally brought to heel. Also the redevelopment plans which have been announced for Magalluf should mean that in the not too distant future Magalluf will be the flagship of the new Majorca, with upgraded hotels and new leisure facilities. This is not just wishful thinking on my behalf. The Melia Hotel chain plans to spend millions of euros to give all their hotels a facelift in Magalluf. I suspect that in years to come Magalluf will be the star of the show of Balearic tourism rather than the dunce which it is at the moment.

LOOKING ahead to 2014 and we should see the end of our useless green residence certificate which is being replaced by our old style residence cards which are valid ID. After a long campaign we should finally see the end of  the green certificate this Autumn. This is obviously fantastic news. I haven´t met a single person who likes the green certificate. It it also the one issue which unites the foreign community on Majorca.  

NOW continuing with my wish list for 2014 I would ask the Spanish government to sort out the problem of so-called illegal holiday lets. Iknow that legislation is in place but I think that you would have to be a Harvard Professor of Law  to understand it. The local ministry for tourism needs to introduce clear legislation which will allow home owners to rent out their properties during the Summer months. Not only are holiday flat tenants vital for the local economy they also help the struggling real estate sector. When Ipurchased my first home on the island I was told that I could easily supplement my income and pay the mortgage by renting it out during the Summer months.  Unfortunately, if Ihad done so I would have broken the law and the local ministry for tourism, thanks to pressure from local hoteliers (yes the same people who brought us the all inclusive holiday) are trying to crackdown. Rather stupid legislation from the local authorities is continuing to dent the local economy. And it is not only the local authorities. The Spanish Tax Office in Madrid has also called on wealthy expats and Spaniards that they must declare their worldwide assets. This has obviously caused some concern and Ihave heard that some expatriates are even planning to say farewell to the island as a direct result. Senseless legislation like this move and the matriculation tax, which happily has now been abolished, cause great problems.  The last thing that Majorca wants to do at the moment is to scare away foreign investors, especially at a time when the local economy  is recovering. The government should be looking to increase foreign investment rather than trying to hamper it.

At the Bulletin 2013 was a special year because we celebrated our 50th anniversary and our chairman Pere Serra was awarded an honorary MBEby the British government. Fifty years is a major milestone for any newspaper and it wouldn´t have been possible without your  help. The Bulletin remains the only daily English language newspaper in Spain, a state of affairs we are obviously very proud of. As Andy Valente, the founding editor of the Bulletin said, when they produced the first front-page of the newspaper they never thought that it would all lead to an MBE.

SO that is it for another year. I would like to thank everyone for all their help during the year. There are many things to look forward to in 2014 and I sincerely hope that all on Majorca will row in the same direction and ensure that the island can restore its economic fortunes. So on that upbeat note Iwould like to wish you all a very Happy New Year and enjoy those 12 grapes of luck.  Cheers and thank you very much indeed.


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