By Ray Fleming
“No satellite signal is being received” was the bad news that thousands of British residents in the Balearics had been fearing. It was showing on BBC satellite channels after a new Astra 2E satellite was brought into use and left some parts of Majorca without their favourite programmes. A similar change for ITV channels was also due to take place shortly. The Bulletin carried a running commentary by readers in different parts of the island as they discovered what their TV-viewing and radio-listening fate was to be. The worst affected areas appeared to be central Majorca and the north and North-East. Sean Connolly of Ocean Satellites was on hand to give technical advice and the comforting assurance that “all is not lost”.
In a Viewpoint the Bulletin editor Jason Moore said the immediate reaction showed that satellite television had become “a vital part of expatriate life” and expressed confidence that technical solutions would be found in most cases and that few will be “left in the cold”. When it became known some months ago that the satellites were to be changed there were predictions that the loss of English language TV would lead to an exit from Majorca by residents who could not face life without it. That now seems unlikely but it may affect property prices in areas where TV access is limited or difficult.
First Mallorca, one of the leading property companies in the Balearics, released its results for 2013 and an analysis of the general state of the market which it saw as confirming two important positives: “Firstly the confidence in the Majorca Real Estate product has substantially improved from uncertainties created by the earlier banking crisis and the over-saturation of the already declining mainland Spanish market...The Majorca property market is far removed from the mainland Spanish product. In reality the two locations could be as far apart as Canada and Australia.” The average property price during the year had been 944,065 euros (ranging from a highest sale of nine million euros plus to the lowest of 124,000 euros). German purchasers accounted for 44 per cent of purchase business with British in second place at 20 per cent.
Luis Aragones Remembered
The news of the death of Luis Aragones, one of Spain’s most highly-regarded soccer coaches was received on Majorca with particular sadness because in the 2000/01 season he had taken Real Mallorca to third place in the Premier League -- the club’s finest achievement of its varied history -- before leaving the following year to take charge of the Spanish national side. For the game at home against Sporting Gijon the flags at the Son Moix ground were at half mast and a minute of silence in Aragones’s memory was observed by the crowd of 10,000. Unfortunately, however, the fact that the Real Mallorca team were wearing shirts with the logo “Hasta siempre Luis” could not help them to recapture the form of Aragones’ time and went down to their visitors 3-1.
Even earlier memories of football on Majorca were stirred by an exhibition at Can Prunera, Soller’s Museum of Modern Art, which Shirley Roberts wrote about in her Spotlight on Soller column. It traces the history of the club which began in 1916 when it was known as Real Sociedad Alonso XIII and was renamed as Real Mallorca in 1931.
Tourism Minister Interviewed
Gerry Mulligan’s interview with Jaime Martinez Llabres, the newly appointed Minister of Tourism for the Balearics, shone a new light on a number of questions which are frequently in the headlines but in recent years have seldom had answers from official sources. It was, for instance, surprising to learn that there are 10,000 fully legal holiday lets available in the Balearics which the ministry intends to publicise, and to know why limitations on shop opening were first introduced and are still in force. The minister showed an awareness of familiar grumbles such as rent-a-car company practises but also was able to field Gerry Mulligan’s question about the less well-known difficulty that tourists have in obtaining a fishing licence.
In many areas solutions are less easy than they may seem to the outside observer because of lingering legislation from earlier eras that require reform. Sr Martinez pointed to the difference between national government tourism publicity that concentrates on “sun, sea and sand” but does not adequately reflect local objectives such as the growing importance of winter tourism in the Balearics. He described the development of winter tourism as an “overriding commitment and top priority of his department”.
Several of the continuing issues dealt with in this interview have gone without informative answers for many years. Sr Martinez’s apparent openness and ambition to address well-known problems will be welcomed widely in the whole tourism community.
A Natural Cycle Park
One flourishing aspect of winter tourism was evident in Bulletin coverage during the week. The very well-attended first International Cycling Congress held its two-day event in Palma on the eve of the opening of the professional cycling season with the Iberostar Challenge Mallorca tour of the island in which the Tour de France and Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins is participating. An interview with Sir David Brailsford, the general manager of Team Sky which has had a training base in Alcudia for fitted years, raised the issue of airline accessibility which Sir David said was “on the limits”.
However he also outlined the attraction of Majorca for Team Sky -- the mixed terrain, the roads and the quietness as well as the “fantastic” accommodation at Alcudia’s Vanity Golf Hotel. A phrase that is increasingly being heard among the international cycling community is that Majorca is “one great natural cycle park” and although there may be some reservations about the wider implications of that description there is little doubt that the events of this week have shown that it is a fact.
Princess in court
The Bulletin was full of reports during the week on the additional security and world media interest in the King of Spain’s daughter, the Infanta Cristina, who appeared in court in Palma yesterday.
The Bulletin published a full interview with Olympic and Tour de France champion, Sir Bradley Wiggins, as part of a new section in the newspaper dedicated to the north of the island. The Bulletin will be publishing a double page section every Saturday.
Wiggins is training on the island and will also compete in the Tour of Majorca which starts today (Sunday).
Letter of the week:
I am surprised by the ignorance of you Scots in Spain regarding being able to vote in the referendum. So, my message to you is, that if you wanted a vote, you should have returned to Scotland like we did in time to register and don’t whinge about a choice you made that even if you had moved to the sunny English Riviera (storms and all just now) you still would not have a vote. Anyway, if you had intended to vote NO tough-tittie I’ll be voting YES and I’ll be happy without your vote!
Orgullo de ser Escoces.
Bill Stirling, Alloa