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By Ray Fleming

AI debate    
“All-inclusive” -- the hotel holidays that are pre-paid as a package which includes everything the average tourist could possibly want -- are emphatically the issue of the moment on Majorca. AI (as it is known in the trade) has been around for at least a decade but suddenly seems to have grown to the point that the Bulletin’s headline on Friday was “40 percent of holidays sold in Britain were for all-inclusive packages”. An innocent abroad might have read that headline as good news for tourism in general and Majorca’s hotels in particular but the better informed would know that it underlined widespread anxiety about the overall effect of AI on the local economy -- and even on the character of Majorca as a multi-faceted tourist attraction.
Although there are many differing views on AI two basic points of view could be seen in the Bulletin’s editorials, reports, opinion columns and Letters to the Editor during the week. One says that AI gives the tourist what he or she wants on vacation at a cost that is known in advance and that eliminates worry about where to eat or drink or relax in an unfamiliar place.
The other says that the effect of AI on local businesses, especially bars and restaurants, is disastrous and that in many resorts they are closing and causing a “ghost-town” effect; further, the “gated” atmosphere of the all-inclusive hotel reduces interest in Majorca’s many other attractions beyond the resorts’ limits.
Clearly, both viewpoints reflect a reality and, to use an overworked phrase, “something needs to be done” before the Bulletin has to run a headline saying that all Majorca is all-inclusive.
The Calvia governing Council and its socialist opposition have joined forces to call on the local tourist authority to consider whether AI could be “curbed and regulated” (for instance, by inspections to ensure that the AI food and drink is “of the necessary quality”!).
However, what seems  to be lacking at this stage of the controversy is “something that can be done” to resolve a potentially dangerous decline in which, ultimately, mass tourism in Majorca could become a series of AI isolated hotels operating in areas empty of any local character.
The economic and social implications of even a small shift in that direction are serious and need to be considered by all those involved in a constructive way.

Seeing double
Michael Montier’s Wild Majorca feature in the Bulletin every Tuesday often reflects the rich range of migrating and resident birds that make the island one of the most-visited in Europe by dedicated bird-watchers.
This week he listed some fifteen birds he had recognised, among them in a single day two Storm Petrels after waiting twenty years to see just one -- “That’s birdwatching though, you never quite know what is going to happen next.”

Boats on show
The 31st Palma International Boat Show opened during the week with 158 exhibitors, including 40 taking part for the first time. The Bulletin marked the event with a supplement which also looked back at its origins and development over the years. The inaugural Show in 1983, at Puerto de Alcudia, was the first in the Mediterranean to feature a floating exhibition and the innovation was continued when the event was moved to the Port of Palma in the following year with an increase in participation from 50 to 100 exhibitors.
This year’s show was the first since the restrictive matriculation tax on non-Spanish registered yachts was cancelled after years of lobbying with an anticipated boom in the local charter industry as a result.

Political economy
The main political news of the week was the proposal by the Balearic Government to reduce the number of elected deputies (MPs) in the local parliament from 59 to 43. At the moment there is approximately one MP for every 19,000 citizens; the change would increase that number to about 26,000 people. The justification for this “reform” is that it would save as much as eleven million euros for each parliament. President Bauza said: “It’s time that parliament adapts to the very serious and very complicated economic climate in which we are all having to live.” Although this change might have a significant effect on political representation in parliament it did not create a great deal of interest since President Bauza’s Partido Popular does not have the two-thirds majority necessary to pass such legislation.

The 4-8am shift
May Day is the official opening of the summer season and accordingly the Street Angels team was ready for duty in Santa Ponsa and Magalluf. When this organisation of volunteers first made an appearance last year some doubts were expressed about how it would integrate with local authorities. However, in Wendy Peters’ interview, Cameron Springthorpe said that the Street Angels have the full support of the Guardia Civil as well as of the Local Police.
Their main task is to provide assistance between 4-8am when they are needed to help vulnerable people who are in an inebriated or semi-conscious state to get back to their hotels or a place of safety. Street Angels volunteers work in over one hundred UK cities. In Majorca it is linked to the Santa Ponsa Community Church. Mr Springthorpe, whose day job is as a yacht skipper, told  Wendy Peters that the Street Angels welcome people interested in helping  and are trying to raise funds for equipment to make their difficult work more efficient.

Soccer gloom
In a graphic article entitled “Grim reaper hovers over Mallorca” the Bulletin’s soccer reporter Monro Bryce said that “The black-cloaked, scythe-wielding personification of Death is coming close to the Son Moix stadium with every game.”  More prosaically he wrote, “Mallorca’s very existence is now hanging by an ever-thinning thread as relegation to the third division would most probably see the club go into liquidation -- then the Grim Reaper moves in and the epitaphs begin.” By a coincidence the Bulletin’s Looking Back feature recalled Fifty Years Ago, 1964, when Real Mallorca lost the last game of the season against Granada 1-4. A gloomy report said that Mallorca FC would probably now spend several seasons in the lower division because they would have to sell their best players.