By Ray Fleming
At a rough guess there must have been a hundred thousand extra visitors on Majorca in recent days. “Extra” in the sense that they are not conventional tourists but sportsmen and women participating in various football, rugby, cricket, cycling and athletics events. One of the biggest of these is the Thomas Cook 70.3 Ironman Triathlon at Alcudia which attracts thousands of athletes, trainers, families, organisers and followers. Great for local business and Majorca’s image? Well yes, but in the Bulletin’s Northern Spotlight on Saturday Andrew Ede wrote about the conflict between the interests of local residents and regular tourists on the one hand and the special arrangements that are necessary if big events are to take place smoothly. The closing of roads is one example met with in many parts of the island for cycling rallies and races. In the case of Ironman and Alcudia Andrew Ede drew this picture: “Inconvenience is not confined to residents and motorists. There is that which tourists have to endure as well. Arguably the greatest negative of Ironman can be seen in the sight of tourists being dropped off well away from their hotel and having to schlep considerable distances with their luggage. They aren’t just crossing a road, they are, in some instances, embarking on a major trek. It is not a satisfactory state of affairs and nor is it satisfactory that tourists who are going to the airport need to be picked up several hours before they would normally be, if it so happens that road closures mean that coaches can’t get to their hotels. And this inconvenience doesn’t only affect Alcudia; Puerto Pollensa is also affected.”
This article made clear that there is much that is positive about events like Ironman; they generate a lot of business and add to Majorca’s reputation as a place where interesting international things happen. At the same time, “There is a legitimate question as to how much inconvenience should be suffered...tourism diversification is fine, but the bread-and-butter, ordinary tourist should not be forgotten or be left to lug cases some great distance.”
Blue Flags Flying
The good news of the week was Thursday’s report on the annual international Blue Flags awards for beaches and marinas. These are supervised by a Danish foundation which requires compliance with thirty-two criteria ranging from quality of the sea water and cleanliness of the beaches to the standard of environmental management. Spain came first of forty-eight countries with 573 Blue Flag beaches and 108 marinas and the Balearics came first within Spain with 61 beaches (eight of them newcomers to the award) and 24 marinas. This impressive result goes a considerable way to answering the recent critical letters and reports about the poor state of some beaches that have appeared in the Bulletin .
Pinewood Deal Off
“The End” was a rather dramatic front page headline with possibly cataclysmic implications. Fortunately, It turned out to be an appropriate if negative play on the caption seen at the finish of so many films, over a report that discussions between the Balearic Government and Pinewood Studios in Britain had come to an unsatisfactory end. There had been hopes that Pinewood, the home of the 007 films, would establish a base in the Balearics, but the talks appear to have foundered on legal issues, especially in relation to the construction of a water tank.
This setback for a project that would provide investment and work and, incidentally, tourist promotion on end titles saying “Locations in Majorca”, is disappointing but not unexpected. Majorca and the other Balearic Islands have many spectacular and adaptable locations as well as an almost perfect climate but several projects with major producers have ended unsatisfactorily over the years. Feature film production is a serious and demanding business which requires a high level of professionalism and long-term commitment in the local administrations hoping to attract it.
Letters of the week
Cyclists and Magalluf remained topics for Letters to the Editor, one from a Belgian visitor who had some hints on how groups of cyclists of ten or more are controlled in his country, for instance with a special car at the rear of the group. Concerning Magalluf the writer thought that people who go there are looking for trouble -- “on the Punta Ballena where on the left side the Germans sit and on the right side the British, both looking to drink as much as possible”-- whereas “We have been coming to Majorca for the last 27 years in a place that corresponds with what we want. If people feel attracted to Magalluf, fine for them, but they know what to expect and should not spread themselves in other parts of the island.”
“We are a group of friends who meet in Magalluf every May since 1980” began another letter which took a very different view: “This year is the first we have felt insecure and vulnerable walking up the Carrer Martin Ros Garcia back to our apartments. From 10pm till 5am there are groups of girls/muggers waiting to pounce on vulnerable individuals...We walked home in groups of six to feel safe. Where were the police? When they did come past they just ignored them...We love your island but don’t let these people spoil it.”
On the page opposite these letters in the Bulletin there was a report “Security Summit in Calvia” at which “Three police forces agreed to work together to resolve the “ills of Magalluf ”.
- A comparison of prices in Spain put Palma as having the fourth most expensive bus system, the highest petrol prices and a costly average of 1.25 euros for a barra.
- The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Liberty of the Seas, now based in Barcelona, made her inaugural visit to Palma with 4,600 passengers on board.
- A new report said that in the first quarter of this year Balearic ports handled nearly 150,000 cruise passengers -- 82 percent greater than the best quarter in 2013.
- Palma’s Bicipalma service of cycles for rent is being extended to enable tourists to buy season tickets of nine euros for three days and twelve euros for five days.