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By Ray Fleming

Cartoon Truths

The art of cartoons is to reduce complex issues to the ridiculous. The Bulletin’s recently arrived cartoonist, Bibi, demonstrated this to perfection in Friday’s paper.
    A man knocks on the door of his neighour in an apartment block and says: “Good morning. I am the next door neighbour and I have come to ask permission to rent my apartment.” His neighbour replies, “Excuse me, but I am not the owner, I’m the tenant’s friend, the tenant has sub-let and he has sub-let to the owner.”
   The cartoon, of course, is about just one of the items of a new Tourism Law which is under review at the moment in the Balearics and has had extensive coverage in the Bulletin.  
   In addition to many other requirements the law includes a provision that permission of neighbours has to be obtained if you want to let your house or apartment.
   One can understand the thinking behind this rule but it is among so many others of a restrictive character that it is difficult to dismiss the suspicion that one of the main purposes of the law will be to strengthen the position of hoteliers and to prevent a potential development of a market in holiday sub-letting which would benefit many sectors of the local economy.

Playa de Palma

A more positive note was struck by Wednesday’s front-page headline
“Massive new investment in tourist sector.”
    Massive was the word as 469 million euros has been earmarked for investment in the Playa de Palma with new hotels to be built, existing ones and apartments upgraded, new leisure facilities introduced and a major commercial centre established.
   If  this  good news rings a very distant bell it will probably be because similar plans  were brought forward a decade ago but eventually put on hold in 2012, mainly becasue of lingering recession factors. A final go-ahead for The Integral Reform of the Playa de Palma (PRI) is  expected before the end of the year; the investment of 469 million will be  split between 365 million by  the private sector and 104 million public funding which will mostly go to infrastructual projects.
   Yesterday’s Looking Back feature in the Bulletin put all these developments into perspective with an item looking back to 1950 in Arenal and the Playa when “There was only one hotel called Oasis” and another from 1966 surveying the facilities and appeal of eight hotels ranging from “romantic setting” to  “truly Beatles atmosphere”.

Fosh and Food

In a long interview with someone who has already contributed a great deal to Palma’s restaurant standards, Humphrey Carter also learnt that there is still “much more to be done if Palma is to promote itself as a food destination”.  The interviewee was the chef Marc Fosh who in several projects since he arrived on Majorca in 1996 has become the first British chef in Spain to win a coveted  Michelin star,  has been recognised as a strong advocate of local natural produce while also designing appropriate first and business class menus for Lufthansa and supervising several first-class restaurants.
    But he is still frustrated, as he explained in the interview: “We could be doing so much more. Food tourism is big business.  It moves a lot of people and money but when Majorca is mounting some kind of promotion overseas, and I don’t want to be disrespectful, but it’s always the same Majorcan biscuits and sobrasada.
Come on -- there’s so much more to Majorcan food than that, especially today
with all the great chefs we’ve got on the island. We need to  change our way of thinking, a new mindset. We need to look at how other cities promote themselves as gastronomic tourist destinations.”  Meanwhile, Mark Fosh has  launched his own glossy magazine, Fosh Food, and is setting up a Spanish restaurant in Toronto, Canada, which may be followed by another in Shanghai.
   Perhaps the tourist authorities on Majorca should seriously consider what Fosh has to say about the role of good food in attracting tourists. At the moment it is rare and exceptional to see any reference to Majorcan restaurants and local food in  articles about the Balearics in international newspapers and magazines. It’s a dimension that is missing from  Majorca’s multi-faceted image.

In Brief

Riots in the deprived Son Gotleu area of Palma required over one hundred
National and Local police to restore order on two nights as Nigerian and gypsy
communities  clashed, often over tiny matters that escalated with drink and
heavy night heat. Son Gotleu was the scene of similar trouble in the summers
of 2009 and 2011.
Some startling price rises in hotel prices in August were revealed by the
Hotel Price Index organisation. Although the report covered most European resorts, the Balearics showed the lead with increases of more than three
hundred per cent in Ibiza and a more typical one hundred and fifty per cent at some hotels in Cala-d’Or, Magalluf and Palma. Of the ten largest price-hikes identified by the Index seven were in Spain of which three were in Ibiza and three in Majorca.     

A report that cycle tourism is worth 150 million euros per year in the Balearics, mostly for Majorca, and is being promoted with a new website will have caused  mixed feelings among residents. The site in English, French, German and Spanish features the many cycling routes “on excellent secondary roads that have converted the island into one of the most popular cycling destinations in Europe over the past decade.”  Although the earning power of cycling tourism is recognised there is also a body of opinion that much needs
to be done to make cyclists from other countries more aware of road conventions and safety measures on Majorca.

Although Magalluf has disappeared from the front page it still features negatively in Letters to the Editor. One this week described “disgusting conditions in the lifts, sex in the pool, fights in corridors, fire extinguishers smashed, music being played all night...I came home exhausted with lack of sleep, being too scared to sleep never knowing what was going to happen next.”