The all-inclusive debate kicks off again
While the winter flights debate from the previous week continued through the letters’ pages, the emphasis shifted towards another of the hardy perennials of tourism woes - all-inclusives - and the context of this latest round of discussion was the Greek election, the victory of Syriza and what it has in mind for all-inclusives.
On Thursday, Andrew Ede considered the declared intention of Syriza to put a halt to new, large-scale all-inclusive resorts and to seek ways of reducing the number of AI packages for the hotels that already offer them, noting that such moves might well harm investment in a country which badly needs it. He also looked at how political organisation and the relationship between central government and the regions in Greece differs to that of Spain.
In Greece, central government command for matters related to tourism is easier to enforce than in Spain, where the regions have significant powers to decide for themselves what tourism policy should be; in Greece they do not. Moreover, given the current nature of Spain’s politics, with the Partido Popular in control, any similar moves on all-inclusives to those that Syriza wishes for Greece would be most unlikely.
On Friday, the story made the front page and there were the views of Antonio Gonzalez, the president of the Association of Majorcan Tourist Attractions, who applauded what the Greeks intend to do and insisted that “the (regional) government has got to introduce serious regulations for the all-inclusive sector”.
(Sr Gonzalez, it might be noted, has been making such calls since he became president of the association and gave it a very much stronger voice than it had previously had.)
In the Viewpoint, Jason Moore also applauded the Greek move, advising that there should be a “curb” on all-inclusives in order to “save the bar trade”.
There was, understandably, a great deal of support for all-inclusives to be restricted in Majorca among followers of our Facebook page and these were summarised in yesterday’s paper.
(What perhaps was being overlooked was that the actions of the Greek government will make tour operators look elsewhere and that Majorca will benefit because of its all-inclusive hotels.)
Spanish economic growth and tourism
In broader tourism terms, we reported on Wednesday that it is tourism which is driving Spanish economic recovery.
At the Global Tourism Forum in Madrid, prime minister Mariano Rajoy was able to tell delegates that, as tourism had grown by almost 3% in 2014, it was proving to be the “engine” of the recovery, a view, as we noted on Friday, that didn’t go down well with organisations such as the Spanish hoteliers federation who accused Rajoy of using the strength of tourism for electioneering purposes while ignoring requests for IVA in the tourist sector to be reduced and thus assist further growth.
On the wider economy, in yesterday’s paper we looked at Spain’s growth but flagged up concerns for Rajoy’s Partido Popular and government, namely that bank lending is still very restricted and that the government may not be able to convince the public that economic turnaround is “meaningful”.
Real Mallorca fan club and other sporting themes
On Wednesday, and so picking up on the initiative launched the previous week, we featured the inaugural meeting of Real Mallorca’s English-speaking fan club. It was a big success.
On a different sporting theme, in Sunday’s edition Humphrey Carter profiled diver Matthew Wade, the British-born teenager who lives on Majorca and is set to represent Spain for the first time at the European championships in Moscow this coming June.
And on another sport, we have been following the fortunes of Team Sky during this week’s Challenge Mallorca cycling races (the Trofeo Playa de Palma is today), albeit that one particular Team Sky rider, Bradley Wiggins, is not taking part.
We reported on his arrival in Majorca last Sunday and on Tuesday that he was to miss the Challenge and start his season in Qatar instead.
Nevertheless, our resident cocktail mixer, Charles Harrington-Clarke, replete with one-time Wiggins trademark sideburns, was introducing us last Sunday to his Lambrettatini/Flying Side Burn cocktail, one dedicated to Wiggins’ “all-round Modness and epic sporting achievements”.
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