The pound in a tourist’s pocket
Cheerful news this week for those benefiting from a weak euro and a sterling exchange rate that continues to soar and that reminds us of the good old days early in this Millennium when the pound wasn’t threatening to be reduced in value to parity with the euro.
The local property market in Majorca is attracting interest from British buyers, we learned. Indeed, this interest has been “rising dramatically in the last few months”. For British tourists, the pound in their pocket will make Majorca 15% cheaper, which is “great news”, as our Wednesday front page suggested.
As ever, though, a much more advantageous exchange rate for tourists is only good if UK tourists can actually get to Majorca, so there was some possibly encouraging news for our friends in Scotland with the Scottish Government promising to reduce Air Passenger Duty by a half.
According to the CEO of Edinburgh Airport, “the economic benefit of a reduction will outweigh any lost tax revenues”, and this benefit would be a two-way street (or rather flight path) with more visitors going to Scotland as well as leaving and coming to Majorca.

The certainties of tax
Of the two certainties in this world, tax was being given greater prominence than death. Neither, let’s be honest, is something we willingly hope to give prominence to as neither is exactly good news, except when tax is going down.
So, it was with sadness that we had to report that the Més party was proposing that a tourist tax be revived and that it would be levied at a typical rate of two euros per night per tourist, double the rate of the unlamented eco-tax.
Never mind, if it were to be introduced, for British tourists the improved exchange rate would make it easier to swallow.
Meanwhile, everyone’s friends at the Hacienda were announcing yet another crackdown on illegal holiday rentals, determined to flush out undeclared tax wherever it may lurk in apartment blocks across the island.
The tax people already have 200,000 websites that they will be trawling through in order to find tax-avoiding miscreants and to issue them with hefty fines for their illegal activities.
This “massive crackdown” follows last year’s massive crackdown and that of the year before and the year before that.
But don’t let this lull you into believing that this massive crackdown is not the real thing.

Prolonging the season
Returning to Més, its candidate for president of the Council of Majorca at the election this May, the current Mayor of Esporles Miguel Ensenyat, was photographed alongside “Irish cycling legend” Stephen Roche, and he - Roche - was supporting an expansion of the island’s cycling tourism industry.
Ensenyat observed that “cycle tourism is attracting a whole new type of visitor to Majorca, and the sector is helping to prolong the season”. Stephen Roche did not comment on the Més proposal for a two-euro-a-night tax.
The prolonging of the season is one justification for Palma’s Palacio de Congresos conference centre and hotel. On Tuesday, we took a bit of a punt by stating on our front page that the Palacio was “coming soon”.
Well, it looks as though it might be, and there was tourism minister Martínez sporting a hard hat as he surveyed the at-present 85% completion of the centre.
October could be the month when it finally opens, though there remains the slight problem of there not being anyone to run it; the deadline for the latest round of tendering closes on Tuesday.
In Friday’s paper there was an account of the Palacio’s chequered history from the decision to go ahead with it in 2003 to the current day.

Getting ready for the season - or not
More immediately pressing than a longer-term prolongation of the season is ensuring that all is ready for the coming season. We discovered on Friday that in Magalluf work was going on “around the clock to improve the resort’s infrastructure, upgrade the quality of services and facilities offered by hotels, bars and restaurants and to generally improve the resort’s image”.
Magalluf will probably be ready for the season, which is more than can be said for Puerto Alcudia.
Suspension of work to lay underground high-voltage cabling along and off the main road in the port area was, it was reported yesterday, being considered. The work has now indeed been suspended. For three months. Leaving a main road that is half dug-up and enormous disruption.

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