15-08-2015Javier Coll

Records, records, records
Records being broken left, right and centre, the local economy on a high, all was glowing last week, except when it rained and except also for some scepticism regarding those records.

It was Sunday when the records were first being churned out. Our front page suggested that hotel chains had never had it so good. Prices were up, profits were up, turnover was up. The Revpar ratio (revenue per available room) was leaping by as much as 20%, while the British market, helped by the weakness of the euro, was spending more both in hotels and outside in bars and restaurants. By the end of the week, a record holiday season was being announced. Majorca and the Balearics were accounting for a quarter of all tourism in Spain. Jason Moore, though, was not convinced. Record numbers of visitors might create records, but there is more to the main tourism season than the volume of people. There is also what they spend and the length of the season itself. Once there is genuine proof of higher spend and of a lengthening of the season, then it might be possible to talk about records.

Booming economy?
The regional economy was giving the government something to boast about. On all the main performance indicators, the Balearics was outshining the other principal sun-and-beach tourism regions of Spain - the Canaries, Catalonia, Andalusia and Valencia. The principal cause of the good news were the employment figures. The Balearics has been beating the other regions in terms both of greater employment and higher falls in unemployment, but buried among these joyful numbers was the tell-tale statistic regarding the type of employment. Overwhelmingly, new jobs were temporary - some 50,000 more of them - while permanent jobs had risen by a substantially lower percentage. When you get record numbers of visitors, then there is the demand for jobs to service them, but these jobs disappear just as quickly as the record numbers evaporate when the season comes to an end.

Weather washouts
Still, the shining economic performance was more shiny than the weather for a time earlier in the week. Last Saturday's big fiesta day, as we reported on Sunday, was something of a washout, as torrential rain and storms hit the Balearics. An improvement to the weather on Sunday (though not everywhere in Majorca) was followed by two more days of rain and storms, and the bell tower of the Monti-sion church in Porreres was a victim of lightning strike. We showed the missing part of the tower on Tuesday.

The eco-tax storm
A different type of storm - that regarding the tourist eco-tax - continued to rumble. On Wednesday, we learned that the regional government intends talking to the national ministry for development about possibly collecting the tax at ports and airports (the ministry, on behalf of the state, is responsible for the main ports and the three airports in the Balearics). It was a plan that received short shrift in the paper, with Andrew Ede on Friday describing it as boneheaded. (It's most unlikely that national government will agree to it anyway.)

On the principle of the tax itself, Miquel Estelrich Bestard's letter of Friday put the case for its introduction, saying that it "should have been already introduced by former governments" and placing its implementation within the environmental context of both the "massive influx of tourists" and climate change.

Cheaper petrol
The poor weather, it was being noted, was leading the great numbers of August visitors to take to the roads, causing traffic chaos, especially in Palma. Tourist drivers in future might, though, be able to take advantage of lower petrol prices. The price of fuel in the Balearics is the highest in Spain, and so the emergence of low-cost petrol stations, as reported on Thursday, can only be seen as beneficial - to drivers at any rate.

The bobbies
The British bobbies have been and gone and left behind them a trail of mocking reports in the media. The deputy chief constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, was having none of it though. On Tuesday, we reported that the decision to despatch officers Williams and Anderson to Magalluf (and then Ibiza) had been the right one.

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