Frank Meysman and Peter Frankhauser of Thomas Cook. | Jaume Morey

0

This was a week dominated by one story - refugees - but we also had the Balearic parliament back in session following the summer break, the eco-tax row going on and Santa Ponsa moving towards centre stage.

Refugees
In the newsroom we were wondering quite what the coverage will be when refugees finally arrive in Majorca. There was a daily diet of announcements regarding preparations, some of them sparked off by Pope Francis having called on parishes to take in at least one refugee family. On Tuesday, the Bishop of Majorca was backing the call (he was, later in the week, to admit that he had been surprised by it, as there hadn't been any indication that it was coming), and even the Majorcan hoteliers were offering assistance. The Association of Hotel Chains, we noted on the same day, was willing to participate in an action plan for the admission of refugees, without it saying what this amounted to. Later in the week we were to learn that the regional government was offering a youth hostel in Arenal, currently not used, to initially accommodate refugees. Do the hoteliers not have the odd property knocking around unused in the off-season?

By Wednesday, we were discovering that the Balearics could admit 300 refugees, a calculation linked to population sizes in the different regions of Spain and to a total figure of 15,000 refugees coming to Spain, which hadn't yet been confirmed (it later was, minus one hundred). The following day, we were reporting on a suggestion that there be an "humanitarian corridor" of Mediterranean ports for the admission of refugees: Palma being one of them along with Cartagena, Valencia and Barcelona. Meanwhile, parliament was calling for a European re-think on refugee policy and law, as these were "obsolete", and organisations such as the Balearic Red Cross and the church's charity, Caritas, were gearing themselves up.

Nepotism charge
Parliament was back down to business, with the never-ending saga of Balearic financing and the appointment of senior government officials at the top of the agenda. President Armengol, as we noted on Thursday, had asked the Partido Popular to drop the "anecdote" regarding the appointment of the health minister's husband as director of the health service. She was assisted by Vice-President Barceló. It had not been a case of "nepotism", said Barceló, in defending the experience of Juli Fuster and in accusing his vice-presidential predecessor from the PP of having been part of an administration which had handed out "countless contracts" to friends and relatives.

Thomas Cook and the tax
Barceló was, for once, saying little about the eco-tax for which, as minister of tourism, he has responsibility. The tour operator Thomas Cook, on the other hand, did have something to say. In Palma during the week, the CEO, Peter Frankhauser, warned that tourists would stop coming to Majorca if they had to pay one or two euros a day more. He said that for a family on holiday for ten days or a fortnight, this would amount to a "significant sum". Frankhauser, praising developments such as those in Magalluf, also expressed surprise that shops in Palma's centre were not opening on Sundays. This was essential, he said, "if Majorca wishes to position itself as a city-break destination."

Santa Ponsa problems
On Santa Ponsa, while Andy Rawson set the scene for the annual fiestas by taking a look at events surrounding the landing of Catalan troops in 1229, a letter on Sunday struck a raw nerve. Santa Ponsa was becoming "a no-go area". Why was the behaviour of some being allowed to continue in "giving Santa Ponsa such a bad name".

On Tuesday, Ian Rice, who had previously had an open letter to the mayor of Calvia published in the "Bulletin" and had a swift response from the town hall, was writing again. Two months had passed since meeting council officials and he had heard no more. He referred to times (the year 2000) when there were flights from numerous British airports in the winter, but now there was only a handful from the south of England. "Why does Calvia close for the winter when the majority of Spanish resorts are open?" was one of a new set of questions for Calvia's mayor who, for the opening address at the Santa Ponsa fiestas, spoke of the need for a "common project" for everyone.