Minister Barceló explaining the tourist tax.

25-09-2015Warwick Upton

That tax was once more a feature of the week, as were the hardy perennials of the weather and dog mess, while a somewhat unexpected twist on the summer rentals story loomed into view.


Paying for the love of the Balearics
The tourism minister, Biel Barceló, had been keen to be interviewed for the "Bulletin". He appreciates the huge contribution of the British market to Balearic tourism, but he has a message to sell, and a difficult one at that. The tourist tax, he said, would be "a small price to pay", one that he put at 1.7% of the total cost of a holiday (by which he surely meant the cost of accommodation). Responding to Jason Moore's question that readers of the "Bulletin" are not impressed by the idea of the tax, he said: "help us make the islands that they love a better place and at the same time guarantee that the natural beauty of the Balearics is safeguarded". It was an explanation that we were to dub "romantic", if the minister believed tourists were so in love with the islands that they would be willing to pay the tax.

It was the continuing lack of clarity regarding the tax that was the main deficiency in Barceló's answers. 1.7% was vague, though with greater clarity, this might not, in the end, prove to be that taxing, so to speak. There was at least some good news in that children will not be charged, while there will be a cap on the number of nights for which the tax will be applicable.


Not everything has improved in Magalluf
Barceló also spoke about issues to do with Magalluf, observing that new laws on behaviour and drinking were "making Magalluf a much better place". There is, however, the other side of the coin. Liz Dobson, a consistent critic of problems in the resort, was not responding to the Barceló interview but to a previous news item regarding the visit of the British Vice-Consul to Calvia when, in a letter on Tuesday, she picked up on the theme of the prostitutes, who are still a real blight. Liz considered the attitude of the Guardia Civil, "depending on who was on duty", to be unhelpful when victims sought to report muggings, while she also highlighted the issues of drinks being spiked and credit-card scams. It was a reminder that, for all the gains that have been made, there remain serious matters to be addressed.


Dogs and what dogs do
It felt pretty much like old times when John, Pollensa wrote in on Wednesday to warn of the dangers of dog mess in Puerto Pollensa, worrying that the "planned pedestrian area along the beach front ... will be paradise for dog walkers, and the problem of poo will escalate".

It has sometimes seemed as if Puerto Pollensa has been singled out for the poo problem, but Spencer Runcad, writing on Friday, applied some balance. "I have recently purchased a holiday property in Portals Nous, not realising I was locating to the dog poo capital of Majorca."

If there was any mess lying around, it may well have been washed away by the rain that fell in huge quantities in the week. Up in the mountains in Escorca, as we reported on Friday, over 100 litres per square metre of rain fell. And then there were the winds: "hurricane force" in battering the Puig d'Alfaiba with 122 kilometres per hour. They didn't have to reach such levels in leaving damage elsewhere, while the turbulence of the sea was such that large parts of beaches temporarily disappeared.


The "Venezuelan" property rental tax
Somewhat under the radar came the news that the regional government was planning to introduce tax penalties for owners of properties that they only rent out in the summer (and bonuses for those who rent them all-year round). The minister for land, Joan Boned, said that this was a measure to tackle a lack of supply of housing to meet demand. It was not something with which we necessarily agreed, suggesting that the measure appeared "draconian". Natalia Prieto of the UPyD party criticised the proposal, describing it as "Venezuelan".

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