Majorca goes to London
The travel industry and Majorca's politicians and tourism businesspeople headed off to London for the World Travel Market. When they arrived, they were greeted with the Bulletin's special supplement for the fair, and it received praise from many quarters. Despite the fact that this was the chance for Majorca and the Balearics to shine, there was on Sunday, when the supplement was published locally, a note of caution: the regional government's budget for tourism was down, though there was an attempt to make it appear as if it had gone up.
Once they had all gathered in London, the government let a bombshell out of the bag. On Tuesday, we reported that Madrid was to pull "the plug on millions of investment". Specifically, this was 63 million euros of state investment for Playa de Palma which hadn't been claimed and had expired. The regional government was seeking to extend the period to claim the investment, but Madrid was having none of it. This issue seemed to dominate the political landscape at the fair more than others: perhaps it had all been done to take attention away from other matters.
Cycling and food
When they were concentrating on tourism, the politicians were able to draw on the assistance of Sir Bradley Wiggins in promoting sport and especially cycling tourism. Wiggins spoke of his affection for Majorca and confirmed that his team will be here on the island to train and to compete in the Challenge Ciclista a Mallorca at the end of January. Sport was one of the key themes for promotion. Another one was gastronomy. On Thursday, we reported that the specialist British media and others had been invited to a gastronomy event in Canary Wharf. Unfortunately for the Balearics, we also reported that Catalonia had stolen much of the islands' thunder by announcing that 2016 would be that region's year of gastronomy and wine tourism.
A "normal" tax
On the tourist tax, Biel Barceló, the tourism minister, announced at the fair that it would come into effect on 1 May. As we were to note over the days of the fair, the tax didn't seem to be playing on attendees' minds too greatly. We observed on Friday that the UK media had seemed more interested in developments in Magalluf, while also on Friday, it became clear why there was such apparent lack of interest - according to Barceló at any rate. Tour operators, he said, consider such a tax to be "normal". This was at variance with some comments on our website which took exception to his implication, expressed at the fair, that for UK tourists, benefiting from the exchange rate, the tax would be "like small change". His downplaying of the tax was something that the hoteliers took exception to as well: it was an "assault" on their industry.
Life in Bulletin land was even more hectic than usual last week, with Jason Moore in London to cover the World Travel Market and returning in time for yesterday's Golf Cup in Andratx. As a consequence, there were two supplements during the week - one for the travel fair and one for the golf. But amidst all this came the sad news that Simon Peters had died, Humphrey Carter announcing this on Thursday and commenting on Simon's great efforts for Help For Heroes and saying that "his passing will leave a large hole in the local community". On Saturday, a great friend, Frank Leavers, paid tribute to someone who was "kind, generous, self-effacing and one of those rare people who never have a bad word to say about anyone". RIP.