The Majorca stand at Fitur visited by President Armengol, Vice-President Barceló and Miquel Ensenyat, the president of the Council of Majorca.

20-01-2016Twitter @iBalears

You can't keep a good (or a bad) tax down, and so it was the tourist tax as well as the problems with forming a new national government which were dominant themes of the past week.

Talking tax in Madrid
The great and good of Majorca's tourism industry decamped to Madrid last week for the Fitur travel and tourism fair. Following them were the questionably great and good of the island's political class. Prior to this latter group arriving, Mariano Rajoy (still, for now, in charge of the country) offered observations at the pre-fair forum on tourism leadership. "We cannot create obstacles or barriers for this (tourism) industry," he remarked.

While not specifically mentioning the tourist tax, it was clear that this was one of the obstacles or barriers that he had in mind. His words, as we noted later in the week, had been irresponsible, according to President Armengol, though she didn't make this criticism until she was back on firm Majorcan soil. At a Madrid press conference, she didn't reflect on the tax, leaving the subject to be addressed by Vice-President Barceló, its chief instigator. He suggested that any controversy surrounding the tax was artificial, thereby dismissing the comments of business leaders attending the fair. The father and son team at the head of Meliá Hotels International were but two to voice their criticisms: "We are going to shoot ourselves in the foot." "We consider it to be a wrong policy."

By the end of the week, the government's spokesperson, Marc Pons, was emphasising that there was no turning back with the tax, adding that it was not proving to have any negative impact on this year's holiday bookings. The line that had been coming from the tax's critics in Madrid confirmed his statement, but it came with the caveat of what there might be in the future.


Still waiting for a new government
There was activity of a more fevered nature in Madrid last week. It involved the King, who was engaged in discussions with the leaders of Spain's political parties regarding the next government of the country. President Armengol had earlier in the week offered her advice to the national leader of PSOE, Pedro Sánchez. Referring to the way in which the left-wing government in the Balearics is acting through dialogue in arriving at decisions, she was urging Sánchez to follow the Balearic model. Such advice seemed to be working. Sánchez, as suggested yesterday, was edging closer to an alliance with Podemos, the United Left and other smaller parties. Despite this, there could still be several days if not weeks of further discussion and uncertainty regarding the next government.


How many foreigners?
An annual point of discussion is the one surrounding the number of foreign residents. Each year around this time the figures for municipalities' populations (those officially registered with town halls) are released. The Balearics as a whole, we learned on Friday, had lost 938 British residents last year. The most sizable dips were in Minorca and Ibiza. Most Majorcan municipalities registered a loss, with Calvia's the greatest. But then Calvia was operating from a far higher base than other municipalities. The only significant gain was in Andratx, where 51 had been added to the town hall register.

These figures always spark off a debate as to quite how accurate they are. They may be accurate in terms of those registered, but as Jason Moore suggested there are foreigners who prefer to keep themselves hidden and so don't sign on to official registers.


Football and cycling
In the world of Majorcan sport, it was a case of another week and another coach at Real Mallorca. Following a short-lived tenure and a home defeat last weekend, out went Pepe Galvez and in came a former Mallorca coach, Fernando Vazquez, who was quick to not make any wild promises about promotion this season. He has no magic wand, he observed.

Real Mallorca could do with a touch of the successful stardust of Team Sky rubbing off on them. As is the case each winter, the team has been using Alcudia as a base, and Humphrey Carter caught up with Chris Froome for last Sunday's interview. The double Tour de France champion said nice things about Majorca - what it offers for training purposes - and said that he was fully focused on winning the Tour de France once again.

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