07-02-2016Toni Escobar

A record for the Bulletin, holidays selling out, flight fares going through the roof: just some of the stories over the past seven days.

The stampede for holidays
It was official, insofar, one guesses, that an announcement from ABTA can be deemed official. But it certainly had an impact. Wednesday's main report, in which it was being suggested that Spain could be sold out by the end of the month, triggered massive interest via our website, which carries selected reports from the paper edition (plus ones that are unique to the website). By Saturday morning, the report in question had attracted 44,000 visits, a staggering number, and one brought about through the power of social media: shares and re-shares through Facebook in particular.

ABTA, the report said, was looking to ease fears and calm the stampede for holidays. Judging by the level of interest in the report - a stampede of a different type - the opposite may have been occurring. And on top of this came Friday's report which highlighted the soaring cost of flights, with Majorca in such high demand this summer. The airlines were "filling their boots", a source told us. The advice to book as soon as possible had led one of our readers to suggest that this would be another reason for them to put the price of air fares up, and she was to be proven to have been absolutely right. Greed was the interpretation of another reader.


The hoteliers' tax generosity
Prior to this, the news had broken of the Majorca Hoteliers Federation's announcement that hotels would bear the cost of the tourist tax this summer. As the story was to pan out over the week, it wasn't quite as straightforward as this, while the Tuesday report which suggested that the hoteliers had made the announcement in order to ensure summer bookings seemed at variance with the "stampede" that ABTA was wishing to calm. By Friday we were suggesting that it had been an announcement designed to catch some politicians on the hop at a time when they were debating the tourist tax legislation in parliament. Was it also a case of further confusing an already confused message being sent out to tourists? Some tourists wouldn't need to pay because the tax would be paid on their behalf, while others would have to. At the back of all this, we concluded, was the hoteliers' wishes to delay the tax's introduction until 2017 precisely because of all the confusion.


Alarm from a training flight
While the cost of flights was causing some alarm, one particular flight over Palma caused alarm of a different type. We were inundated with calls expressing concerns about a low-flying Boeing 777 over the city. It turned out to be a training flight to familiarise pilots from the airline Swiss with the plane. It was operating out of Palma airport, and the airports authority, Aena, said that test flights such as these were quite common for the airport. Besides concerned residents, the town halls of Palma and Marratxi voiced protests because of the noise. On Thursday, we reported that the flights would cease, the airport's director having taken measures to avoid a repeat of the alarm that had been caused.


Cleaning up Calvia
It was one of those reports that even as it was being compiled suggested a certain type of reader reaction, and there was. An agreement between the hoteliers in Paguera and the town hall in Calvia under which tourists assist in beach cleaning and environmental conservation led one reader to suggest they must be mad. Not only is there going to be an eco-tax, tourists were being asked to clean up without pay. In fact this scheme has been operating in Calvia for several years as part of the winter tourism programme (yes, we know, before you start asking which one), and one reader came to the defence of the scheme: "advertise it correctly and you will never be short of volunteers."

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