A former president of the Balearics in the dock, continuing anxieties as to water supplies, the inevitable and ongoing rumpus over the tourist tax and winter tourism: all of a sudden it had arrived.
Matas and his guilt
Finally, the trial involving Princess Cristina got down to the nitty-gritty. The accused were to be questioned. Among them was the former president of the Balearics, Jaume Matas. With others among the accused seeking to pin all the blame on him for matters related to the princess's husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, and his one-time institute, Nóos, Matas came out fighting but also appearing to be somewhat repentant. "I accept my responsibility because I gave the order to take on that project (one by which the Balearic government had sponsored the Banesto cycling team), and I assume my guilt because Balearic taxpayers' money was not spent on what it should have been spent." His contrition, as was noted in Friday's report of court proceedings, seemed to have at least something to do with an apparent deal struck with the prosecution.
What had been "water woes" on Sunday had become a "warning over water" by Wednesday. The reservoirs and aquifers have been victims of the lack of rain, and so President Armengol told parliament on Tuesday that "there can be no guarantee of water supplies this summer". This was either a case of being very honest or being somewhat foolhardy. Such alarmist talk did not escape our attention, and Jason Moore pointed out the following day that it was attracting the attention of those elsewhere, as in northern European tourist market nations. "The last thing the island needs is bad publicity because of the water situation." Amen.
Tourist tax battles
The tourist tax arguments became increasingly fierce in that they were being reduced to ideological battles between Podemos, the government and the Partido Popular. On Tuesday, we reported Podemos spokesperson, Laura Camargo, as having described the tax as a "fraud on the citizenship". It wasn't that she was against the tax - quite the contrary - but that there was a deception in that the government seemed unwilling to make it a pure eco-tax, i.e. one devoted to environmental issues and these alone. As we were point out, the government, via its finance minister, had stated explicitly that there would be no repeat of the eco-tax, while our analysis of the political battles led to the conclusion that it was Podemos who were calling the shots. Indeed, the government, both President Armengol and Vice-President Barceló, were conspicuous by their relative silence on the matter.
Palma and its bylaw
In Palma, there was tremendous confusion. The Palacio de Congresos convention centre was one thing, the town hall's civic ordinance quite another. A court ruling meant that this bylaw was void (the previous town hall administration had exceeded its powers). What was this going to mean, therefore, for all the provisions it contained: anything from illegal street selling to street-drinking parties to the non-wearing of tops away from the front line (what was dubbed the "bikini law" when the ordinance was introduced in 2014)? Some clarity as such was available by Thursday. A previous bylaw, one specifically for street drinking was to be reactivated and "special intervention areas" established, such as the whole of Playa de Palma. This means that there is a ban. How well it's enforced is another thing. As for the other provisions under the ordinance, there was no clarity.
Jet2 raising spirits
Amidst the water woes and the trials of the Nóos accused, there was - mercifully - a feelgood story, and it came courtesy of Jet2. We offered the visitors on the first city-break flight from Manchester a warm welcome with our Thursday issue, and evidence of this was there to be seen on Friday. Of course no one was suggesting that the tourists with Jet2 were the first winter tourists, but the flight was hugely significant in that it represented what can be hoped will be a growing trend for the UK to supply more winter tourists. There hadn't been such a city-break package before Jet2 created it. Now that there was, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Just as an example, the president of the hoteliers' association in Palma was quoted yesterday: "It represents a turning point for the British market." Someone had to get the ball rolling, and Jet2 did so with some fanfare. Here's to more of it.
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