Heartening news on an economic front, some further nonsense about the tourist tax and defence of the bull-run. Some themes of the past week in the Majorca Daily Bulletin.
The week's good cheer
There was a great deal of reason to have been of good cheer last week. Forecasts for the summer's tourism were being matched by indications of an ever-strengthening regional economy.
Thursday brought us news of an 8% increase in the sale of homes in the Balearics in January. This contrasted with a nationwide decline of 3%, the first month that there had been such a fall in well over a year. Further property information released by the national government told us on Friday that the percentage growth in property sales in the Balearics in 2015 had been the highest in the country: growth of more than 17% outstripped a national figure of 10%. Also on Friday, we reported that retail sales in the Balearics rose by more than four per cent, as also had employment. On both indicators the Balearics was well ahead of any other region in Spain.
We know that instability in other Mediterranean destinations is contributing to forecasts of more records being shattered this summer. It may be a case of enjoying it while it lasts, though who is to say that the instability will not endure? On Sunday, there was news of records to be smashed in terms of passenger numbers at the three Balearic airports, while on Wednesday there was a report of an increase in hotel jobs by as many as 6,000. At the Berlin ITB travel fair there was confirmation, given on Thursday, of the record season to come, with German tourist numbers set to rise by some 7%.
Questions over the summer's tourism
Tempering this positive tourism news were certain questions. On the jobs' front, what sort of jobs would they be? What sort of contracts would they involve? How secure would be the employment? Then there were issues to do with water supplies and sewage treatment plants. Friday's report from Berlin made clear that tour operators were concerned by both issues. President Armengol spoke with the national minister for tourism at the fair and said that a deficiency with the overall water infrastructure needed to be urgently addressed.
And of course there was also the tourist tax. Last Sunday, rather under the radar, we had picked up on talk of tax revenue being devoted to the creation of new care homes for the elderly. On Tuesday, there was a full report. The proposal may not be approved, as Podemos made clear that it opposed the use of revenue for such a purpose, arguing that care homes should be paid for under the general Balearic budget. Readers let their feelings be known, and they were not supportive of the idea. Ron Forbes on the website found it odd to be agreeing with the leader of Podemos, Alberto Jarabo, in referring to "this disgraceful proposed tourist tax ... being used to fund the retirement of Majorcan pensioners". But the proposal was also attracting support. The Wednesday Blog referred to an online poll conducted by a local Spanish paper in which 71% of readers were in favour.
Bullfighting is likely to be banned in the Balearics in the next couple of months, as also will the "correbou" bull-run in Fornalutx. Last Sunday, we noted that PSOE councillors at the town hall were "outraged" by this probability and were considering leaving the party (PSOE at regional government level backs the ban). The Council of Majorca, as reported yesterday, gave short shrift to a Partido Popular motion calling for an exemption for the bull-run. Meanwhile, with the ban due to mean that its summer fiestas' bullfight will be prevented, Muro ("the most defiant of Majorca's municipalities when it comes to bullfighting") announced that there is to be a bullfight on 2 April, something that has not happened before.
The police were unfortunately being kept busy last week. There was news of a major operation by the National Police drugs and organised crime squad against the manufacture, sale and distribution of illegal anabolic steroids on the island (with the drugs being exported to the mainland and parts of the European Union). A laboratory was found, and among those detained was the president of the Balearic division of the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness.
And then there was the tragic news of the death of 18-year-old Victoria Sard, who had apparently been strangled by her 22-year-old boyfriend. It was the second case of the death of a woman in Majorca this year, resulting from alleged gender violence.
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