10-08-2015J.F. Ortega

Brexit, legal challenge and ABTA
Brexit and the EU referendum have rapidly joined the ranks of familiar news friends to readers of the Bulletin together with demands for British foreign residents who left British shores more than fifteen years ago to be able to vote in what could be something that has a direct impact on them. "Battle for the vote" announced Tuesday's front page, followed by "British government comes under pressure over expat voting rights" on Thursday. A legal challenge in the High Court could see the British government having to fast track legislation to permit those over the 15-year limit to have their say. Meanwhile, ABTA was assessing the impact of a UK exit on the travel industry. "A vote to leave will lead to uncertainties and may lead to increased costs for travel businesses and the travelling public." Other voices, e.g. that of Monarch's, were reported on Tuesday as being more certain on costs: Brexit will "inevitably lead" to increased costs.

1 July date for the tourist tax
If Brexit is a newcomer to the news, then the tourist tax is not. On Thursday, we learned that the tax will come into effect on 1 July, albeit that the final stage of approval - by the full session of parliament - has yet to be given: it may well be this coming Tuesday. Out of the equation, unless there is a change of heart, will be tax revenue to be used for social purposes such as care homes for the elderly: Podemos and the Partido Popular vetoed this at parliament's finance committee. The tax was, according to the PP, and as noted on Friday, a "hodge-podge" that will lead to municipalities "lobbying to get their fingers in the pie".

Easter tourism
With Easter fast approaching, we were able to report on Thursday that half of Majorca's hotels were already open last week. The hoteliers federation was indicating that there will be 70% occupancy of hotels which are open. Which sounded good but not as good as the situation in the Canary Islands. Friday brought news of there being over 90% occupancy in those islands, both hotels and non-hotel accommodation. It is proving difficult to find accommodation in the Canaries, but the leaders of the UK and Germany had no problems. David Cameron and Angela Merkel had snubbed the Balearics in favour of the Canaries for their Easter breaks we learned yesterday.

Postal services and wax
A couple of less familiar issues arose. One was the news that the Correos (the post office) is in the process of stopping home delivery mail services in parts of Calvia. The "last post" suggested Sunday's front page. The town hall was riding to the rescue we were told. It is considering taking the matter to the National Competition Commission if it has to. Peter Newey, a resident of one of the affected parts - Costa de la Calma - wrote a stinging letter on the same day, condemning the move as "so third world".

In Palma, meanwhile, there was a fuss over candle wax. So unfamiliar was this tale in fact that it might not have been out of place on 1 April. Wednesday's report explained that the town hall had been wanting the brotherhoods who hold Easter processions to have specific clauses in their insurance policies to cover any accidents resulting from dripping wax. The insurance companies said this was impossible. Talks are being held to come to a solution for next year. The processions this year will continue, we were being assured, with "complete normality".

British bobbies
On Tuesday, various leading politicians in the tourism world gathered at the Bulletin offices with the British ambassador and consul general. Up popped one or two previous themes, the British bobbies for one. Calvia and the regional government would like there to be more than the two there were last year and for them to stay longer than the week that they did in Magalluf. Tourism wasn't all that was discussed. There was a good deal about integration. All parties agreed that British expatriates should integrate with the local community more.

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