Terrorism and the dreaded what if question
It was a week which was overshadowed by events elsewhere. The Brussels terrorist atrocity filled the front page on two successive days. It naturally served as a reminder that an attack can happen pretty much anywhere and raised a dreaded what if. M. Irving in a letter on Wednesday said that if anything were to happen at a Balearic airport it would spell disaster. The argument was made that tourist tax revenue should go on extra airport security measures and not on "fancy ideas".
It may have been a coincidence or it may have been deliberate timing. Either way, a Thursday report, in light of Brussels, seemed rather worrying. The National Police Union in the Balearics was drawing attention to the "alarming" absence of National Police officers on the islands. There was no mention of terrorism, which suggested that it may have been a coincidence, but the union was warning that "one of the worst" summer seasons for security was heading our way because of the claims of the police being underpowered. Whatever deficiencies there may or may not be, we were able to report that police measures had been stepped up, with ports and airports being given strengthened attention.
Tourist tax approved
The big story here in Majorca was one we knew was on the way. Indeed, on Tuesday we said that the tourist tax was to be approved by parliament, and the next day we confirmed it. The legislative process to introduce the tax had not been plain sailing, as a PSOE member of parliament observed. It had been delivered after a "labour with some pain". Other representatives of the government parties were congratulating themselves on the tax having been approved, while opposition parties, notably the Partido Popular, were not offering their congratulations. The PP's Marga Prohens dismissed the tax as being merely a way to "balance the government's accounts".
The tourism ministry, meanwhile, was announcing its annual plans for cracking down on illegal business. For once, it wasn't making a particular noise about holiday rentals, concentrating more on dealing with all-inclusive (AI) hotels. We learned yesterday that AI is to be "a prime target" for ministry inspectors, that which hasn't been registered as a form of board offer with the ministry and which has to have been registered since a decree saying so was issued almost a year ago. Any AI hotels not on the register can anticipate a visit from the inspectors, who will be particularly keen to learn about their quality standards and any possible overcrowding by putting too many guests into a room.
But the inspectors are going to be hard-pressed. There are only fifteen of them, and on Thursday we learned that these inspectors are currently in dispute with their employer, i.e. the ministry. It's all to do with petrol money. This hasn't been increased since 2004 and now it is to be subject to income tax. For the time being, the inspectors are only working from their ministry offices.
Majorca booked out
Last Sunday we announced that Majorca will be "near bursting point" because of tourist demand this season, and with Easter here we said on Thursday that this will be the "busiest and longest season in decades". Certain resorts - Alcudia and Paguera, for example - are said to already be almost sold out for the season, while the plus 50% of hotels that are open this Easter will be 100% by 1 May, the date taken as the official start of the season but one that may need to be revised if this level of demand continues and the season starts that much earlier.
Bus travellers were being warned yesterday that from May (in all likelihood) they will have to wear a top and that they will only be able to drink still water on buses (they won't be able to eat either). In a different type of vehicle story from last Sunday, visitors to Cala Millor this summer found out that certain "tourist vehicles" will be subject to restrictions. These will limit when and where the likes of trikes, Segways and what have you can be used, with a "curfew" likely to be imposed from 7pm in the evenings, which is the time from when the promenade and nearby streets are at their busiest with pedestrians.
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