Easter and money for tourism
With the Easter holidays, things seemed rather quiet, though not where tourism was concerned. A "record Easter" said Wednesday's front cover, as hotels, the airport and even some bars and restaurants had never had a late March as good as this one. A "sunny Easter" there was, as Sunday's edition said, and it got warmer later in the week, only for things to go belly-up. Yesterday, we featured umbrellas, as the rain finally arrived in Majorca along with much lower temperatures.
When it wasn't the cash from the Easter visitors bringing joy to the tourism industry, it was money from the regional government. Yes really, the government. The tourism minister, Biel Barceló, had been walkabout in Puerto Pollensa, admiring the way in which government money was contributing to the pedestrianised re-development of the coastal road. A total of 31 million euros are being invested in the island's resorts, we reported on Sunday. This is money from a fund that was created from hotel places which hadn't been altogether legal having been legalised. It raised a question. If there was this investment available, why was there the need for a tourist tax? Well, the fund is only limited, and the latest round of investment may well exhaust it.
Residents and the tax
The tourist tax, meanwhile, continued to raise hackles and just as many questions. Many of these were answered in a Tuesday piece on what we know and don't know about the tax. And the problem is that there are still unknowns or aspects that aren't clear. One provision of the tax legislation - that Balearic residents will have to pay it if they stay in tourist accommodation on the islands - provoked some interesting observations on our website regarding the locals in other parts of Europe being exempt. Yet the reason why Balearic residents will have to pay is that EU rules say they must: it would be discrimination if they were exempt. So, how is it that in different parts of the EU such discrimination appears to exist?
One of the fiercest critics of the tourist tax is the president of the Majorca Hoteliers Federation, Inma Benito. On Friday, we reported on a Spanish TV programme which played old footage dating from a time (1998) before the eco-tax of 2002-2003. It featured a young researcher from the university who said that it would be "positive" if a tourist tax were to be introduced. It was Inma Benito.
She also observed back then that a tourist market which was "not well disposed towards a tourist tax would not be interesting for the Balearics". In essence, she was stating the case for a preference for the so-called "quality" tourist and the implication of this tourist being well-off and thus "disposed towards" paying tax. And as coincidence would have it, President Armengol was talking about quality tourists. Her words, similar to ones in the past, could be construed, as Jason Moore suggested on Friday, as "rather offensive".
Tax con artists
Of the many letters and website comments regarding the tax, there has been discussion of how little awareness there appears to be of the tax outside Majorca. Mike Lillico drew attention to this in a Friday letter by referring to the collection of the tourist tax from visitors in private accommodation and by drawing on experience of the old eco-tax. There had been cases in 2002 when tourists had refused to pay because they thought they were being conned. And they thought that because they were unaware that there was a tax.
Parking for the beach
Going back to the tourism minister's visit to Puerto Pollensa, the pedestrianisation scheme that he was checking on has raised questions about the availability of parking in summer. This was timely as there was a broader discussion about parking, especially for beaches. Is Majorca facing something of a crisis in this regard? There was evidence of this last year with problems for drivers trying to find somewhere to park near Es Trenc beach. The regional government, meanwhile, was announcing plans (as reported on Wednesday) for a reduction in the current number of parking places to serve Es Trenc and other local beaches. This is all part of the grander plan for a nature park. Opposition politician, Marga Prohens, said the following day that the parking places would be "insufficient".
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