The tourism minister, Biel Barceló, today strongly rejected claims that the Balearic government had not condemned the anti-tourist graffiti in Palma. Responding in parliament to the Partido Popular's tourism spokesperson, Alvaro Gijón, Barceló stated the government had clearly expressed its condemnation.
Gijón further accused the government of having spent almost a year speaking ill of tourism. "Bad mouthing tourism will achieve absolutely nothing." Barceló replied that since the graffiti appeared the government has been in contact with local British and German newspapers - two German and one British (the Majorca Daily Bulletin) - while it has had "numerous interviews" with British and German television and national Spanish broadcasters. In all these, he said, the government has given appropriate explanations.
"It cannot be said that we have not done anything. You (Gijón) don't know. We have being giving explanations from the word go."
On another issue - tourism seasonality - the minister said that the government was working on tackling this issue on each of the islands in order to ensure that the region can continue to live from tourism in the future.
He pointed to the increased number of tourists in the first quarter of 2016 but observed that having a model of tourism "without limits" is to have an "anti-model". He also mentioned the School of Hostelry and nautical industry training, both of which, he said, will have been improved by the end of this current administration (in 2019) from what was inherited when it took office.
The weight of numbers of cruise-ship passengers was also an issue raised in parliament. Biel Barceló said that the government was working with the Balearic Ports Authority (APB) and the town hall to avoid overcrowding in the city centre that these numbers can cause.
As has previously been reported, alternative starting-points for sightseeing cruise passengers are being proposed to alleviate the strain of so many passengers coming from one point - the Moll Vell. Barceló confirmed that this these alternatives are being analysed. He noted that, although there are certainly a great number of passengers who come into the city centre, many others do not, as they go on excursions to different parts of the island.
David Martínez of Podemos wanted to know what measures the government will take against the "environmental contamination" and human overcrowding that cruise ship arrivals cause. Martínez compared this situation with that in Barcelona, where the council is considering its own actions.
Barceló pointed out that the Balearic government has no powers of control because the port in Palma is operated by the APB, a national agency. Nevertheless, the government has asked the APB what environmental controls it is bringing in for waste treatment, energy supply and water quality control.
This debate arose on a day when the port, from 2pm today, broke the record for the most number of cruise ships in port at the same time: eight of them, with some 22,000 passengers.
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