Cala Millor, far from alone in having three-star hotels. | Archive


Low costs
The week was in a way a tale of two types of low cost - the Low Cost Travel Group affair rumbled on while "low cost" hotels came under the microscope. Last Sunday's front page suggested that the end was nigh for the cheap end of the hotel market on the island. The government and hotelier associations were wishing to "eradicate" hotels which bring in, as one hotelier representative put it, "a genuine rabble".

Amidst a flurry of comment, there was a defence of the lower end of the market: "What a snotty attitude to deride lower income groups"; "The tourism plan should encompass varying levels of hotel accommodation as not everyone is wealthy enough to afford 4 and 5 star hotels". There was also a tangential opinion, one pointing to drunk Spanish students in Magalluf, another referring to drunkenness of German and Spanish teenagers in east coast resorts and Arenal. "Funny it's always Magalluf," was the ironic conclusion.

Tourism minister Biel Barceló, seemingly an advocate of "eradication", came before parliament to explain issues related to the collapse of the Low Cost Travel Group. Or rather, he explained very little. There had been "bad practice" by the online travel agency, which had, in his opinion, been speculating in trading up to the last moment. However, and as we pointed out on Friday, where were answers as to how much the government (both current and previous) actually knew about Low Cost, for which it acted as a type of guarantor in being the regulator in the Balearics and the bond holder.

Limiting tourist places
Meanwhile, a leading member of Barceló's Més party, David Abril, was returning to a theme that Barceló himself has referred to in the past. On Saturday, we reported on statements by Abril regarding the need for limits to be placed on the number of tourist places in order to prevent overcrowding and a "negative impact" on the islands. He appeared to mainly have holiday rentals in mind, given that there is no "historical ceiling" for the number of places this type of accommodation offers, unlike with hotels. One more "forceful" measure on limits, he ventured, related to the tourist tax. It wouldn't have been noticed, he suggested, had the rates introduced last month been set higher.

Yachts and cruise ships
At the luxury end of the Majorcan market, the week was characterised by the appearance of super yachts in Palma. Against the backdrop of the Copa del Rey Mapfre regatta, into the bay came ultra-expensive yachts like the Queen Miri and the Russian billionaire-owned Alfa Nero. Wednesday's cover said that Palma was having the best of both nautical worlds: "fantastic sailing vessels and the largest cruise ships in the world". But on cruise ships, the Majorca branch of Friends of the Earth was picking up on the Balearic Ports Authority's commissioning of a study by the university into cruise-ship pollution. One reader, Patrick Griffith, dismissed reports of air pollution as "absolute rubbish" and pointed instead to the polluting effects of ferries.

Crime in Magalluf
Magalluf attracted more unwelcome attention because of crime. Britons were among those arrested for peddling cocaine in and around Punta Ballena, the action by the Guardia Civil having started with the arrest of a Spaniard who was delivering two kilos of coke to the area. Two other Britons were detained and charged with having committed twenty robberies at a hotel, while a group of Senegalese nationals were picked up for having been committing robbery with violence in the streets of the resort.

Street sellers
We learned on Tuesday that eighteen police officers in Palma had been attacked by illegal street sellers. The confrontations with police and racist abuse and attacks by far-right elements in Arenal were reasons why a "union" of street sellers was in the process of being formed. Two of the sellers explained on Saturday that, though they know what they do is illegal, they do so in order to survive.