Tourism minister Biel Barceló launched the sustainable tourism campaign.

10-08-2016CAIB

Brexit fears and assurances
It was Brexit week in the Bulletin. Several weeks on from THAT referendum, the serenity of high summer was interrupted by reminders of uncertain times ahead for Britons affected and indeed for the nationals of other countries, obviously including Spain's.

Last Sunday, we front-paged with the announcement of an association formed in Malaga for "British citizens in Spain who fear that they will be heavily hit by the pullout from the European Union". The association is called "Brexpats", which thus undermined somewhat an editorial guideline not to use the "expat" word. It's hard not to at times.

By Wednesday, and signalling an in-depth interview, it was Balearic MEP Rosa Estaràs saying that Britons living in Spain "need not fear for their post-Brexit futures". She was swiftly followed by the British ambassador, who was in town (Palma) for an interview. Simon Manley said on Thursday that the British government is doing all it can to protect the best interests of Britons living in Spain and across Europe. Which was reassuring of him. The following day, and in greater detail, it was the ambassador again, talking not only about Brexit but also terrorism and the loss of passports. Referring to arrangements for health care in a post-Brexit environment, the use of "free" to describe health care in Spain for registered British residents caused some dispute among you.


Tourist numbers
Although hot summer days and balmy summer nights should permit an August serenity, things were far from serene in tourism terms. Majorca, we were being given the impression, was so inundated with tourists, there was barely room on the beaches let alone in hotels or on the roads. Tourism minister Biel Barceló was insisting that Majorca and the Balearics couldn't take any more tourists. As part of an awareness campaign regarding "sustainable tourism", Barceló was raising once more the issue of limits on numbers. The timing, as we observed, was no coincidence. Barceló was speaking on 10 August, a year to the day when the Balearics registered its highest ever total population: it topped the two million mark for the first time last year, and is almost certain to have done so again this year.

Responses came from business associations and unions, who were of the opinion that placing limits was not a solution: sustainability, quality and lengthening of the season are solutions, whatever any of them might actually entail. And the at times vague talk of sustainability was latched on to by environmentalists GOB. It was taking issue with Barceló and the government over tourism policies. "Outrageous propaganda," GOB suggested, and members posed in front of the tourism ministry to parody these policies. Majorca was for rent was one theme.

The great numbers of tourists had led, we learned on Thursday, to equally great numbers of hire cars having been brought on to the island. Many of them, however, were parked on their vast lots in Palma and not going anywhere. There was too much supply, and this was driving prices down, much to the chagrin of the president of the car-hire agencies' association. Oddly enough, he had said not so long ago that it would be difficult to find an available car from 8 August.


Illegal sellers
A Humphrey Carter viewpoint ("Happy Hawkers") observed that local police in Palma were paying little attention to hordes of illegal street sellers. You agreed that there was and is a lack of intervention. It isn't only in Palma of course. "It is out of control in all of the island" was one comment. "They are out of control across the island and will continue to spiral every year" was another. And E. McGhee, having been holidaying in Puerto Pollensa, queried the "farcical nonsense that is the police response to the traders".


Fires, boats and royals
Otherwise last week there was a spate of forest and bush fires, none of them thankfully that serious, the Guardia Civil released dramatic photos of its operation for party-boat inspections, the King and Queen held a reception for Balearic "society" at the Almudaina Palace, and one of the King's sisters, Elena, was in bother for having taken her daughter Victoria to the bullfight in Palma. Victoria is not yet 16. Balearic law does not permit under-16s to attend bullfights.

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