"Saturation" in Palma, but was it Palma that was the justification for the talk of saturation?

16-08-2016P. Lozano

Saturated Majorca
The past week was one when saturation saturated the column inches. Tourist saturation, referred to otherwise as overcrowding or just too many people (plus too many cars, too many cruise ships, etc.), was theme of the week. We had the tourism minister Biel Barceló to thank for this. On Tuesday he was explaining how saturation (the presumption is that there is saturation) will be analysed and studied by the University of the Balearic Islands. This was all part of a theme of the year (and years past and to come) - tourism sustainability.

If this was taken to mean that there will be limits placed on the number of tourists, the minister explained (by Saturday) that it will not be possible to limit the number of tourists coming to Majorca but that it will be possible to limit the number of tourist places, as in the amount of accommodation available. This will be achieved when the government introduces legislation for holiday rentals and implements it some time next year. Barceló then added that next summer will be much like this summer. And that's because of problems in Turkey and elsewhere.

The masterplan for tourism sustainability and an end to saturation will also include somehow shifting tourists who come in summer to winter. The director of the Balearic Tourism Agency, Pere Muñoz, did at least concede that this "would not be easy".

We weren't wholly convinced by all of this, suggesting (Wednesday) that saturation was as much a state of mind as a physical reality - perhaps more so - and adding (Friday) that talk of saturation was largely an exercise in propaganda dreamt up by the "Palmarati" and because of political motives. While Palma's apparent saturation may exist, there is less evidence to support the saturation theory in resorts about which the Palmarati know little.

And quite astonishingly, given that cruise passengers are supposedly the source of much of Palma's saturation, we learned on Wednesday that passenger numbers for the year to the end of June were in fact down on 2015.


Car-rental abuses
The tourism minister, meanwhile, explained that there are likely to be separate strands to new legislation, one of which will deal with car rental - one of a batch of "contentious" issues along with the likes of all-inclusives.

Somewhat pre-empting this, the government's consumer affairs department was informing us on Thursday about its campaign against "abusive practices" in the car-rental sector. These practices are ones with which many readers will be familiar, and they are not wholly unique to Majorca. One of you spoke from direct experience of working for a car-rental agency in highlighting the nature of the abuse: monthly bonuses would be added to by "finding" as much damage as possible on a returned car.


Problems persisting in Magalluf
In the week's Magalluf news, we found out on Tuesday that residents in the resort do not believe that the resort is changing for the better. Indeed, a second Punta Ballena is being established. It has been evident that there is a good deal of difference between what the town hall says and what others say regarding Magalluf. The opposition Partido Popular (to be expected perhaps) and the Acotur tourist businesses' association were both reported yesterday as saying that a great deal more needs to be done to tackle issues such as illegal street selling. Problems persist despite the various bylaws that have been introduced.


Murder and fires
From elsewhere in Calvia - Costa de la Calma - came the week's most serious news. The shooting dead of Irishman Trevor O'Neill dominated Friday's issue. Whether Mr O'Neill was involved in gangland crime and gangs' feuding or not, the shooting dead of anyone in a tourist resort was a shocking event.

In a different criminal sense, investigators were drawing the conclusion that one of the worst forest fires of the summer - between Son Serra de Marina and Colonia Sant Pere - was deliberate. It may not have been a coincidence, therefore, that there was a less damaging fire in exactly the same area the day before.

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