Gorg Blau, one of the two giant reservoirs in the Tramuntana. This was how it looked at the start of this year. | Archive


So little water
Majorca's drought got worse last week - or at least reports of the drought said it had got worse. There were 27 municipalities out of 53 on drought alert; only the very east of the island did not have a municipality on alert. The government suggested that it would be looking at measures by which responsible use of water would be rewarded and excessive use penalised. One means for doing this would be through progressive tariffs.

The environmental pressure group GOB responded to this by saying that it wasn't enough for the government to be thinking of playing around with the tariffs and having voluntary measures. It was demanding tougher action, and it had the tourism sector in mind as well as the likes of golf courses. Once more, it was the abundance of tourists on the island who were coming into the line of fire, something that Jason Moore picked up on: "There is a shortage of water thanks to the lack of rain not because of the tourist industry."

Ever more saturation and sustainability
The ongoing discussion of tourist saturation and so therefore sustainability featured in statements from the association for holiday rentals, Aptur. Having made a claim as to the level of GDP generated by private holiday accommodation, its president, Juan Estarellas, argued that residential tourism was not the cause of tourist saturation, saying that there should be improvements to roads, water supplies and public transport. He had a point, though we observed that he was being somewhat simplistic.

Meanwhile, the government - and specifically the tourism ministry - was announcing the first winners of its new tourism awards. Among them was the Soller train, but what came across from the announcement was that here were businesses, organisations and initiatives that corresponded with how the government intends spending tourist tax revenue. Accordingly, for example, the Council of Formentera is to receive an award for an initiative for recovering the countryside through a fund for farming.

Doing away with tourism promotion
With tourism being cast by some as the demon, Podemos had its further say. Tourism promotion should be scrapped. What exactly did Podemos mean by this? There is precious little promotion as it is, and what there is focuses on events for the tourism and travel industry: the various fairs, conferences and so on plus organised trips for journalists and others.

A good deal of this is directed at tourist products which are alternatives to sun and beach, the principal cause, one has to take it, for so-called saturation. These alternatives include culture and gastronomy, niches for the low rather than high season. Was Podemos wanting this promotion to go? One of its partners in the "pact" for government, PSOE, responded by saying that getting rid of promotion was not an option. The Podemos stance was frankly a nonsense, given all the free publicity that is generated through social networks, little of it having anything to do with official tourism authorities on the island.

Fraudulent compensation claims
Tourism does have an unacceptable face when it comes to the unscrupulous. Two weeks after we had highlighted holiday compensation claims scams going on in Tenerife, a UK law firm cited for this in the Canaries was listed along with seven others from roughly the same area in north-west England which have been operating in Majorca. They target all-inclusives at the low end of the market and with high numbers of guests. Their "representatives" encourage guests to make fraudulent claims for food poisoning, and these claims can very often succeed, much to the detriment of the hotels concerned. In Tenerife there is a "claims clinic" ambulance on the streets. It publicises an 0800 number to call with the legend "Claim today - ask for details".