Hoteliers in court
The Balearic High Court agreed to the Majorca Hoteliers Federation's appeal for legal review of the tourist tax law. The court didn't reveal the grounds for its decision, just as the federation has not disclosed what it believes to be the justification for the challenge. All that the federation's president, Inma Benito, had to say was: "We are convinced that we will succeed because we have sufficient grounds to believe that the whole decree has a number of weaknesses."
Some of the reaction was as would have been expected. Podemos said that the hoteliers have an "allergy" to taxes, a reference not just to the tourist tax but also to the Panama Papers: certain leading names in the Majorcan hotel industry were mentioned in the leaks. Podemos added that they would support the government in passing any "emergency" decree that might be deemed necessary to support the original tax decree. As no one knew the grounds for the appeal, however, such emergency action would at present appear unlikely.
Airbnb versus protesters and the hoteliers
Leading Majorcan hoteliers are members of Exceltur, the "alliance for touristic excellence". Senior representatives from Exceltur met tourism minister Biel Barceló and presented findings of a study which showed that 70% of owners of holiday lets in Majorca have more than one property. They went on to suggest that the "collaborative economy", typified by accommodation websites such as Airbnb, had become a thriving submerged economy. Barceló said that the government was aware of there being owners with anything up to fifty properties.
Airbnb and other such websites were very much in focus. In the context of all the arguments regarding tourist saturation and the increasing difficulties faced by those seeking long-term accommodation, we wondered if these sites were the real "scourge". And then there was more news of anti-Airbnb protests in Barcelona. Apartments occupied, the protesters have been making precisely the same point as Exceltur has about multiple holiday rental ownership. It seemed like a rather curious alliance of opinion between the touristic "alliance" and protesters.
There was a protest in Palma that wasn't actually a protest. A good deal of comment was provoked by an "anti-tourist route", in effect a guided tour (an oddity in itself it might be thought), which had been arranged by activists as part of two days of discussion of saturation in the city. "Where can we go to avoid the saturation of activists?" was just one.
The police in court
The courts were also busy in dealing with the police. Sentences were confirmed for four Palma officers who had subjected a prisoner to a kicking (by one of them; the others did nothing to intervene). In fact, the officer who did the kicking had his sentence reduced by three months, but otherwise the previous tariffs applied. This particular officer had been employed on an interim basis in Pollensa. The town hall there and Palma town hall both acted in formally dismissing all the officers concerned.
The ice-cream kiosk
Pollensa town hall was at the heart of a story which for those of you who do not live in Puerto Pollensa or take holidays there might seem rather over the top. The eviction of Gelats Valls ice-cream kiosk was finally ordered by the mayor, who was facing a charge of abuse of power. It's a story which has been characterised by a great deal of emotion: small family business that has been there for years being brought down by a large business - this type of thing. But readers offered some perspective. The Valls company is "not exactly tiny"; the land where the kiosk is "has, by law, to be put out to tender".
Something that the courts will not have to concern themselves with are any criminal cases for prostitution sought by Calvia town hall. The Balearic Provincial Court had already ruled that action through the courts was "disproportionate". Calvia took the decision to scrap any such future action, leaving many to wonder exactly how it proposes to deal with what the Partido Popular in Calvia described as the "hell" of the muggings and violence committed by women who are often the victims of exploitation and human trafficking.
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