Autumn days in Majorca, but it'll still be getting dark early, despite the call for summertime to be retained. | Xesca Serra


Staying on summertime
Time came to the top of the agenda last week. The Balearic parliament issued an "institutional declaration" calling on the national government to allow the Balearics to remain on summertime and not have to turn the clocks back in autumn. This wasn't about to come into effect this weekend, but the news of the declaration nevertheless had some thinking that it might. The national government pointed out that there is a European directive governing time, so if there is to be a shift to summertime - and there are good arguments in favour of doing so, not least a benefit for tourism - it will require more than a parliamentary declaration. Meanwhile, Valencia added its weight to the argument by calling for the retention of summertime for that region.

Impact of the tourist tax
Valencia was also in the news because its regional government had ruled out a tourist tax, for the time being at any rate. Here, research from the University of the Balearic Islands suggested that the tourist tax will mean at most a one per cent reduction in the number of overnight stays by tourists. The research was conducted using an econometric model, which was perhaps rather more scientific than the survey of 500 tourists that the Gadeso foundation had conducted. This found that two per cent of tourists will definitely not be returning because of the tourist tax. Extrapolating from this finding, as we pointed out on Friday, there would be some 250,000 fewer tourists, though this number could be greater as 15% of those surveyed said that there was a possibility that they won't be returning.

The price of holidays
The university's researchers had used previous studies of price elasticity in the tourism market, implying in their conclusions that price is inelastic, meaning that increases in price have relatively little effect on demand. However, we reflected on price increases as they are affecting the UK market for next year, noting that UK tour operators, seeking lower hotel prices, had in effect been told to get stuffed - in Palmanova and Magalluf, if not everywhere else.  
We have previously drawn attention to specific examples of much higher prices for next summer that are being demanded by UK tour operators, and one of you last week pointed out that a 400 pound increase for the same holiday in 2017 on top of a bad exchange rate and the tourist tax will mean no Majorca holiday next year.

Policing the resorts
With the main tourism season drawing to an end, it was time for there to be some observations about the season. Palma's mayor, José Hila, was able to announce successes that the local police had. There were, for example, 780 more interventions against illegal selling than in 2015, with Playa de Palma having been one of four principal areas of police operations during the summer. Yesterday, however, we reported that illegal selling was "out of control" in the resort. The residents association was complaining about the selling as well as noise, drinking and drug-taking. It concluded that this was due to a lack of police and issues that have surrounded the force since the corruption scandal blew up.

In Calvia, the Guardia Civil was able to report that it had attended to almost 8,000 tourists at its two tourist service offices - one in Magalluf and the other in Paguera. Successes in tackling counterfeit products and robberies were also reported, but there was no mention of the issue which concerns so many people in Magalluf - the so-called prostitutes.

Short-term job contracts
There was positive news about unemployment. The Balearics were able to boast that the region has the lowest unemployment rate anywhere in the country: it was 10.6% in the third quarter, which was well below a national figure of 18.9% (itself notable for having dropped below the 20% mark for the first time in six years). But how positive really is this, given the high level of seasonal, short-term employment? And this isn't only during the summer. Employment agency Randstad announced that Christmas period short-term contracts will be up by 17% in the Balearics.