The debate about the present and future of tourism in Majorca and the Balearics continued last week. The new edition of the tourism yearbook highlighted any number of issues and gave some priority to the nature of employment. The main point was to question how, when there have been such high numbers of tourists and high levels of occupancy, many jobs can be for only four or five months and there is still the level of unemployment that there is.
The seasonal nature of employment and the lack of job security it brings was reflected in a report about jobs over the Christmas period. This was from the recruitment company Adecco. There will be a nine per cent rise in the number of jobs, with 3,750 available. Was this cause for celebration? Only to those who wish to work for a couple of months.
Housing and holiday rentals
There was more on how the housing market is making life difficult for workers, and not only those in the tourism industry. A Wednesday report said that there is a lack of land available to build on, which is driving prices up, leading to an absence of affordable accommodation and a potential slowing of economic recovery. Town halls were partly being blamed for creating obstacles to new building, to which the town halls' federation responded that municipalities are "bound hand and foot by regulations".
Holiday rentals, widely perceived as having brought about an accommodation crisis, were once more a focus of attention. We learned that the regional government intends making rentals' websites, such as Airbnb, charge the tourist tax from next year and to only include properties with an official registration number to verify they are legally available for holiday rent. As noted, though, such websites insist that they are just intermediaries and therefore not providers of tourist accommodation as such. In which case, why should they charge the tax? One can already hear the sound of lawyers arguing.
Meanwhile in Santa Eularia in Ibiza, the town hall is already taking its own measures to ban any tourist rentals in apartment blocks, citing "co-existence" between residents and tourists. Ibiza has acquired some powers for tourism matters, though it remains to be seen if this measure - and one that the island's council is also considering - will conflict with Balearic legislation, which is due to be in place before the start of next season.
Back to the tourism debate, and we mentioned the emergence of ever more vocal protest groups, such as Terraferida. It had condemned the regional government and the Council of Majorca for money it had spent on the International Golf Travel Market. It was interesting that Humphrey Carter in a Viewpoint should mention the fact that the Balearic stand at the fair was as underwhelming as it was. Perhaps there had been second thoughts.
Palma cruises and name
Those who argue that Palma is saturated by too many tourists will have received further information to back up their claims. It was announced that leading cruise operators are looking more and more to Palma as a home base. This can lead to great benefits in terms of spending, as was noted, but it would also mean even more tourists. And what city will visitors be coming to in future? As the Balearic parliament was going through the motions of officially changing the name to Palma from Palma de Mallorca, the Partido Popular stated that, when in government again, it would change it back again.
Another woman lost her life as a result of domestic violence, so bringing the number of deaths in Majorca to five this year. The government said it will continue to fight to eradicate this violence. One trusts that it does. There have been too many minutes of silence outside government buildings in 2016.
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