The PP's Marga Prohens called on Biel Barceló to resign and suggested that Podemos were crying wolf.

21-07-2016MIquel A. Cañellas

Pressure on Barceló
Pressure for vice-president and tourism minister Biel Barceló was maintained last week. It came from Podemos, whose support for the government appeared to be ebbing, and from the Partido Popular. Barceló was branded incompetent by the PP because - so spokesperson Marga Prohens claimed - he had done nothing for tourism. The contracts' affair was another matter worthy of resignation in the PP's opinion. Podemos shared this.

If Barceló stays on - and it seems highly unlikely that he will not - he faces opposition to the holiday rentals' legislation. The PP said that it will propose an amendment to the whole bill, while Podemos let it be known that it will raise specific amendments. Where Podemos were concerned, was this another of the party's threats which eventually mean little? Prohens argued that Podemos "cry wolf" before "kneeling in front of President Armengol". We pointed out that this had been the case with the tourist tax legislation. However, the circumstances are different now. Barceló is severely weakened and so are the "agreements for change" between Podemos and the government.


Tourism secretary-of-state in Majorca
The national secretary-of-state for tourism, Matilde Asián, was in Majorca. On holiday rentals she created some confusion regarding Madrid's attitude towards reforming the Ley de Arrendamienos Urbanos (the tenancy act). She said that there were no plans to reform it and later stated that she will study it - "if anyone tells me to". She also suggested that she hadn't been asked to consider reform, which was odd given that the Balearic government and the Majorca Hoteliers Federation have asked her. For the government, it is essential for its holiday rentals' legislation that there is reform of the tenancy act so that there is a minimum of one month for a tenancy.

Meanwhile, it was reported that there had been a rush to "regularise", i.e. register, holiday rentals (mainly apartments). This was despite it being legally impossible to register an apartment under current law and also despite the new law not yet being in force. It was also evident that some owners have decided to stop using websites such as Airbnb because of fears of being heavily fined, as and when the new law is approved.


A buoyant Easter
The Easter holiday period brought glad tidings to hoteliers in Calvia. In Santa Ponsa, there was occupancy of some 70% with 90% of hotels said to have been open. The occupancy was higher in Palmanova. There were moans that things could have been better in Magalluf, had more hotels been open.

Meliá, so important to Magalluf's tourism, announced that it will keep some hotels in the resort open until the start of December in order to accommodate visitors to a major event at Palma's Palacio de Congresos. The hotel group said that this will assist in lengthening the season. The numbers of guests will, though, be low. Meliá also reported that it expects the Palacio complex to at least break even this year and be in profit next year. In Calvia's resorts, meantime, bars and clubs were talking about protests (selective closures) over the town hall's insistence on the use of sound limiters. The town hall had little time for objections; owners have had three years to comply with the measure that will be enforced from the start of May.


A tragic cycling death
There was another tragic story. Bryan Stout, just short of his 86th birthday, was knocked off his bike and killed on Tuesday. The incident occurred in Alcudia, which is awash with cyclists, and the 48-year-old driver of a 4x4 is now in prison on three charges, one of them reckless homicide. He tested positive for cocaine and for alcohol - three times over the limit.


British ambassador's encouraging words
The British ambassador, Simon Manley, was someone else who had flown into Majorca from Madrid. The Bulletin had organised a breakfast at the Meliá Palma Bay Hotel (part of the Palacio complex), at which the ambassador gave a speech about Brexit. He had some positive news in stating that there was nothing more important in the Brexit negotiations than citizens - UK citizens resident in Spain and other EU states and EU citizens in the UK. The local media, aside from the Bulletin, was mostly interested in tourism. It will not be affected by Brexit, said the ambassador, albeit there was a caveat: so long as it remains easy to travel.

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