Passport control chaos
Images of queues at passport control were in Tuesday's edition. And the queues were still there by Thursday. On Friday, the queues images were replaced with one of a National Police officer staring longingly at unused passport scanners. Things were a nightmare on Tuesday and the nightmare lingered to Wednesday, by when it was being announced that dozens were missing flights because of the queues.
The police union blamed EU regulations: 2017/458, which involve much stricter physical passport controls for non-European Union and Schengen residents, such as the British. "We didn’t invent the law, the EU did." The union also blamed reductions to police numbers and wanted Aena to stagger flights and so ease the pressure.
Aena said that it would work with the police to improve the situation, but meanwhile most of the blame was being attached to Spain's interior ministry for not having had the foresight to have anticipated the problem and provide greater police manpower. The police added that it was known that the problem would arise, which made the ministry's embarrassment even greater. And Aena, as well as Abta in the UK, could also have foreseen that there would be much more strain on passport control because of the increased number of flights and of tourists.
Too many vehicles
There were queues of a different variety: queues of traffic. It was said that there will be more than one million vehicles on Balearic roads this summer, the vast majority of them on Majorcan roads. Among these million plus will be 120,000 hire cars - a figure that one had to take on trust. The Balearic government has consistently said that it doesn't know how many hire cars there are.
All these vehicles were adding to the traffic pressure on the via cintura motorway. The busiest stretch, we were informed, was between the Inca motorway intersection and the Soller exit. There again, the intersection - in the Andratx direction (far less so for the airport) - has been a complete disaster for years.
The implication was that all the hire cars are a significant contributory factor in bringing the motorway to a standstill. Hire cars are part of the "tourist saturation" story and a consequence of so many holiday rentals.
The president of Aptur, the holiday rentals association, argued that rentals aren't the main cause of saturation (in general terms). He also took issue with aspects of the holiday rentals' legislation, describing as "disproportionate" the proposed fines of up to 40,000 euros for unlicensed properties being advertised and rented out.
The legislation should be approved on Tuesday, but we noted that Podemos were making certain demands which might just delay the approval. We suggested that this might have been some more last-minute grandstanding by Podemos - they have engaged in this with previous legislation - but accepted that they had a point that this legislation can't be seen in isolation from other bills planned by the government, such as the new housing law.
PSOE, meanwhile, were preparing for their congress this coming weekend, at which plans for the 2019 election will be discussed. Among measures on the agenda are ones for tourism. The party, led by President Armengol, seems to now accept a need for limits to tourist numbers, while it also appears to support a raising of the tourist tax rate: this may even double, if Podemos have their way.
Illegals, Alcudia and Magalluf
In other news, the national government's delegation to the Balearics announced that 90% of illegal immigrants arriving by small boat from north Africa have been deported over the past eighteen months. The numbers have risen alarmingly; more than 50 people have been detained this month alone. We highlighted the deplorable situation with holidaying Spanish students in Alcudia. These organised holidays, under the name Mallorca Island Festival, have now finished, which will be a relief to residents, businesses (and indeed other tourists) in Alcudia's main tourism centre. In Magalluf, bars and restaurants were dealing with smelly drains, while Calvia town hall was considering taking The Sun to court for libelling the local police and having described Magalluf as a war zone.
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