Mariano Rajoy, speaking after his meeting with King Felipe in Palma yesterday. | Joan Torres


Prime Minister Rajoy's meeting with King Felipe at the Marivent Palace in Palma yesterday was delayed by more than two hours. Rajoy was due to have met the King at 12.30, but a bout of lumbago forced him to delay his flight from Madrid.

When he finally arrived, he told the media that he was fine, thanks very much. He gave a thumbs-up as he got out of the official car but walked with a slight limp. The King greeted him with something of a laugh, and they posed for the media at the doors to the Marivent for around a minute.

He and the King lunched together, and afterwards he gave a press conference in the Marivent gardens. The prime minister spoke about the potential new regional financing system. He said that this will need consensus among political parties, the national government and the regional governments. At the last conference of regional presidents there was agreement that there should be a new model of financing. He expressed his confidence in being able to arrive at an arrangement that will be "representative" of all the parties in the Balearics.

Other issues that Rajoy discussed with the King included the referendum in Catalonia that is due to take place on 1 October and the recent spate of anti-tourism protests. The prime minister said that he was "radically against the actions of some radical extremists". It was crazy for some extremists to attack tourists. "I don't know if one needs to have a poster saying 'Welcome, Mister Tourist', but what one cannot do is bash tourists who create a great deal of income and who enable many Spaniards to work. It's a nonsense."

Rajoy called for responsibility and common sense. "Tourism is one of the sectors that is driving the economy the most. It needs to be supported. We have to take care of it and to treat it well." He went on to say that tourism activity had generated a nine per cent increased current account surplus over the first five months of the year and that employment in the sector rose by almost two per cent in the second quarter.

He also touched on the issue of airport co-management, which is something that the Balearic government is calling for. The current system, he observed, has operated for forty years and no government has seen any reason to modify it. Things do not work better just because more administrations are involved, he suggested. The Aena airports authority, he added, is contributing to exceptional tourism seasons.