KIng Felipe with Mariano Rajoy and Carles Puigdemont.

18-08-2017Sergio Perez

Barcelona togetherness
Majorca fell silent at midday on Friday. As it has fallen silent all too often recently. This time, though, the silence was for something closer. The capital of Catalonia had been attacked. But Barcelona is also one of Spain's great cities. Amid the numerous images from last week there were those of togetherness: King Felipe, Mariano Rajoy, the president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, and the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, side by side. There are times when the politics and the differences need to be cast aside. This was such a time.

While they were holding minute's silences, security measures in Palma were being stepped up. More barriers of one form or another can be expected. But what about elsewhere? Maria Salom, the national government's delegate to the Balearics, was right to praise the professionalism of Spain's security forces. But even they - like any forces - cannot prevent the wholly unpredictable. Palma was being reinforced, while back in Catalonia they would have been wondering how a place like Cambrils came to be the scene of a terrorist incident.


Anti-tourism and rentals in the courts
Barcelona was to the fore in other ways. Anti-tourism protests were continuing. There was one on the beach that was directed in particular at the type of tourism La Barceloneta has been attracting. This beachside district is to a great extent the source of the anti-tourism movement. For at least three summers there have been protests against the proliferation of apartments for rent that are typically occupied by a type of tourist who falls into the "tourism of excesses" category: mainly young, mainly drunk.

The town hall was meanwhile announcing that it has opened almost 6,200 proceedings against illegal rentals this year. In Majorca, by contrast, the tourism ministry said that action against 600 illegal apartments had been taken before the introduction of the new legislation.

The Madrid government signalled that it may take the Balearic legislation to the Constitutional Court. The national government is entitled to query any regional law that may invade its powers - as it has done with bullfighting - but the Partido Popular has hardly shown itself in the past to be a great advocate of liberal regulation of holiday apartments.

Apart from this possible legal challenge, we wondered about some of the enforceability of the Balearic legislation, especially as it relates to websites such as Airbnb. A Catalonian government fine on Airbnb was overturned by a court last year. Barcelona town hall has imposed fines that are 50% higher than the maximum in the Balearic legislation: 600,000 euros against Airbnb and HomeAway. Will they ever be paid?


Booze and all-inclusives
We took a look at work conducted over forty years ago which plotted the development of tourism to a stage of "antagonism" (or anti-tourism, if one prefers). George Doxey's index can now be seen as having been prophetic, and it coincides with a different model that predicts stagnation or decline of a tourist destination. In Calvia they've been attempting rejuvenation as a way of preventing decline. Magalluf stubbornly refuses to fully comply, but the town hall is being insistent. Bars that had masqueraded as brothels were closed down and displays of alcohol had to be withdrawn from shop terraces.

The Pimeco retailers association called for the booze display ban to be overturned. It claimed that 70% of hospital admissions for the effects of alcohol were related to all-inclusive hotels. The association may be right, but there was some scepticism about its figures: Pimeco, like the Acotur tourist businesses association, has been defending its members by attaching blame to all-inclusives.

Acotur was meantime querying tourism ministry figures about the number of hotels which offer all-inclusive (either 100% or as an option). Acotur claimed that there are hotels which are not on the all-inclusive register: eighteen in Calvia alone.

The ministry, very busy it seems, announced a campaign to promote good behaviour among tourists. Another such campaign: previous ones have had only limited or no effect. And Ryanair joined a different campaign - to clamp down on airport drinking - while it looked on as its Air Berlin rival for Palma airport dominance flew into insolvency.

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