Catalonia "domino effect"
Catalonia once again dominated last week's agenda. While the political crisis has been developing in recent weeks, there have been any number of analyses of its practical impact. For Majorca, we learned, there could be benefits in the form of additional conventions; Barcelona is one of the world's leading conventions' destinations and not just Europe's. There was also a suggestion that cruises could stop using Barcelona, though it was hard to see how this might be done, certainly in the short term.
The president of the World Travel & Tourism Council was warning that the crisis could have a "domino effect" on the rest of Spain because of harm caused to the country's image and also because of a perception of instability. We said that Catalonia will be the main talking-point at the World Travel Market, which starts in under a fortnight's time. For tourism minister Biel Barceló, this might give him some relief from having to explain certain policies, one of which is the tourist tax.
Tourist tax freeze and communications
The government announced that the tax will not go up in the low season (November to April). Barceló said that this was logical. A freezing of the low-season rate was consistent with the promotional strategy "Better in Winter". Fair enough, but we wondered why a doubling of the rate in the low season had therefore ever been on the table. Taken to a logical extreme, there may as well be no tax in the low season, if - as the government suggested - the freezing of the rate won't make a significant difference to overall tourist tax revenue in 2018.
Barceló, we noted, may well also benefit from the fact that Greece is to introduce a tourist tax in 2018 at similar rates to those in the Balearics, but meanwhile there was a regular feed of news about how this year's tourist tax revenue is being spent: the Son Fornés archaeological site, the Galatzó finca, the old houses in Betlem are among the sites where projects will be funded. Reader reaction on the website and Facebook was, it might be said, one of being underwhelmed.
We looked at the government's communications about the tax. They are and have been lacking, and we quoted the tourism director-general, Pilar Carbonell. "The government has failed to communicate where the tax money goes, and we have to rectify this". She went on to say that there is a web page with information about tax spending, "but people don't know about it".
Rentals' ban and policies
A survey found that 50% of Balearic residents supported the current ban on the issuing of new holiday rentals' licences. Was this, however, that strong an endorsement of government policy? In Ibiza, a member of the Spanish government was explaining measures contained in a draft national decree. It is to include a requirement for all users of holiday rentals to be registered with the police, which is what happens with hotel guests in Spain and is an obligation in other countries, such as Croatia. Airbnb took issue with this, suggesting that the decree might not be compatible with European data protection and e-commerce regulations.
The government's budget for 2018, which will top the 5,000 million euros mark for the first time, will include a tax incentive for long-term rentals. To be frank, it didn't sound like much of an incentive. In Pollensa, where there are real concerns about the impact of the rentals' legislation because of the high dependence that the local tourism economy has on rentals, the town hall passed a motion calling for there to be no zoning restrictions on rentals in the municipality.
And Pollensa was one example we highlighted in trying to explain a significant change in turnover as reported by restaurants and retailers. In April and May, business had been up by ten per cent. In September and October it was down by the same amount. September in particular is typically a month for higher-spending tourists. Why such a change? Was it at least partly due to the impact of the rentals' legislation?
In other news, the illegal immigrants just kept on coming - there were 43 in all last week until Saturday, when the number went up because of another six picked up in Felanitx. Sa Rapita yacht club was meanwhile running out of space because it is storing some of the boats.
Employment in the Balearics reached an all-time high in the third quarter - 585,800 working, but there was still a very high level of temporary job contracts.
Sant Joan's town hall was asking residents to pick olives from municipal-owned trees (it would help save street-cleaning time and effort).
And the only chicken farmer in Majorca - Jaume Sureda in Maria de la Salut - was welcoming the news of a new municipal poultry abattoir in Inca. A privately owned abattoir, the only one in Majorca, shut down some time ago. He had the option of going to Minorca, but the abattoir on that island is in such a bad way it can no longer deal with his chickens, while a change to ferry services is making travel to Ibiza very difficult. He has 900 chickens growing fat, and so the Inca abattoir can't be opened soon enough.