Biel Barceló in parliament yesterday. | Jaume Morey


In parliament yesterday, tourism minister Biel Barceló restated his view that there cannot be more growth of summer tourism and that there should be a focus on the quality and not quantity of tourists.

Barceló was responding to an invitation from the Partido Popular's Miquel Jerez to offer an assessment of participation at the London World Travel Market last week. Jerez noted that there were many signs warning of a decline in tourism because of Brexit and currency devaluations by other countries. He criticised the government's attitude during the fair. "You (Barceló and the government) criticise and threaten businesspeople because they say that the ecotax is not a good idea."

The minister responded by asking Jerez to apply "rigour" and he told him that "we have to improve the figures in winter and get a balance with the figures in summer". He added that UK tourist spending in winter and spring months has increased by 16%, which is what he said last week when tackled by Jerez at a parliamentary committee. This 16% was of course for last winter and spring.

Meanwhile, the Spanish tourism bureau in London is suggesting that there will be a 23% increase in UK tourism this winter, though this figure would seem to be for Spain as a whole. He added that there will be an increase in winter flights for Majorca and Ibiza and that in Minorca there is work being done to cover the loss of Monarch flights in February and March.

Also in parliament, Barceló escaped a motion of censure but it was a close call: the vote was a tie.

The Partido Popular had presented the motion because of the vice-president's supposed involvement in the Més contracts affair. Podemos, who have called for Barceló to resign over the matter, didn't lend their support to the PP motion. They instead abstained, as did El Pi. PSOE and Més deputies (both Majorca and Minorca) voted against the motion. The votes of the PP and others resulted in a 23-23 split with eleven abstentions. Parliamentary rules are that in the event of a tied vote, it is retaken twice. If there is a still a tie, then the motion is defeated, which is what happened yesterday.

The issue has been raised before in parliament, and Barceló has survived previous attempts at censure. During the debate for this latest motion, the PP's former government vice-president, Antonio Gómez, argued that Barceló had not assumed his political responsibility for allowing public money go to his personal "friend", Jaume Garau. "No one in the history of our autonomy (the regional government) has dared to do so much," suggested Gómez. (There will doubtless be those who will be surprised by this suggestion.)