Auditing the tourism ministry
It was another less than wonderful week for tourism minister Biel Barceló. Disastrous and ridiculous were just two adjectives used by the opposition Partido Popular in describing his ministerial management and the holiday rentals legislation. Podemos were demanding that there be a "political audit" of the tourism ministry, which led us to conclude that they were in effect seeking to run the ministry, if they aren't already because of the demands they have made in securing certain policy, such as the doubling of the rate of the tourist tax.
Spending tourists' money
An explanation was provided as to how the tourist tax money is spent. This was littered with references to sustainability, just in case anyone was unaware that sustainability is the main purpose of the tax - sustainable tourism, at any rate. This explanation may have been designed to persuade readers as to the worthiness of "an estimated €100 million that will be spent on approximately 100 vital tourism initiatives, all aimed at creating a long-term sustainable tourism model for the Balearics", but the detail of these initiatives on a website the government has produced was less than persuasive. How tourism-related are, for example, "extending and improving the Inca water/sewage treatment plant"; "providing water conduction between Petra and Manacor"; or "circular sustainable management of tourism waste and creation of jobs for people at risk of exclusion"?
Coinciding with this explanation about how the tax revenue is spent came news of how a different tourism revenue source is being applied. This one, the ministry's "Borsa d’Allotjaments Turístics" fund, is actually used for tourism infrastructure projects. The cash for it has come from hotels. They have paid to "regularise" accommodation places and to have new ones. Some fifteen million euros are going towards numerous initiatives of a recognisably touristic nature.
The courts and Brussels were meanwhile being lined up for challenges to the tourist tax and the rentals legislation. The cruise operators' association warned the Balearic government that the tax, where application to cruise ships is concerned, is illegal. The government, we suspect, will choose to disagree on this, and so the courts will no doubt be invited to provide their learned opinion at some point in the future. Even further in the future, one would imagine, will be any European Commission ruling regarding rentals. Aptur is taking the legislation to Brussels.
Its legal advisor wondered if the Spanish government's failure to take the legislation to the Constitutional Court was because it had been "overwhelmed" by the Catalonia crisis. It might be pointed out that the crisis has not stopped the government referring Balearic bullfighting law to the same court, which does make one wonder quite why the rentals legislation hasn't been referred.
Madrid was looking at investing a whole load of money in Balearic renewable energy, which seemed somewhat odd as it had decided not to agree to the closure of the Es Murterar coal-fired power station on cost grounds. There was a rather alarming report about premature deaths caused by pollution from Es Murterar, and we believed that it was high time there was greater transparency and meaningful public information regarding the costs of renewable energy (exclusively solar in the Balearics) as well as health risks posed by the power station.
Christmas is fast approaching, and it was time for the lights to go on in Palma. The Bulletin held a reception for readers as the city was lit up, while our Thursday Thanksgiving Special was a reminder that there is in fact an old and long-established tradition for Thanksgiving that doesn't have to do with a global shopping event.
Auditing the tourism ministry
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