Busquets and Barceló
Bel Busquets became the new vice-president of the Balearic government and the new tourism minister. Despite what was said when and after she was sworn in on Monday, it had been clear that President Armengol had wanted someone else to take over from Biel Barceló at tourism.
In our assessment of her appointment, we asked how it can be that the Balearics most important industry is placed in the hands of someone who on the face of it is not equipped for the post. The answers were to be found with political dogma and power games within the government. We also wondered if she might be the last Balearic tourism minister. Barceló had suggested that there might not be the need for one in the future because of the transfer of tourism responsibilities to the island councils.
Barceló, meanwhile, was doing the rounds of giving interviews. He hinted that he might resign as a member of parliament in the new year and expressed his disappointment and sadness at the chain of events that had led to his resignation as minister. In considering what legacy he might have left, we concluded that there will be many who would have preferred that he had departed without having left any legacy at all. Otherwise, his period as minister may have been when the mass in mass tourism was put into reverse.
The tourism museum idea
The possibility of creating a tourism museum in Majorca has been mentioned in the past, and the El Pi party raised it once again. Josep Melià proposed a museum because tourism has been and remains the source of most of the island's wealth. He also suggested that it might go into the Gesa building in Palma.
He clearly didn't have in mind a museum occupying the whole building, but however much space it might require, the idea went down like a lead balloon with readers. "Yet another ludicrous idea"; "who would visit this place?"; "this building was protected when it should have been knocked down - eyesore and an embarrassment to all tourists as they drive past it."
Taxi drivers and Uber
While the regional transport ministry was congratulating itself on having fined 78 pirate operators at Palma and Ibiza airports last summer, the taxi drivers were coming up with an idea to secure 700 licences that they would control and use as competition to Uber (and any other such service). A total of 960 vehicles with drivers for hire (VTC) licences are due to be made available because of a Supreme Court ruling that means the Balearic government can no longer block them.
There was, however, a major development that could well have ramifications for Uber services in Spain. The European Court of Justice ruled that Uber is a transport service and not a computer services business subject to an EU directive on electronic commerce. Current EU law allows member states to regulate how an "intermediation service" like Uber can function. An implication of this and of the court's ruling is that there could be greater restrictions on services like Uber, and legal experts immediately began to consider what the ruling might mean for the control of Airbnb (and similar). These platforms have argued that they are governed by the e-commerce directive, but the court has decreed otherwise.
Pig and vine shortages
There were warnings of shortages of both suckling pig for this Christmas and of vine plants for wine producers. With the pigs, the issue has been a high cost of production, while the vines are problematic on account of the export ban on vegetable matter because of the xylella bacterium. Grafts for vine plants are having to be made in Majorca, which hasn't been the case in the past, and the result is that there won't be sufficient numbers for certain grape varieties.
Tolo Sbert, the right-hand man to Tolo Cursach, was released from prison, having come up with half a million euros bail. The judge investigating Cursach and police corruption, Manuel Penalva, was asking for protection because of harassment and threats, but he was also facing the renewed possibility of being removed from the case. The anti-corruption prosecution service main office in Madrid was questioning his impartiality.
In other news, the driver of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo that did 216kph on a 60kph stretch of road, for which he received a 720 euros fine and eight months disqualification, put the car up for sale at 28,000 euros. A hydromassage tub at a hotel was revealed to have been the source of the outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease in Palmanova in October. And a further six establishments in Magalluf are to be closed down for having been operating as brothels and for not having had the required licences.
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