Tourism good management
Bel Busquets, the new tourism minister, was preparing for her first major tourism fair - Fitur in Madrid, which starts on 17 January. She promised that there will be continuity of the "good management" of tourism, to which some may well have asked - what good management?
The continuity of policies is in no doubt. If there is any, one only has to take account of the fact that the new director-general of tourism, Antoni Sansó, was instrumental in drafting the holiday rentals legislation. Busquets was meanwhile appointing Lluís Apesteguia as her chief of staff. Considered to be ever more of a "strong man" within Més, Apesteguia's appointment was seen as adding greater political weight to the ministry.
Against this background, the Partido Popular mayor of Santanyi, Llorenç Galmés, voiced concern about the impact of the Council of Majorca's tourism plans on Cala d'Or. He was referring to the Council's plan of intervention in tourist areas and also, by implication, to the zoning of holiday rentals. Cala d'Or does not have the same level of dependence on rentals as Puerto Pollensa (where there are fewer hotel places than legal rentals places), but rentals are still nevertheless a massively important part of the accommodation mix.
Whatever the rights or wrongs of the rentals legislation (and the general view of Bulletin readers is that they are wrongs), there has been far too little consideration given to what individual town halls might want and might wish to say. Galmés was absolutely right to seek some cooperation with the Council of Majorca, but can he arrive at some consensus with the Council, which is what he was hoping for?
Foreign tourism in the Balearics in November was the highest it had been since 2008, and it rose by sixteen per cent compared with November 2016. While this might be considered to be a reflection of a lengthening of the season, an alternative interpretation was that it was merely a return to how things had been. Foreign tourist spending in November was also up, though it would have been hard for it not to have been. The reality check was of course that this spending was less than four per cent of all foreign tourist spending in Spain in November.
Following a somewhat faltering start to its existence, the Palma 365 Foundation has made great strides in promoting Palma as a low-season destination, and it has met with a good deal success in this regard. But what about the slogan - Passion for Palma - and especially the logo? Have either had much impact? Well, as far as the merchandise is concerned, they haven't. Sales, it was reported, are disappointing.
Changes to Palma's Paseo Marítimo, it could be argued, will be beneficial to tourism in that increased pedestrianisation and green areas will make the seafront more attractive and appealing than it already is. However, there is the issue as to what impact there might be on traffic. The Council of Majorca was voicing its concerns about what the loss of lanes might mean - traffic jams elsewhere.
Mayor Antoni Noguera, who has been to the fore in promoting the changes to the Paseo, responded by saying that there won't be traffic problems. But his response didn't really deal with practicalities. It focused instead on climate change and "humanising" the city. The mayor is right to do so, but the fear persists that there will be jams caused by bottlenecks.
The Arca heritage association gave its support to the mayor, noting that when the Via Cintura was created it had been the intention to return the Paseo Marítimo to being a promenade.
Son Banya drugs
Some 1,000 vehicles per day were said to have been entering the Son Banya shanty town in Palma over the festive period. The occupants of these vehicles were going for one reason - to buy drugs (typically cocaine). It was the police who came up with this figure and one for the value of the drugs being sold. It made one wonder why something wasn't being done, but then the police, as ever, face a resourcing issue.
There are regular major operations against drugs in Son Banya and major successes, but the drugs are still sold. Perhaps the demolition of all of Son Banya can't come soon enough. But will this just shift the clans' drugs trade elsewhere?
Tourism good management
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