Arta demons - when dressed up and not undressed. | J. Socies


One more time ... holiday rentals
The tit for tat over holiday rentals continues. The alliance for touristic excellence, Exceltur, and the rentals association Aptur are the ones which typically engage in the presentation of their two sides of the coin.

Aptur highlighted the fact that apartment owners are choosing to sell their properties because they are unable to market them as holiday rentals and prefer not to rent them out on a long-term basis. They are concerned, among other things, about rent payment defaults. So, rather than creating a stock of residential lets, which the government will have hoped for, apartments are being sold in the main to foreign buyers.

Exceltur, as we alluded to, is a somewhat curious organisation insofar as its membership reflects a broad (if select) cross section of the tourism and travel industry. Part of the curiosity arises from the fact that some of these members would naturally have an interest in there being a healthy holiday rentals market. But a number of hotel groups are members. They include the likes of Iberostar and Meliá from Majorca, though they are not only Majorcan. It can appear as if the hoteliers dominate when it comes to the Exceltur side of the rentals coin.

Its latest report identified holiday rentals as the principal cause of "tourist pressure" in Palma and other cities; Palma doesn't have the highest pressure, as Exceltur ranks it in sixth place.

As we have previously observed, attaching sole blame for so-called saturation or massification to rentals gets no one anywhere. There needs to be a more nuanced debate and one that recognises that rentals (apartments rather than only villas or houses) have a place in the accommodation mix. Such a debate is seemingly impossible.

All-inclusives and the EU travel directive
The government announced its legislation package for 2018. Regulation of all-inclusives and party boats is one element. Where all-inclusives are concerned, it is known that the government intends restricting the availability of alcohol, but how much further might it go? We noted that the 2012 tourism referred to quality standards but that these were never followed up or specified.

Meanwhile, another potential cost for holidaymakers was being highlighted. We looked at the EU package travel directive, which member states have to transpose into national law this year. The UK government, regardless of Brexit, will be doing so. The directive updates consumer protection in that it addresses so-called linked travel, i.e. the elements of a holiday or trip that are combined and are provided by different companies. This is essentially all to do with giving proper cover to independent travellers rather than those who book package holidays, and this cover will naturally come at a cost.

Corruption investigation overlap?
The anti-corruption office, a stellar initiative of the current government, is finally about to come into being. It will be housed temporarily in a room in the Balearic parliament. Questions have been raised about this office and the potential for its responsibilities to overlap with those of other bodies, such as the audit commission. And last week there was a good deal of news about a report that the commission had conducted into government accounts and contracts for 2015. Among its conclusions was the discovery of 220 million euros worth of contracts from the IB-Salut health service that "apparently did not follow legal procedures".

Son Banya aid
There was yet another police raid in the Son Banya shanty town. Arrests were made and significant quantities of drugs were seized. Son Banya, something of an experiment from the early 1970s that went badly wrong, will be completely demolished within two to three years. Palma town hall announced a relocation assistance programme worth over five million euros. Mayor Noguera stressed that "families with criminal records" won't be getting any of this aid.

The naked demon
With the Sant Antoni fiestas getting under way, there was news of Arta town hall seeking to deter underage drinking during the celebrations. Arta had another issue to contend with. A photo of one of its principal demons was posted on Instagram. The problem was that it was a mirror selfie of the demon stark naked.