Miquel Fluxá (Iberostar), Juan José Hidalgo (Globalia), Gabriel Escarrer Julia (Meliá) and the Cuban tourism minister, Manuel Marrero. | Ruiz Collado


Tourism's record season
The Balearic tourism industry took itself off to Madrid last week. Part of the industry, the leading hoteliers, said that the islands can look forward to another record season. Among reaction to this, understandably enough, was that the hoteliers might indeed be looking at record occupancy levels, given that the choice of alternatives (holiday apartments) has been made that much more difficult.

The hoteliers' forecast was odd in that one of their number, Carmen Riu said that the doubling of the tourist tax will lead to a loss of tourists. Nevertheless, there was wider agreement regarding the record forecast, and it came from certain government ministers and the president of the Confederation of Balearic Business Associations.

While much hotelier attention focused on Majorca, there was time for leading chains - Meliá, Iberostar, Barceló and Be Live (Globalia) - to outline investment plans overseas, including a total investment in Cuba this year of some 1,000 million euros.

Better in Winter
Tourism minister Bel Busquets was attending her first major travel fair, and she took the opportunity to say that the 'Better in Winter' campaign was proving to be a success. There was a "certain movement of tourists from the summer towards the winter, spring and autumn months", she noted, adding that tourist spending had increased last November. This spending may well have been up, but it was the result of there having been more tourists. Whether their numbers had anything to do with 'Better in Winter' was very much open to question, as they had returned to a level similar to that before economic crisis.

Rentals zones
The Council of Majorca unveiled its much-spoken-about zones for holiday rentals. There was no real surprise with these, as there had been plenty of advance information. The zones don't as yet mean a great deal in practical terms as there could still be some amendment once the Council completes its PIAT plan for intervention in tourist areas and also as the government's moratorium on new licences will remain in place until the summer.

What no one knows at present is how the some 30,000 places for holiday rental accommodation will be distributed geographically. Nothing has been said as to the mechanism for this, while a further unknown is what will happen in Palma. The town hall will decide on its own zones, assuming there are any.

The impression given by the zones, as we have remarked on previously in the Bulletin, is just how complicated and confusing the government and the Council are making regulation of holiday rentals.

The anti-corruption office finally opened. Its director, Jaume Far, was stressing the degree of independence that he will have and observed that all governments are prone to unacceptable behaviour. The Podemos leader in the Balearic parliament, Alberto Jarabo, wished the office "a long life and a story of success". Far will be appointing fifteen staff, who are already being referred to as the "untouchables".

Real Mallorca's ground
Real Mallorca lost their unbeaten record when they were defeated by Peña Deportiva in Ibiza. Returning to the second tier of La Liga (at the very least) is essential for the club and the owners, who let it be known that they are looking for a new ground. The mayor of Palma, Antoni Noguera, has been informed by the club that a move away from the Son Moix is on the cards. The move would in fact be away from Palma completely. The club has grown tired of the town hall (which owns the stadium) doing nothing about improving it and removing the running track.

The pine of Sant Antoni
The Sant Antoni fiestas brought with them the traditional bonfires, barbecues, demons and animal blessings. In Pollensa there was also the pine climb tradition. The pre-event controversy for this surrounded the banning of the cockerel, the prize at the top of the pine. The Alternativa per Pollença wanted the town hall to ensure that no one smuggled a cockerel in and so suggested that the local police mount a guard.

As things were to turn out, the local police had other things to worry about. Two officers were injured when the carriage with the pine tipped over. Two more people were hurt when the pine tree snapped. It was being bent in order to force it into the square where the climb takes place. The town hall announced that it will be looking at new regulations.