Better in winter? If there's going to be snow, February can normally be relied on to bring it. | Pere Bota


Terraces "war"
There was a "war" in Palma over terraces. The restaurants association, already with its nose well out of joint because it believed it hadn't been listened to when the town hall was drafting its public bylaw, was invited to a meeting at which the town hall wanted an "alternative proposal" to what was contained in the draft. The association was even more annoyed; it had only two days to come up with this alternative. The meeting was postponed until this week, when it seems likely that the association is going to have to lump the fact that terraces in certain parts of the city - the old centre and Santa Catalina - will only be allowed two metres of space to allow pedestrians unrestricted right of way.

Does the change in space, all of half a metre, really make a huge difference in terms of use of the public way by pedestrians? It will make a huge difference to terraces which might disappear, so why is there such an argument over fifty centimetres? It was the Partido Popular who referred to a terraces war, one that had been started by the current town hall administration when it took office and took aim at terraces along the Born.

Tramuntana arguments
Brussels is currently on environmental alert with regard to Tramuntana Mountain exclusion zones. The regional government has to explain a lifting of restricted access to the zones on the Ternelles finca in Pollensa. The government and Pollensa town hall were both arguing that the zones were being used as an excuse by the owners (the March family) to prevent access. The family and the Mediterranean Wildlife Foundation, which had complained to Brussels and which also now conducts guided hikes in Ternelles, were accused of having "personal interests", and Brussels was told as much.

The mountains didn't attain World Heritage Status because of environmental reasons but because of the centuries of (multi) cultural heritage. Much has of course been made of this Unesco honour. But does it have much impact? There was a report of a survey of German hikers which concluded that, much though the hikers enjoy the mountains, the heritage status makes no difference to their decision to visit.

Tourist spending
Egatur, the survey of tourist spending, is a statistical exercise that often leaves readers in a state of disbelief. When Egatur says that average tourist spending is X, the reaction is that it is nothing like X in certain resorts. But anything can be proved with the right statistics of course, and so the finding from 2017 that holiday rental tourists spend on average almost 24% more than tourists in hotels was latched onto by the Aptur holiday rentals association.

Much though the Egatur survey is criticised, its principal purpose for balance of payments use means that it must be reasonably sound. As for the higher spending by tourists staying in rentals, this was surely a finding that mostly everyone would think was obvious.

More on zoning
Palma town hall, meanwhile, was taking on an outside company to help it decide zoning for rentals in the city. While the rest of the island has been carved up by the Council of Majorca, Palma does its own zoning. The Council, reeling to some extent in the face of the opposition to the zoning, was suggesting that future licences that will allow for a maximum of sixty days tourist rental per annum may cost less than licences for 365 days a year properties.

Tourist tax and tourist loss
With predictions having been made as to potential loss of tourists because of the increased tourist tax, we drew attention to academic research on this loss. The work by researchers at the university in Palma suggested there could be up to a 0.9% loss. The problem with the research was that it didn't consider 2017, when the number of tourists went up by six per cent. It was also based on the old rate of the tax. We all wait to see what this year brings in reality.

And there was of course a fair amount of weather. The snow fell, it was cold, it was wet, it was windy. Despite all the rain, we learned that there are still two areas of Majorca - South Tramuntana and Manacor-Felanitx - which are on pre-drought alert.