Oranges. A thief helped himself to some and got a twelve-month sentence. | MDB


Branson and Goodman
In terms of Majorca's tourism, Richard Branson is the chalk to Harry Goodman's cheese. Branson spoke last week about luxury and eco-tourism, his Son Bunyola estate in Banyalbufar the focus for both. From the late sixties, Harry Goodman was highly instrumental in the development of economical tourism for the masses. It would be difficult to imagine the current Balearic government giving a special award to someone heading a mass tourism travel company, as the government in 1989 did. Perhaps Branson will get one instead.

Hotel prices
Harry Goodman was all about price, and we learned last week that the island's hoteliers appear to be having a rethink about their prices this summer. Discounts will apparently be on offer, the hoteliers fearful of being left in the lurch by tour operators shifting capacity elsewhere. If there will be price offers in the summer, there won't be any for Easter, or so it was reported. Occupancy in key resort areas was said to be up to around 65%, while Palma airport can anticipate a 20% increase in passenger arrivals over Easter - this rise is by comparison with the same time last year and not Easter in 2017, which was two weeks later than this year.

Summer flights
The airports authority Aena announced airline summer supply of seats. For Palma there is an increase of 20% to 33.3 million seats (flights in and out of the airport). There will be 38 more routes and 20% more flights. A slowing-down of summer tourism doesn't appear to be on the cards, although it was noticeable that scheduling for the UK market shows less of a rise than increases for the German and Spanish markets. For the UK, the increase is just 2.5%; for Germany it is a whopping 38.9%, albeit that this figure is due to go down because not all flights formerly operated by Niki are being picked up.

The BBVA bank issued its forecast for Balearic economic growth. An estimate of three per cent this year is lower than the government's 3.5% forecast; the bank typically always offers a more conservative figure. In 2017 there was 4.1% growth, and a reason for a lower rise this year and next is, the bank says, that growth in the number of tourists is "close to saturation". We'll see.

Holiday rental information
The Balearic government will be working with the national government delegation, and so therefore the state security forces, in assisting the provision of holiday rental guest information to the police. State law requires that this information is provided in the same way as the law obliges hotels to let the police have details about guests; this has been mandatory for years. Security is the reason for the information. The demand, despite what some are saying, is not unreasonable.

Meanwhile, the environmentalists GOB were calling for the Council of Majorca's zoning plan for holiday rentals to be withdrawn. This wasn't because GOB is opposed to any restrictions. Quite the contrary. It was arguing that data used to come up with the zoning scheme was out of date. "We cannot accept that areas which have not yet been affected by all the negative effects of mass tourism are added so that the whole island is subject to over-exploitation."

Palma bylaws
Palma's bylaws for terraces and street selling appeared ever more bizarre. There was "agreement" for the terraces. Under this agreement, one of the streets in the city where the greatest controversy has existed - Fabrica - will have 3.83% less of public way space devoted to terraces.

With street selling, illegal street selling that is, the new bylaw for the public way is to remove any reference to this illegality. The police were confused, retailers were outraged, hardly anyone could understand what it meant, given that state law in any event covers illegal street selling activity. Finally, or so it would appear, street selling will after all be dealt with under a different bylaw, that for civic behaviour. After all the arguments, therefore, Fabrica lost less than four per cent of public way and illegal street selling will still be illegal.

The oranges thief
And a thief who took three bags of oranges from a finca off the Puigpunyent road in Palma had a one-year sentence upheld by the Provincial Court. He had stolen the oranges in March 2014, but it wasn't the first time he had trespassed on the property. His defence lawyer asked for consideration to be given to the time the case had taken to get to court. The judge turned this down.