Storm Gloria destruction and tragedy
Stormy weather is hardly unusual in Majorca, but Storm Gloria was out of the ordinary in that its effects were felt over a four-day period. On Sunday, most attention was turned towards Palma and the night party for the Sebastian fiestas. The winds and the rain weren't that exceptional during the day, but the weather was to deteriorate, leading to cancelled concerts and any amount of recrimination. The storm, it then became clear, was a significant weather event. Three people went missing; coastal areas took a severe battering; torrents overflowed; ships were unable to operate and bring supplies to the islands; cargo planes had to be used, as supermarkets ran short of perishable goods; parts of Majorca looked like disaster areas.
A disaster area
The Balearic government wanted Madrid to declare a disaster area, and when he came to survey the damage, Prime Minister Sánchez promised this. If this promise is kept, it will mean the release of emergency funding, although as was the experience in the aftermath of the October 2018 floods, such funding can seem to take an awfully long time in materialising.
There were reminders of October 2018. The east and northeast of Majorca were pounded by the storm. S'Illot was one of the places to bear the brunt, as S'Illot had been by the floods. By late summer 2019, the beach and the seabed close to shore still hadn't fully recovered; now there was something else to worry about.
Excesses decree "well received"
Was this all another example of climate change and a further warning as to what may become normal in future? Maybe, and climate change was meanwhile just one theme of the Fitur tourism fair in Madrid. Predominantly, Fitur was addressing sustainability, which for the Balearics includes the nature of tourism itself. The government's tourism of excesses decree had been "well received overseas", observed President Armengol. While aspects of it may have been, the reception was far less obvious when it came to the restrictions on alcohol in all-inclusives.
We took the government to task for having once more failed to communicate adequately, noting that there was the potential for confusion as to how this decree was to be applied and where. By the end of the week, the hoteliers federation and others were saying just this. There was misunderstanding. The decree is limited in Majorca - Magalluf, Playa de Palma, Arenal - but there was a view that it was island-wide. Bookings that had been made prior to the decree coming into force were unaffected, but that wasn't clear. The government should have learned a lesson with its poor communications for the introduction of the tourist tax. It had not.
The child sexual exploitation affair continued to rumble on. Following the Friday cabinet meeting, the government spokesperson, Pilar Costa, addressed the media and insisted that there should be no resignations. These would not solve anything was more or less the government line. Perhaps not, but there are times when scandal demands visible intervention in order to satisfy the public that matters are being dealt with seriously.
Increased funding for the Balearics
There was some good news for the government. The amount the Balearics will receive via the regional financing system this year will rise by almost seven per cent. This will be the highest percentage increase among the regions, and the total - 2,864 million euros - was almost 30 million more than the Balearic government had anticipated in the 2020 budget.
Despite this increase, there were still the inevitable calls for more.