President Armengol and Iago Negueruela. | Jaume Morey


Pioneer and pioneering are favourite words of the island's politicians. They convey messages of action, of innovation and of breakthrough. The audiences for these messages will vary, with tourism pioneering messages going beyond the island's shores and being fired off in the general direction of the tourism supplier markets - Germany, the UK in particular.

Iago Negueruela, his position in the government further strengthened by now also being its spokesperson, formed a dream team with President Armengol in heading for Madrid in search of greater aid, more vaccines and a reactivation of tourism. They returned laden with promises and a pioneering spirit, one that had been shown in June last year when the Balearics (Mallorca, if one is being entirely accurate) became the pilot destination for the return of foreign tourists.

Emboldened by that experience, president and tourism minister had presented the case for the Balearics (probably Mallorca) being the frontier for tourists to boldly go with documentation they have not before. A vaccination passport pilot scheme was the pioneering initiative, its only slight drawbacks being that there isn't a passport as yet or any agreement regarding its use. Still, the initiative reaffirmed what the Balearics have long been - pioneers on the tourism frontier.

Massive scale vaccination

Vaccination, we learned, will be on "a massive scale" from mid-March. The regional health ministry was sure that, by June, 70% of the population of the Balearics could be vaccinated. While putting sure and could into the same sentence is a slight contradiction, we were nevertheless beginning to look forward to, as Prime Minister Sánchez put it, "an end to the nightmare". Herd immunity, the PM remarked, will be attained, and he appeared to have revised his timeframe for achieving this. It was no longer by the end of the summer, it was by summer.

The Balearic government revealed images of the set-up at the Germans Escales sports centre in Palma, which is to be one of the mass vaccination sites. These images did seem rather premature, given that deliveries of vaccines were still limited, so much so that Balearic over-80s were among the last in this age group in the country to be vaccinated. This had something to do with the fact that the Balearics have a younger population than most other regions. Therefore there were fewer doses at present. Or so it was said.

Medical profession criticism

The medical profession was critical of the lack of information regarding the vaccination schedule and also of a lack of transparency. Perhaps stung by the words of the heads of the doctors and nursing colleges, the directors general of IB-Salut and public health held a press conference in order to attempt to provide some information and to pass on the glad tidings about 70% of the population being vaccinated by June (possibly).

Further criticism from the medical profession came from the president of the Simebal doctors union, Miguel Lázaro. Responding to the government announcement that the health sector is to be awarded with the Balearics Gold Medal (the highest distinction), he described this as "a purely aesthetic operation to cover up remunerative mistreatment".

The "could" of tourism

Meanwhile, there was the week's normal round of maybe or maybe not, headed by the UK "pondering" whether to place Spain on its high-risk red list. "Could" was again an operative word, as we were also being informed that Boris Johnson could be about to set the date for foreign tourism travel and that Greece "could snatch a big share of the holiday market" from the islands. Tui announced that Crete had gone above Mallorca in being the favoured summer destination for German holidaymakers, the tour operator adding that Greece "could" be open for business as early as April.