Boris opted for a "simple" approach. | Hollie Adams (Pool)


So after all the build-up, it turned out that Boris and the Shapps chap had finally seen the error of their ways and realised that simplification was a preferable course to the complication that had hitherto guided UK government travel policy: simplification up to a point, that is.

Pity there might have been for The Times, for example. Not of course that there was pity for any of the media, which had been vacillating between amber-plus speculation one day and mere (and simple) amber the next. The rules on travel to Spain were about to be tightened, and then they weren't going to be. In the end, travel industry pressure (pleading) had seemingly persuaded Boris of the need for the well-known acronym KISS - keep it simple, stupid. Had it not, we might now be attempting to fathom out additional complications - amber-plus-plus and amber-plus-minus.

Amber for safety

Amber without a hint of red was thus greeted with relief, not least by the Balearics minister for tourism, who emerged from behind the couch (fearful of what might have been) and declared amber "excellent news". It was proof that the Balearic Islands are a "safe destination", albeit not as safe (apparently) as Romania, which would now be anticipating a late-summer green list boom for its Black Sea resorts, if anyone actually went to them.

Booming Balearics

Instead, and mercifully, everyone was flocking to the Balearics, regardless of what the traffic-light colour of the day was. Flights at Son Sant Joan were 90% of what they had been in those long-ago days before Covid, i.e. 2019 (ah yes, but how many passengers were on them?). The Balearics were smashing Catalonia, taking over the national leadership for number of tourists that has traditionally been reserved for the Costa Brava et al. A whole 656,082 foreign tourists had descended on the islands in June (the Frontur monthly survey reported), 251,907 more than Catalonia got. (There were 2,065,329 foreign tourists in the Balearics in June 2019.)

Everyone gave up trying to figure out what the 650,000 meant in percentage terms compared with last June's 28,388, but meanwhile there had also been a "surge" in foreign tourism to Spain in June - 2.2 million tourists. Surge hadn't been that difficult, given that there were just 204,000 foreign tourists last June.

Blue and white

Traffic-light colours were definitely not on the summer holiday fashion agenda for some celebrity holidaymakers. No, this had nothing to do with Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose latest adventures in Mallorca were last week confined to her Instagramming videos of an electrical storm and sewing with her mother. The celeb tourists were the Royal Family, Spanish that is.

Fashionistas commented on the blues and whites that the King and family were wearing for their trip to Lluc on Wednesday - the same sort of blues and whites that they seem to wear every summer when they're in Mallorca. The Palma paparazzi, doubtless cursing the fact that they had to schlep up to Lluc rather than just nip over to the Marivent Palace, waited for the short walkabout and the traditional pose for shots, which were made somewhat less traditional because President Armengol and some other politicians had decided to pitch up as well. Quite what they were doing there no one really knew; most of them had after all had audiences with the King two days before.

Stephen and Judi

Last Sunday, the King took his yacht out and the Queen went off to La Misericòrdia, where she presided over the closing gala for the eleventh Atlàntida Mallorca Film Fest and handed out Masters of Cinema awards. One was to a British actress who wasn't Catherine Zeta-Jones but was in fact Dame Judi Dench. And a hugely worthy recipient Dame Judi was, as also was the director Stephen Frears, for whom one felt a bit sorry, as most of the attention was on Dame Judi. Still, it was lovely that they were both in Mallorca and that they were able to reminisce about first having come to the island in the 1950s.