Rain at the end of August in Mallorca

As August turns to September, rain is hardly unusual in Mallorca.

03-09-2021Jaume Morey

'It might as well rain until September.' So sang Carole King many a long year ago, and for some in Mallorca's tourism industry there had been a fear that it might as well have done exactly that.

As things have turned out, the season has proved to be better than expected. We know this because the Balearic government keeps telling us that it has. The tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, was the first to get on-message, and President Armengol has since been reading from the same script. On Wednesday, the president and minister met with tourism head honchos, i.e. the bosses of the big hotel chains, and the president declared a better than expected season on account of the recovery of two-thirds of 2019's tourists.

A result or not?

Numbered among these bosses was Simón Pedro Barceló, who had been chief harbinger of 2021 season doom. Does he now have to eat his words? It depends on whether attaining some 60% of pre-Covid tourism represents a result or not. On balance, and given the uncertainties that have clouded the season, it probably does.

Meanwhile, businesses devastated by the pandemic who have been waiting for handouts from the Spanish government-provided 855 million euros aid package were still waiting. Minister Negueruela promised to speed things up and provide aid which may not be better than expected but nevertheless had been expected to materialise somewhat earlier than it has.

It's a washout

August drew to a close, September started, and down came the rain - bang on cue. Magalluf's Punta Ballena, we were informed, was a "washout". Was this because of the downpour or a season that had not been better than expected? If it was the latter, businesses in Magalluf, as elsewhere on the island, will be hoping for an extended season. Everyone was saying that there needed to be one and that the key to this extension was "air connectivity" - flights, in other words.

Invasion on two wheels

Airlines will be flying in what was described as an "invasion" of cyclists. With cycling tourism having been mostly paralysed for eighteen months, news of a reactivation will have been greeted with horror by some and joy by others. By the middle of November, it was reckoned, some 20,000 cyclists will have descended on the island. And the middle of November will almost certainly be as far as seasonal extension stretches; much as it had pre-Covid.

When protest is futile

There was a further relaxation of Covid measures. Numbers at bar and restaurant tables increased, and youthful miscreants determined to have a botellón were able to until two in the morning. The nighttime social gathering ban, a sort of curfew, may well be lifted completely this week. The Covid incidence rate continued to tumble.

Although hospitality isn't completely back to normal, it's not far off. Another protest against restrictions did therefore seem a little futile. The fact that only three people turned up to shout for the president's resignation outside the government's HQ did rather highlight this futility. One of the three was Victor Sánchez, organiser of the big protests when they meant something. He announced his intention to run as mayor of Palma, a promise that probably isn't causing José Hila sleepless nights.

Agents of disappearing restrictions

The government's insistence on pushing ahead with the creation of so-called Covid agents also seemed somewhat futile. Back-up to local police, these agents will assist with Covid compliance. As most restrictions have gone, as summer is coming to an end and the beaches will require less capacity monitoring, are these agents really necessary? The police and some mayors aren't altogether enamoured of this scheme. There is a concern about training, while the agents - who won't have regular police powers - are indicative of the problem regarding a shortage of qualified officers in many municipalities.

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