National Police in Playa de Palma. | José Antonio Ramírez

Tough on crime, but how tough?

New administrations at town halls are really keen to highlight how tough they are on crime. Tougher than their predecessor administrations, that is, which in the case of both Calvia and Palma means new and tougher administrations of the right rather than older and weaker administrations of the left. Or so they will obviously maintain.

In Palma, barely a week has passed recently without a report of excesses (mostly of the tourist variety) in Playa de Palma and a lament concerning the lack of police. Perhaps in response to these reports, we were informed that the joint National and Palma Police summer operation has so far resulted in over 400 arrests. There are joint plainclothes patrols - Palma maybe wishing to point out that Calvia isn't the only municipality with these - while the number of uniformed patrols has increased. Excellent. But there was just one thing. How do the over 400 arrests compare with previous summers? Are they more, fewer, the same? Context is needed for us to be able to judge.

Arrested, but then what?

The main crime, it was noted, is theft - pickpocketing, grabbing bags and possessions on the beach. But once the arrests are made, what happens? All too often, or it can seem, offenders are back on the streets and beaches in no time. The National Police arrested three individuals last Friday for various thefts. On one occasion, they got into a beach club in Cala Estancia and nicked valuables and cash with a total value of some 100,000 euros. In the report of their arrests, there was mention of the fact that, between them, the three have been arrested on thirty occasions.

Illegal selling diversifies

Illegal selling wasn't specified among the 400+ arrests in Playa de Palma. But there must have been some and are likely to be more as the illegal selling has diversified into a way of getting round the tourism of excesses law. Tourist supermarkets are generally abiding by the rule that they cannot sell or even display alcohol from 9.30pm to 8am. Illegal sellers are therefore filling the void. Carrying buckets of beer and bags with bottles of other alcohol, they have become key suppliers to tourists (mainly young ones) engaged in street drinking gatherings, which are themselves illegal.

In Calvia, we do at least know how many arrests there have been this summer for illegal selling - 61. As of last weekend, there had been 157 arrests in all? 157? Playa de Palma has had more than 400. Of other reasons for arrest, it would seem that there had been 25 for theft. Or were these specifically thefts from beaches? It was hard to tell. Anyway, the police say that putting an end to theft on the beaches is "one of our priorities". Again, excellent, but as with Playa de Palma we were none the wiser as to how these arrests compared with past seasons.

Fines for 'balconing'

We have also learned that five foreign tourists - four British, one Swedish - have been done for 'balconing' in Magalluf. What we don't know is how the fines - 36,000 euros each - are being paid. And nor do we know how the five cases compare with the past. One thing is for sure and that is that there haven't been any injuries or fatalities in Magalluf this summer as a consequence of balconing. The only balcony fall in Mallorca that has resulted in injury and which has definitely been attributed to balconing - moving from one balcony to another - has been in Can Picafort.

A truly appalling case

Balconing can be very serious if there are injuries or worse. But just as serious, in a different way, has been the Magalluf gang rape case. Six arrests were made last week and two more Frenchmen were arrested in France last Sunday. The fact that eight men were involved rather than six was one of the pieces of information about the case to have filtered out over the past days. Another had to do with what the Guardia Civil believe was the deliberate intention of three of the eight to get the 18-year-old British woman so drunk that we shouldn't have been in any state to defend herself.

The Guardia say these three, who met her in a bar, were the ones who initiated the assault in a hotel room and that they invited others, who they didn't know, to come in and get some "free sex". It is a truly appalling case.

How much compensation is appropriate?

Still in Magalluf, the Provincial Court in Palma has finally resolved a compensation case that dates back to July 2018. Dillon Connery from Paisley, then 18, was hit in the face at point-blank range by a paint bag from a paint gun on the stage at a Magalluf club. He was at the club because it had paint parties - it still does by the way. The paint itself is harmless, but Mr. Connery was blinded in both eyes by the impact. A surgeon was to say that he had never seen anything like the injuries he suffered.

Compensation of 3,000 euros was initially awarded. On appeal, the Provincial Court increased this to 300,000 euros, half of which has already been paid by the club's insurance company. The club itself will have to pay the rest. Doctors feel that Mr. Connery may regain partial sight in one eye, but whether he does or he doesn't, 300,000 euros may not sound like a lot. Mind you, it's far better than the derisory 3,000.

Saturated by tourists

Calvia and Palma have more tourist accommodation places than other municipalities in Mallorca but these places don't mean that they are the municipalities most "saturated" by tourists.

The Munich-based Holidu holiday rentals agency has produced different studies regarding saturation, the calculations having been a comparison between the total number of tourists and the size of the population. One of these shows that Palma isn't among Europe's top-ten most saturated cities - Dubrovnik is the most saturated.

Another indicates that Sant Llorenç is the most saturated municipality in Mallorca and the third most saturated in the whole of Spain - 190,459 tourists for one year of the study against a resident population of 8,920. Parts of Cala Millor and S'Illot are in Sant Llorenç, where - as was revealed by a study by the National Statistics Institute that was published in May - there is the highest number of tourist accommodation places relative to the number of residents in Mallorca's coastal municipalities: three times as many.

Everywhere's getting more expensive

Cala Millor is one of the resorts that is particularly popular with German visitors. But might German holidaymakers be opting in future for a resort in their own country rather than in Mallorca? A new tourism complex is being developed in Grömitz on the Baltic coast and will be ready by 2025.

Some Germans may be attracted by this. However, it has long been the case that Baltic and North Sea destinations have appealed to German holidaymakers. In fact, the likes of the islands of Rügen and Sylt have gone increasingly upmarket. They have become more and more expensive. Sounds familiar? Well, according to the Palma-based Hotelbeds, one of the world's largest bed banks, a 20% rise in hotel and restaurant prices in Mallorca over the past two years isn't deterring tourism. Hotelbeds points to a 20% increase in demand for "room nights" this summer by comparison with 2022.

German flights - especially in winter

The Lufthansa subsidiary, Eurowings, has increased its number of weekly flights to Mallorca this summer from 400 to 450. Economic conditions in Germany, which had been expected to slow demand for Mallorca, haven't had too much of an impact, and Eurowings will be laying on ever more flights this autumn and winter. "Winter looks great on the island," says CEO Jens Bischof.

Flights from German airports have been crucial in maintaining what low season there is in Mallorca. This has been the case for many years, Eurowings having partially plugged the gap that was left by Air Berlin. Once the number-one airline at Palma Son Sant Joan Airport in terms of numbers of flights and passengers, Air Berlin ceased operations six years ago. But it looks as if the airline may be about to return. The brand name has been acquired from the bankruptcy administrator by an airline called Sundair, in which the tour operator Schauinsland-Reisen has a 50% shareholding.