Thursday, March 23, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 March 2017

Morning high (7.05am): 13.1C
Forecast high: 20C; UV: 4
Three-day forecast: 24 March - Rain, 15C; 25 March - Cloud, sun, 19C; 26 March - Sun, cloud, 20C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southwest 3 to 4 occasionally 5.

The morning due to be sunny. Clouding over later. Rain very likely tomorrow.

Another First For Alaró



Alaró. What do we know of it? It has a castle. It was the first place in Mallorca to get electricity. The citizens not so long ago took part in a referendum to allow women to be part of the cossiers folk dance troupe. Its first woman mayor took office in 2015. It will have the Balearics first black mayor - Guillem Balboa - later this year. A municipality of firsts, it generally, one might suggest, has a fairly genteel image, as in being free of any associated vulgarities as opposed to being populated by the gentry (save some maybe).

Alaró is therefore not a Magalluf. It would be impossible for it be anyway, given that it doesn't have a coast. Instead, it nestles quietly by the Tramuntana, which cliché demands that it should do. Villages overlooked by mountains are required to nestle. That's all they do.

Unfortunately for Alaró, this carefully carved-out reputation has been shattered. It has joined the ranks of Magalluf (of which one must say, of course, that this is pre-transformation Magalluf). It has attained a new first. It is the first village nestling in the Tramuntana foothills to grab the attention of The Sun and The Daily Mail, except when either of these may have published a travel article describing the pleasures of Mallorcan foothill nestling. The genteel, free of vulgarities image has been destroyed by scenes reminiscent of most nights in Magalluf (sorry, pre-transfomation Magalluf).

The Sun usefully informed its readers of the "shocking moment" that a mass brawl broke out between parents at a kids' football match. Mums screamed "in horror" and scrambled "to protect children from fighting dads". Goodness me, Alaró, what have you done? There's Biel Barceló going on about non-beach tourism, lauding the alternatives of cultural, heritage and nature tourism, facilitating the arrival of inland holiday rentals, and what happens? A village symbolic of all this alternative tourism has threatened the promotional drive by engaging in a re-enactment of Punta Ballena. One thing's for sure. If Alaró signs up to the sports tourism niche as a means of tackling seasonality, it'll carefully sidestep any mention of football.

This is of course greatly exaggerated, as was perhaps a headline in the local press which referred to a scandal with global repercussion. This repercussion will mostly have involved avid social network users having a good laugh. Which isn't to condone what happened, just that values are what they have become. Moreover, it's not as if it is unheard of for parents to get out of hand at kids' football matches. The difference in this instance is that parents behaving badly has gone viral.

The immediate victims of the "mass brawl" (what actually constitutes a mass?) were the Alaró boys. The team has been withdrawn. There again, the boys aren't entirely victims. Certain players face expulsion from the team, such as one seen kicking a man who was on the ground. It might be noted that the whole incident kicked off when an Alaró player chased a Collerense youngster and kicked him. Alaró had already had a player sent off as well as their trainer. The referee had apparently asked for the police to be called fifteen minutes before the brawl broke out. He sensed that there was an inflamed atmosphere.

As a consequence of what took place the public prosecutor is involved, as is the Guardia Civil, the national government's delegation to the Balearics as well as the Balearic Islands Football Federation's Anti-Violence Commission. Fines of up to 10,000 euros could be handed out. There is the threat of possible custodial sentences. And all because of a football match involving 12 and 13 year olds in the Regional Second Division, Group E.

The government and the Council of Mallorca both rushed to condemn Sunday's events. "Values" to be acquired through sport are important, said Biel Barceló in his vice-presidential guise. The Council was at pains to explain that it has a whole project aimed at inculcating these values through sport and at holding workshops to try and prevent violence.

Values, and good ones, are there to be attained, but there are other values being pursued - monetary, fame and celebrity. When the likes of Talk Sport, rather than indulging in shouting, stop and have sensible discussions about football, a subject that comes up is the behaviour of parents. When did they start behaving badly? Around the time when big bucks for junior players loomed. Allied to this are the values displayed on football pitches. Jamie Vardy has been praised in some quarters for having been cute enough in ensuring Samir Nasri was sent off. There are so many other examples.

As a local journalist has written, none of the kids last Sunday will become Messi. But such are the distorted values, that is the parental ambition. Poor Alaró. What had it done to deserve its global repercussion?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 March 2017

Morning high (7.40am): 10.3C
Forecast high: 20C; UV: 5
Three-day forecast: 23 March - Sun, cloud, 19C; 24 March - Rain, 15C; 25 March - Cloud, 18C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southeast 2 to 3 occasionally Northeast.

Another fine morning. Southerlies contributing to quite a warm day. That rain on Friday is still looking likely.

Evening update (20.00): Clouded over somewhat in the afternoon. High of 22.2C.

The Property Wild West

Tourism minister Biel Barceló does not wish to hinder economic activity in Mallorca's interior municipalities. Hindrance, as much as possible, will therefore be removed under legislation governing holiday rentals. The principle of zoning, by which municipalities with heavy tourist dependence are lumped together with those without this dependence, will almost certainly be prejudicial to the expansion (in legal, registered terms) of these rentals in tourist resorts. The more micro zoning, that within municipalities, will in all likelihood place greater restraints.

The devil will be in the detail that the Council of Mallorca has yet to reveal. It is responsible for eight zones on the island. Palma is looking after itself. Whatever the outcome of this zoning, the government, i.e. Barceló, states that the objective will be to ensure that ordinary people are able to find somewhere to live, especially those who work in the tourism sector and mostly only in the season (the definition of which is now being stretched because of its lengthening).

If the government said this when it first announced its intention to legislate, then it certainly didn't speak loudly about the issue of accommodation. It was not, so it seemed, top of the agenda. It has been forced onto the government by the scares over a shortage bordering on non-existence of accommodation and the advance of so-called gentrification - the takeover by tourists and by wealthy incomers buying up properties, partly (mainly?) for tourist rental purposes.

The government has reacted to these scares. It may now claim to be taking proactive measures, but that is spin. Residents associations, pressure groups and certain town halls were the ones who highlighted the problems, to which the government has now reacted through its words regarding the legislation. There aren't housing issues in interior municipalities, so these municipalities - within reason and legislative requirements - can have holiday rentals: proper, registered, legal rentals. The housing issues are in the resorts. The legislation may deprive them of the registered rentals, but it won't stop tourist rentals. The government's words are just that, unless mechanisms are in place. These involve, for instance, a reform of the tenancy act, something which is essential. The government, though, has to wait on Madrid for such a reform, which may not be forthcoming.

Barceló and the government have a growing crisis on their hands. More than one. Hackneyed expression it is but there is a perfect storm. Airbnb is not the sole factor by any means. Shortage of affordable housing is another. But even if there were more, where would be the guarantee that it would be purchased for residential use and by residents of these islands? What guarantee might there be of it being for residential renting? There is none. Speculation for tourism purposes is not confined to the higher end of the market.

The property developers bemoan a situation by which there is little scope for affordable developments. While they do this with a certain amount of self-interest, they have fewer problems (seemingly) with the higher end of the market. Let me cite an example. On an urbanisation in Playa de Muro, two luxury properties - totally out of keeping architecturally with others - have risen up on a plot once occupied by a bungalow. A neighbour describes the development as "a disaster". There is a sign which gives contact details. These are summer-season holiday rentals. The character of the urbanisation is altering. It has long had second homes, but one-time second homes are now being turned over to tourist rental.

A further factor is foreign buying. In certain parts of Palma which aren't considered the most desirable, we learn that there is increased demand from foreign buyers. The town hall talks vaguely about ensuring the co-existence of the neighbourhoods. But how does it do this? It has no mechanism to regulate who buys what. The same applies elsewhere. The level of foreign buying is lauded because of a beneficial economic impact. But at what cost socially? And for what purpose?

The situation with accommodation has become particularly acute in Ibiza; it is out of control. At the weekend there was a demonstration. It called on governments - regional and the Council of Ibiza - to apply laws. Left-wing administrations have been in power for almost two years and have barely addressed the issues of the increasing accommodation crisis, of the loophole offered by the tenancy act and blatant illegalities. Demands for rent are scandalously high. The shortage of places is such that Aena has been unable to recruit because of the cost of renting, assuming there is availability. Small wonder, therefore, that Barceló has been shaken into saying what he now is regarding the purpose of the legislation.

Allowing towns like Sineu to have a few holiday rentals will make no difference. Something very much more fundamental is demanded. Will government have the guts? Words aren't much good, especially when they are reactive.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 March 2017

Morning high (7.06am): 7.2C
Forecast high: 20C; UV: 5
Three-day forecast: 22 March - Cloud, sun, 20C; 23 March - Cloud, sun, 19C; 24 March - Rain, 15C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 2 to 3 mainly East up to midday, veering South during the afternoon.

Cloudless sky. Another fine day to come.

Evening update (20.00): High of 22.1C.

Pop-Ups For Mallorca?

In 2009, and so against a background of economic crisis, the market research consultancy Euromonitor presented a report at London's World Travel Market which identified new tourist industry opportunities. One was for "eco-luxury". A second was the "nano-break" of only one day or perhaps two. The third was the "pop-up hotel". This was essentially a type of prefab that could be put up at small cost. It was particularly attractive, it was said, to Generation Y, aka the Millennials, defined - insofar as there is an accurate definition (which there isn't) - as those born between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s.

These three opportunities have in a sense all collided, although the break is generally not "nano"; it's more likely to be longer. But it was nano enough at what was one of the first examples of a luxury, ecologically designed pop-up hotel. This was at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival. It was a giant tent - a luxury one.

The point about Glastonbury is that, while the Millennials will go, so also do other generations. The previous one - Generation X - is sometimes also referred to as the MTV Generation: music therefore. The one before Generation X is the baby boomers, who grew up with The Beatles, Motown and the Summer of Love.

Marketing loves to categorise generations according to aspirations, attributes and attitudes. As products of their times, generations do have different characteristics, but to assign them to everyone is just plain daft. It is also daft to assume that previous generations don't have some of these characteristics as well, and in tourism terms, the desire for "experiences" and for seeking out something different and alternative cuts right across generations.

Whichever generation, where the pop-up hotel is concerned, it helps to have a fair amount of disposable income. One of the leaders in the market is the UK travel company Black Tomato. It has a brand called Blink, as in blink and you'll miss it. According to the company's co-founder Tom Marchant, Blink offers 751,074,508,800 possible combinations to choose from in selecting and designing holidays: I'll take his word for it. The ultimate in customisation, Blink offers personalised pop-ups that come at a pretty hefty price. Four nights (so not quite nano) in "lunar-like bubbles" on the Salar de Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia costs six people a staggering 167,800 euros, to which the cost of transport has to be added.

As part of the ecological equation, the pop-up installations leave no trace of there having been there. I have to say that I don't know how they deal with issues such as, well waste, but I'm guessing that's all been thought about. But pop-ups don't have to be here today-gone tomorrow. In Tel Aviv, they've created the first pop-up hotel in a beach lifeguards' tower. Transformed into an ocean-front suite, it forms part of a tourism campaign by the city and the Israeli ministry of tourism.

It seems instructive that government should be supportive of this scheme. Israel is therefore not quite the same as Mallorca. When I became aware of the bubbles in Bolivia, my first thought - on seeing them on the salt flat - turned to Mallorca. If someone came up with an idea like the bubbles, everyone would have a screaming fit. And everyone would include environmentalist groups. That first thought was quickly followed by last summer's memory of the so-called privatisation of the beach in Cabrera by people who had hired a superyacht. The bubbles may be eco-friendly, but in Mallorca, the eco-brigades would cry foul. And which, among all the governmental agencies that exist in Mallorca, would ever give permission? The answer is almost certainly none of them.

The thing with Mallorca is that it doesn't do alternatives. Airbnb, with a good deal of justification it has to be said, is being demonised for offering alternatives. Nevertheless, there is opposition just because it isn't the same. And this can also be said of the tents and tree house offered via Airbnb that have attracted publicity in the past few days. These have been greeted with "horror", so it is being said.

Apart from any regulatory issues, this camping has been criticised as an example of attracting less than quality tourism, i.e. people who don't spend money. But who says that they don't spend? Moreover, the tents demonstrate that there is a demand for the alternative, something which Mallorca cannot tolerate. If it did, the legislative obstacles to establishing campsites set out over thirty years ago would not have been raised.

Had the tents not been just tents but pop-ups such as the Bolivian ones, would there be the same horror? Yes. The tourists would undoubtedly be "quality" because of their money, but Mallorca wouldn't want them or permit them.

Image of the pop-ups on the Salar de Uyuni salt flat from https://www.blacktomato.com/blink/

Monday, March 20, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 March 2017

Morning high (7.33am): 10.2C
Forecast high: 21C; UV: 4
Three-day forecast: 21 March - Sun, cloud, 19C; 22 March - Sun, cloud, 19C; 23 March - Cloud, 17C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South-Southwest 2 to 3 backing Northeast around midday.

Spring officially starts (Spanish time) at 11.29 this morning.

A bank of light cloud but the sun's out: a warmer morning. Forecast for later in the week not looking too good at present - rain possible by Thursday or Friday and temperature dropping.

Evening update (19.30): High of 22.4C. Felt warmer.

The Island Of Everlasting Spring

The Balearic Tourism Agency's Better in Winter promotional campaign isn't wholly about winter. Although it doesn't mention summer (well, it wouldn't, would it), the campaign branches out into the two remaining seasons. In actual fact, there is an acknowledgement of summer because there is a slogan lurking which suggests that Mallorca is ideal at any time of the year.

It can appear as if the agency is somewhat confused as to what it is actually promoting. There again, where winter is concerned, the season has long been used as local shorthand for anything which isn't summer; itself defined, confusingly enough, as May to October.

The apparent neglect of spring and autumn comes about purely because of the holiday seasons. There is summer and there is not-summer, aka winter, the one which the agency is insisting is better (however it might actually be defined). There is a coy promotional acknowledgement in being "ideal at any time of the year" that summer does exist: coy because the agency (and tourism ministry and indeed whole regional government) would rather like there to be fewer summer tourists and more winter tourists.

This confusion of seasons (and messages) is currently intended to promote all the wonders of Mallorca which aren't only to be found on a beach and under a blazing July sun. But there is, you may be unsurprised to know, absolutely nothing new with what the tourism agency is saying.

If one goes back to around the end of the 1950s, Mallorca was beginning to enjoy its purely summer sun-and-beach reputation. The boom had yet to really happen, but already there were attempts to diversify tourism across the seasons. The Fomento del Turismo (Mallorca Tourist Board), then responsible for promotion, produced a couple of posters. One, with fishing boats in the foreground and Palma Cathedral in the background, said: "You will also prefer Mallorca in the winter." The other, with a Tramuntana mountain and sea image, announced: "Visit Mallorca at any time of the year."

Nothing has therefore changed, only the political thinking behind promotional campaigns. But even getting on for 60 years ago, the two seasons of spring and autumn found it hard to make their presence known. If one goes back over the decades, there is little which has ever expressly promoted either season. There was one campaign, though, and it wasn't Mallorca-driven. It was by the airline Iberia.

I'm unsure when this campaign was developed. It is quite possible that it coincided with the elimination of visa requirements for US visitors coming to Spain. That was in 1953. The following year, an amendment to international rules for civil aviation, was good news for Spain. Charter planes were permitted. Iberia responded by expanding its fleet principally for transatlantic flights.

The poster for this campaign featured a lady in a swimsuit, an almond tree in early blossom (at least I think that's what it's meant to be), the sea and a plane. The slogan read - "Mallorca, island of everlasting spring" - and yes, it was Mallorca with two l's. This may, I'm guessing, be because it wasn't aimed at the British. (The almond blossom, incidentally, is included in a very similar way to which the artist Erwin Hubert had used it in a scene from the early 1930s.)

Why use spring, though? Well, let's face it you wouldn't promote everlasting autumn or winter. Everlasting summer? Not really no. Spring is a bit farfetched when it is reaching a hundred in mid-summer or when the island is being battered by January winds and drowning under floods, but spring does perhaps lend itself to a more accurate impression of the climate when the year is taken as a whole. On average, the temperatures are springlike.

You may not know that 21 March is World Poetry Day. It marks the start of spring. And in Mallorca this is pertinent. Some of the finest poetry has been inspired by spring, and one of the finest and most famous poems is Miquel Costa i Llobera's El Pi de Formentor, the Pine of Formentor.

Costa i Llobera's pine withstands all seasons and all that can be thrown at it by the weather. It isn't a poem, therefore, about spring as such. The poet loves a tree. He says as much. This tree is older than an olive. It is mightier than an oak. It is greener than an orange. It is the pine and its leaves conserve something. They conserve eternal spring. Eternal or everlasting? Maybe someone at Iberia had read a poem.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 March 2017

Morning high (7.36am): 7C
Forecast high: 20C; UV: 5
Three-day forecast: 20 March - Sun, cloud, 20C; 21 March - Sun, cloud, 20C; 22 March - Sun, cloud, 19C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): West 2 to 3 temporarily Northeast 3 in the afternoon.

And one more time ... . Spring officially starts tomorrow but is already here, even if it's distinctly nippy first thing.

Evening update (19.30): High of 23.8C. Lovely day.

Balti's Little Red Book

It may well have been the first time that each parliamentarian reached for his or her Little (Reddish) Book. Obligatory reading it quite possibly is, but who ever complies with such obligation? They will from now on, rather in the way that Dylan Hartley promised to make the rules of rugby his bedside companion following the Italian (First Half) Job.

The whole episode stirred memories of the students' union past. Back in the day, Mao's Little Red Book was mandatory for all of a Maoist persuasion and even some who were not. The book would ostentatiously be laid on a junior common room bar table, while its owner ferreted for some scarce loose change with which to pay for a pint of Maoist Mitchell's bitter.

There was another book, one reserved only for the wise elders of the students' union. This was the constitution book. It itemised rules that had to be obeyed or conveniently ignored. Into the latter category fell "ultra vires" payments, an arcane matter that was nevertheless hauled out at every meeting. Could the Iranian 91 (or numerous alternatives) receive union funds or not? Very few students, bar the elders, gave a toss whether they could or couldn't.

Far greater observance was paid to the holding of meetings. Rules were there to be adhered to in order that Marxist-Leninists, Trotskyists, Maoists and other-ists were given their due time to apply and spout ideological thinking to the price of meat and two veg in the university refectories. The point having been, you see, that those of solidly left-wing convictions did things by the book (when it suited them).

Thus it was with Balti the other day. Rules contained in parliament's Little (Reddish) Book, which no one other than Balti had obviously read, permit the speaker to eject the citizens and the media if a matter affecting parliament's "decorum" is to be debated. The decorum in this instance had to do with the PP's Álvaro Gijón. Fellow Podemosites - Jarabo and The Boot Girl - had set up the chance to give Gijón a good booting. It wasn't to be in public, decreed Balti. The book says no.

Parties were unanimous in criticising Balti's observance of the letter of the rules. Those to the right were less willing to forgive. Balti had acted with "authoritarianism". He was "incompetent". Such reaction was entirely to have been expected. The opposition hadn't wanted Balti to succeed Xe-Lo Huertas. His qualification for the position was being drawn into question, as it had been prior to his election. What can a metalbasher, or whatever he was in a former life, know about parliamentary protocol? And one, moreover, who looks as if he still inhabits student unions circa the mid-1970s. Well, a great deal more than those whose qualifications for parliamentary life normally involve their having been lawyers, geographers or pharmacists, especially the latter. Or so it appeared.

Further criticism suggested that rather than parliament being open to the citizens in a participative, Podemos manner, it was being closed. We were thus to presume that Podemos say one thing and do the precise opposite. Which was nonsense. Balti was merely maintaining a tradition of hard-leftist application of rules, though he says he wouldn't do it in quite the same way the next time.

Frankly, it was a fuss about very little. And perhaps Balti had done the legal process and the odd parliamentarian a favour. A public airing of thoughts about Gijón might be less than wise, given that he has been implicated in various corruption allegations. He has also hinted that he is not above seeing in court anyone who voices allegations. Balti did right. Or was it left? Or was it neither?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 March 2017

Morning high (6.41am): 5.7C
Forecast high: 19C; UV: 5
Three-day forecast: 19 March - Sun, 21C; 20 March - Sun, cloud, 21C; 21 March - Sun, cloud, 19C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South-Southeast 2 to 3 veering West in the afternoon.

More of the same. Fine and sunny with light breezes.

Evening update (20.00): High of 22.9C.

Arguing Over Price: Hotels v. Tour Operators

The hoteliers and the tour operators have been at it. Rather, they were at it a week ago in Berlin. The hoteliers haven't let things lie, though. They've been keeping things on the boil.

This is an unseemly spat between the two primary institutions of the tourism industry. Or are they? It is a row which does at least owe something to the diminished roles of both. The hoteliers are assaulted by Airbnb. The tour operators carve out nothing like the percentage of the market they once did. It was a Mallorcan hotelier who called Tui a dinosaur this week. He could have said the same about his industry.

It is a row which on the surface is easy to figure out. Mallorca's hoteliers up their prices. The tour operators say their customers (Germans) can't afford these prices. It is less easy to figure out when one goes beneath the surface of the headlines. These are the same tour operators which were grabbing all the places that were available for this year because demand was going (is going) to be so high. The hoteliers said as much, and they were only too happy to tag along. Get exclusive deals, and the job's done.

The beef with the hoteliers' prices didn't just suddenly arise in Berlin last week. If it had previously, then it was when contractual arrangements were being made for this year. They weren't made in Berlin; they were months ago. The tour operators knew the prices, especially their UK divisions. What was it that the hoteliers intimated? If the UK tour operators don't like our prices, we'll sell to tour operators from elsewhere. The German wings seemed only too happy to oblige.

The statements by the tour operators can be explained in different ways. One is that they genuinely are aghast at the higher prices, though this takes some accepting, given that the prices have been known about and factored in. The second is that the tour operators are telling consumers that they shouldn't blame them for higher prices; it's the hoteliers' fault. The third is if the tour operators haven't passed on the prices. If not, then their margins are seriously eroded.

The likes of Tui and Thomas Cook took big hits last year, mainly because of Turkey. It was noticeable that Turkey wasn't being bigged up in Berlin; it was Egypt. That destination may be recovering, but it is still only a modest recovery, and the tour operators have admitted as much. Turkey remains flat, and they know it, because again their own figures suggest this.

Mallorca helped to salvage tour operators' 2016 summers. With the hoteliers seeking payback for the profit flatlining which occurred for several years of crisis, they decided to over-indulge themselves this year, content in the knowledge that the tour operators had been saying all the right things; which they had been. There wasn't going to be a sudden massive revival in the eastern Med trouble spots this summer.

The tour operators, meanwhile, were needing to recoup 2016 losses. With hotel prices going up, the potential for doing this was reduced, if these prices were not wholly passed on. Their spokespeople will have had shareholders whispering in their ears. Senior management will have been taking some fright. One might recall the bashing that Thomas Cook took from shareholders over salaries, especially given the losses it reported.

Both parties have therefore been engaged in the politics of tourism - their own. Ultimately, they both need each other, but different dynamics have changed this historical relationship. There are more holidays for sale than there were twenty years ago, but the tour operators' share of the market has dropped significantly in relative terms. The hoteliers, if not tied by exclusive deals that the tour operators have signed, have the direct channels to sell through or the online agencies.

The relationship may have been weakened, but in another way it has been strengthened, and that is through the investment which tour operators have themselves poured in to hotels. They are not about to see that go west. And the hoteliers, meanwhile, protest that investment (from whatever source) has been made so that quality is raised. The price-quality ratio has therefore been raised: both the price and the quality. Unfortunately for the hoteliers, surveys don't necessarily bear this out. Mallorca's quality hasn't, when tourists are surveyed, leapt up. And this can partially be explained by all the tourists who have been "borrowed" from Egypt and Turkey. They have experienced quality-plus. Mallorca is playing catch-up with quality.

The hoteliers and the tour operators will stick to their sides of the argument, aware that they still have a reliance on each other.

Friday, March 17, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 March 2017

Morning high (7.13am): 5.5C
Forecast high: 20C; UV: 5
Three-day forecast: 18 March - Sun, 20C; 19 March - Sun, 21C; 20 March - Sun, cloud, 23C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 2 to 3, temporarily Northeast around midday.

Happy St. Paddy's. Cold start. Not cold later. All looking good for the weekend.

Evening update (20.00): High of 22.2C.

The B-Word And Brits on Holiday

Brexit. Aaargh! There you are, it's been forced out of me. I took a vow under oath to never mention it. So much for vows. So much for hoping that the B-word is all a charade dreamt up by fake news. There is no B-word. The B-exit will not happen. There never was a referendum. There never was a European Union. Can Donald Trump confirm any of this? Paul Mason, he who was responsible for the excellent Panorama thing about Spanish profligacy and the economic crisis, recently described Trump as a lying fantasist. Sounds good to me. Come on, Donald, tell us that the B-word is fake after all.

In the absence of such confirmation, we have to suppose that the B-word exists and that the B-exit will come to pass. For those who have devoted so many words to dissecting and analysing the B-word, this will come as a relief. What would they have otherwise been doing for the past ... past, how long is it now?

Experts. So many experts. So many inexpert experts. Let's take one strand of expertise or inexpertise, shall we? How about tourism? The impact of the B-word on tourism, British tourism. You do know, don't you, that when the process that trigger-happy Theresa will article-ate is completed, there won't be any more British tourists. You didn't know?

This is a conclusion at the extreme wing of expertise; otherwise known as complete nonsense. The navel of post-exit British tourism has been gazed into on a regular basis, as has the same navel of pre-exit. Why should things change dramatically or have been changing? The only matter of any significance thus far has been the exchange rate. Yet even that isn't highly significant. British tourists have known poor exchange rate days in the past. They come anyway.

Iago Negueruela is the Balearic minister for employment, trade and industry. He strikes me as one of the more sensible people who govern the islands. Regarding tourism and the B-word, he has said that there will "still be tourists". Iago is a sort of expert, though not as much as his boffin economic affairs adviser, Llorenç Pou, but his simple analysis and the use of "still" cuts through the nonsense. Of course there will still be tourists, and their numbers may not substantially differ to what they are at present.

As others have observed, Mallorca is a convenient hop of a couple of hours by plane. Despite hotelier avarice and all that, despite exchange rates, holidaymakers value time as much as money. They can't wait to get on the beach, to get by the poolside, to get out the claim form for a fake bout of gastroenteritis. Someone noted the other day, apropos the so-called tourist resort bus services (so-called, because they aren't), that holidaymakers have no great desire to be taken on mystery trips of the Mallorcan countryside when they should be steaming towards Cala Millor or Alcudia. Time is holiday money. The quicker the better.

Ah, but in the post-exit universe there will be difficulties with travel. Really? Will Spain come up with an arrangement as daft as it has managed to with Russian travellers? A new contract with an Indian company that sorts out visas has reduced the number of cities in Russia to less than a handful where visas can be obtained. But why any talk of visas? They won't be required. Besides, if travel is currently so difficult to destinations outside the EU, why are all those British tourists heading to Turkey. Or were heading there before they took fright at the prospect of terrorism.

Negueruela might be slightly more alarmed by what experts are suggesting could happen with European funding. This in itself has an impact on tourism, as European funds help with certain projects. When the UK closes its Brussels account, the funds will be deprived of however many billions currently flow into the account. Regions of Spain will therefore lose out. If this is the case, then they'd better ensure they get the hurry-up with restoring Inca's theatre: it's a Euro theatre, half of it anyway and vital for future cultural tourism. Possibly.

More damaging potentially would be the impact on Palma. It's a Euro city, such are the demands made on Brussels. Will it sink into the sea when the (British) money dries up? Unlikely.  

Nevertheless, it is probably wise to have some contingency. Experts suggest that the Balearic economy could contract by as much (?) as 0.6% because of the ultimate impact of the B-word. Tourism markets therefore need to be diversified. Very sensible, but has there not been a process of diversification for some time? Ask Magalluf, for instance.

There you are then. If you want to know more, consult an expert. I promise not to mention the B-word again.