Tuesday, March 28, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 28 March 2017

Morning high (7.15am): 13C
Forecast high: 18C; UV: 5
Three-day forecast: 29 March - Sun, 20C; 30 March - Sun, 20C; 31 March - Sun, cloud, 20C

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

Plenty of cloud visible as sun comes up. Should go and give a fine and sunny day.

In Praise Of Terraferida

Not everyone likes or will like Terraferida. I don't know that I like them, but that's down to the choice of word. Admire is more appropriate. When they have something to say, they do so with impact. People sit up and take notice. Attention was paid when Terraferida exposed the sewage spill in Albufera, just as it was only some three weeks later when Terraferida highlighted the "occupation" of the Cabrera beach.

The information the group has released about unlicensed rental property in Mallorca that is offered via Airbnb isn't necessarily shocking or revelatory. It is more a confirmation. Some fourteen months ago, the data Terraferida has analysed showed that there were over 11,000 properties which were capable - at a stretch - of providing places for almost 80,000 people. Not all of these properties may still be available. Some may have even acquired a licence in the meantime. But you can be sure that more will have been added.

Setting aside the more bizarre accommodation on offer - caves, a tree house, an igloo, for instance - the bulk of it was apartments or houses. In the case of detached houses, there is nothing stopping an owner, as it stands under existing law, from applying for a tourist rental. Apartments are of course a different matter. They are only legal if there is pretence - the absurd shield that is raised by the tenancy act. This is, as has been suggested by legal minds at the university, a fraud in law. And how many tenancy act contracts are ever actually raised and signed?

Not everyone of course pretends. But many do, and Airbnb, courtesy of its colossal disingenuousness, provides the perfect platform. It doesn't trade in "tourist" accommodation. It is merely a go-between. And its insouciance is laughable. Why should it worry? It doesn't. Technicalities in law mean little, and so users exploit loopholes for all their worth. Some do so and are fully aware of the law - many, if not all Mallorcans, one would suggest. Others, foreigners being among them, are just ignorant of the law or stupid.

A thing with Airbnb, it being a product not only of the "collaborative" economy but also of social media information sharing, is that it is very easy to identify what's going on, if someone cares to look. The tourism ministry may, for example, be interested in what a guest of a certain "property" had to say about being collected from the airport by the owner. The transport ministry may also be interested, to say nothing of the tax agency. Is there a transport licence? Almost certainly not. Does this constitute a service? Yes. Does this service contravene the tenancy act loophole? Yes. Has any of this been declared to the tax agency? Who can say. And who can say whether this tourist service - property and transfer - is the result of blatant thumbing of the nose in the direction of the law, of ignorance of the law or of simple stupidity. The law, though, does not accept ignorance or stupidity as a defence.

Terraferida, somewhat like politicians, makes the point that it is less worried about the small owner: someone with just the single property. It is more concerned, as is the government, with the multiple owner. It cites the example of someone with 632 properties. This again is no real revelation. The government knows that there are such cases. It will now be interesting to learn how the government reacts to the Terraferida information. The group will send it all to the tourism ministry: property locations, property type, names.

The ministry, meanwhile, has its own map. It will make it public. It will show legally registered holiday rentals. While it seems to be at pains to say that this isn't some means of providing a "dobbers' charter", it - and the tax agency - are more than happy for members of the public to provide evidence of fraud. The ministry needs the public. It only has fifteen inspectors, and these inspectors are involved in matters other than holiday rentals.

There are any number of people who will defend the right of rental, even if it flouts the law. Tourists using rented accommodation spend money, unlike all those in all-inclusives. This much is surely true, despite what the Exceltur alliance for touristic excellence (members of which include leading Mallorcan hoteliers) says. Its reports showing lower spend than hotel guests are counter-intuitive. There has to be scope for rentals - legally registered ones, including apartments - but not on the scale that is being witnessed and not with the abuses that are being committed.

Airbnb and other such websites are businesses. Despite their good words and PR, they have facilitated property market distortion and fraud. This comes at a social cost, thus - at best - neutering economic gains. Terraferida should be thanked. The government has some very important legislation to pass. The most important of this administration.

Monday, March 27, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 March 2017

Morning high (7.43am): 11.9C
Forecast high: 19C; UV: 5
Three-day forecast: 28 March - Cloud, 18C; 29 March - Sun, 20C; 30 March - Sun, 22C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Southeast 4 occasionally 5.

Mainly cloudy first thing and likely to remain so until the afternoon.

Evening update (20.00): High of 19.6C. Got better in the afternoon.

The Story Of A Church Organ

A special concert was held at the Sant Antoni parish church in Sa Pobla on Saturday. It was to mark the 300th anniversary of the construction of the church organ. The concert, an organ recital (naturally enough), accompanied by a brass quintet, was a mark of the esteem with which church organs in Mallorca are held: just as much as the churches themselves. By coincidence, there was another event for a church organ on the same evening. A book about the organ of Santa Maria la Major church in Inca was presented; a recital followed.

The parish of Sant Antoni Abat in Sa Pobla dates back to 1357. Building of the current church was started in 1696, work on the bell tower having been started one hundred years previously (that alone took some sixty years to finish).

There was already an organ, for which documentary evidence is available from the start of the seventeenth century. We learn, for instance, that on 4 January 1609 it was decided to pay 30 pounds to the organ carpenter Comes (no Christian name) to give the organ a new varnish. In 1634, there was a visit to the parish by the Bishop of Mallorca, the Catholic Church's "Visitor General" (like a chief inspector) and an advisor to the crown: quite some set of dignitaries therefore. The record of this visit was in the "ordinances" of "La Pobla", as opposed to Sa Pobla, and it was presumably made in order to consider more than just the organ. Anyway, it was agreed that four pounds should be paid for work on the keys and that the work should be completed within two months.

Thirteen years later, there was another visit. This time it seems as if the Visitor General was unaccompanied. The ordinances book was to note that Don Diego Escolano was none too impressed with the organ: it was "badly out of tune". In the intervening thirty-four years, things clearly improved. The bishop (a different one) paid a visit in 1679. The organ, he concluded, was in good condition.

Better condition or not, there was a question as to whether the existing organ was going to be good enough for the new church. Well, if there is to be a new church, it really could do with a brand spanking new organ as well. Which of course is what was eventually agreed.

The new organ was finished in 1717. How long it took to build it isn't certain. The best reckoning is that work took place between 1700 and 1717. What is certain is that the master organ craftsman was Damià Caymari, who had been responsible for a previous organ - that of Nostra Senyora dels Socors in Palma. Damià, it would appear, could well have been the brother of another craftsman (and organist), Jaume Caymari, who in 1700 was paid eighteen pounds for work on the organ - the old one. Although there was a question mark over whether Damià and Jaume were brothers, it is now said that there was a "dynasty" of organ builders called Caymari.

It wasn't to be for more than 250 years that there was real confirmation that Damià had been responsible for both the Sa Pobla and the Palma organs. This was to come from Gerhard Grenzing, who entered the story of the Sa Pobla organ at a time when it was all but dead. The Sa Pobla chronicler Alexandre Ballester wrote that in 1960 the organ sounded awful. The registers were all wrong, the bellows didn't move properly. The grand organ, he said, was destined to a "slow death".

The death seemed to have come when in 1967 the parish acquired an electronic organ. Romanticism as well as the organ were being consigned to the dump of history. However, as with many other things of a traditional nature that were to find rebirth in the aftermath of Franco's death, the organ became the subject of restoration. In 1976, talks started with the master restorer, Grenzing. Two years later, with the support of the Obra Cultural Balear, there were more talks. A budget proposal was made. The rector called for donations, a restoration committee was set up. The town hall was to give money, so were banks, the local farmers cooperative and individuals. It took until 1986 for a definitive contract to be made with Grenzing. The cost was three million pesetas (around 18,000 euros).

On the "Opuslist" for the Gerhard Grenzing company, it says that "an historical organ is like a defenceless living being asking us to respect it as we try to preserve it". In Sa Pobla they did preserve it. This Opuslist of numerous restoration projects still being undertaken has a note which says modestly and simply: Sa Pobla (Mallorca), Spain - Parróquia de Sa Pobla, 1987. Thirty years ago they completed the restoration of the now 300-year-old organ.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 March 2017

Morning high (8.22am): 10.3C
Forecast high: 19C; UV: 5
Three-day forecast: 27 March - Cloud, 19C; 28 March - Cloud, sun, 18C; 29 March - Sun, cloud, 19C

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

The hour has shifted and it's a sunny Sunday morning.

Evening update (19.30): High of 20.6C.

Denouement Day For The PP

Today is D-Day. Domingo Day also known in co-official language terms as Diumenge Day. It will also be Denouement Day. Two one-time friends won't end up killing each other, but one will be the loser of a long and complex affair.

At some point today we will know who will be the new leader of the Partido Popular in the Balearics. I'll bet you can hardly wait to find out. And wait there has been. A very long one. Interminable. Well, not quite, as it terminates today, with one of the candidates due to be terminated. Which one? The bookies will be weeping if the long odds outsider J.R. Bauzá romps to victory. Others will be joining them. Catalanists will be wailing their woes and hurriedly reinstalling the garlic over their portals, lest Count Dracula should darken their doors once more.

Joy, though, might be unconfined in certain quarters: let's call them the hoteliers. J.R. has been going down - in all likelihood - with all guns blazing. One of them has been fired at the tourist tax. Were J.R. to a) become PP president (again) and b) Balearic president (again), he has said that the tourist tax will be the first folly of the Psoemespodemos pact to be ejected with great force into the blue waters of the Med.

The spirit of Jaume Matas would thus be restored, Jaume having taken the legislative knife to the little lamented ecotax in 2003. And in eliminating the tourist tax, J.R. would be having his symbolic retaliation against Psoemespodemos. One of its first acts was to consign the law of symbols to the symbolic junk heap of Castile-Catalan rivalry. The Catalan flag could once more flutter without fetter and fear of ferocious reprisals by anti-Catalanist fundamentalists. Would J.R. and his chums do the conga in the way that Psoemespodemos so embarrassingly did, having removed the symbols law from the statute book?

Well, he would have to be president and have some chums. And they, unfortunately for him, are in comparatively limited supply. But those that there are will be with him all the way at Es Moli d'es Comte, which is the finca pile hosting the PP congress. What a shame they couldn't have waited another week. They could have had their congress at a congress centre. More spirit of Matas would thus have been abroad, though given that the Palacio has now become something of a Psoemespodemos gig (hmm, maybe not Podemos), they would probably have decided otherwise.

Es Moli, from what I can make out (thanks to TripAdvisor), could do with all the PP-ists firing off some five-star reviews. It is ranked 1,487 out of 1,776 restaurants in Palma (de Mallorca). "The political debate was somewhat sterile, but we loved the cabbage rolls with sobrassada." Or whatever. Still, perhaps it's an appropriate gaff for the occasion and for the PP's Count Dracula. The mill of the count. Though for J.R. it may prove to be a millstone too far.

And one of the stones that he insists on dragging around with him is multi-language teaching. What more can he add to the list of teaching languages? What about Uzbek? There must be the odd tourist from Uzbekistan in desperate need of understanding why he must pay the tourist tax. Or how about Klingon? Much more of a laugh than English, that's for sure.

Teaching has been just one of the issues that the local Spanish (and Catalan) media has been dissecting in the lead-up to D-Day. There has been virtually no room for anything else, the photos vying for space with the analysis, the quotes, the interviews. And best of the photos was one for the favourite, Biel Company, There was Biel, surrounded by Biel's Babes, the males pushed to the periphery. And when one of the babes is Marga Prohens, one would have to feel that Biel has it in the bag. Who, let's face it, would knowingly vote against Marga.

In somewhat less frivolous fashion, Company has stated that J.R. is not a company man, as in there's no way he'll be giving J.R. a job if (when) he wins the election. Bauzá, attempting to appear all things to all (company) men and women in the party, has hinted that he might do otherwise were he to win. However, that would be unlikely. One of his parting shots last week was to say of Company that he (Bauzá) made him a minister, he (Bauzá) affiliated Company to the party. "Let each one draw his own conclusions about him." And it's true. He did make him a minister. Company wasn't a PP member as such. He became one later.

Denouement Day is thus highly personal. There may be more than one loser. The PP is threatened with being split in half. Or more like into one third and two thirds.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 March 2017

Morning high (7.12am): 7.7C
Forecast high: 19C; UV: 4
Three-day forecast: 26 March - Sun, 20C; 27 March - Cloud, sun, 20C; 28 March - Cloud, 19C

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

Bright and chilly morning. Fair amount of dampness from yesterday's rain around. Pleasant enough day anticipated. Tomorrow good.

Evening update (19.15): High of 18.2C. Cold wind this evening.

Flights Just Keep On Increasing

Aena has announced that from Sunday, 26 March until 28 October, airlines' programmes provide for almost 29 million passenger places. This doesn't mean that there will be this number of passengers - the figure is for available places - but one needs to consider some context. For the same "summer" period last year, the provision was 26.4 million, a figure which was only slightly higher than the number of passengers who actually passed through the airport during the whole of the year (26.25 million).

When a similar announcement was made last year, the increase in places was over  16%. In the end, actual occupancy was around 80% of the total, but the announcement was enough to set the alarm bells of the "saturationists" ringing. The increased places this year won't all be sold, but whatever the sales may be, it seems quite possible that for the end-March to end-October period, the number of passengers for the whole of last year will be exceeded.

The increase will mainly apply to the spring and autumn months. In fact, the provisions for May are not out of the ordinary. For April and June they are. Easter is a major factor with the former. School holidays in some German states are a key factor in June. So much for German families opting to go elsewhere. But with more routes operating this summer (47 more), there will be more passengers in high summer as well.

However one looks at it, there are going to be ever more tourists this summer. An expectation made last year that the 27 million passengers' figure will be topped for the whole of 2017 can be discarded. It will be many more.

On the one hand, more tourists in the lower months of the summer is very good news. But on the other hand, the political one (and social one), the news is less good. Biel Barceló was talking recently, and somewhat strangely, about fewer numbers of summer tourists. He was plainly wrong, perhaps misinterpreting, as others had, what Tui had said in Berlin. For Barceló, being able to say this was to his political advantage. Now, though, he is going to face the ever greater ire of Podemos and some in his own party (Més). The pressure groups - GOB, Terraferida, etc. - will have a field day. The season hasn't started, but saturation is already with us, and this summer it will be saturation-plus.

The government reaction so far has been to say that an increase in high-summer flights is "unacceptable". There is no room for more tourists in high summer. One can anticipate there being stronger reactions.

Where does it end? It doesn't, it seems. Aena has given mixed messages about increasing flight capacity - one minute it will increase, the other it won't - and precisely why it is investing so heavily in the airport. The belief is that the capacity will rise to eighty flights per hour at some point. To cope with more routes and flights (14,000 more) this summer, the capacity will need to be increased. In fact, the airport's director has said that 79 flights can be dealt with. They may well need to be.

Even without this to consider, the fact that this summer's passenger (and flight) numbers are on the rise again will only reinforce demands for airport co-management.

Friday, March 24, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 March 2017

Morning high (7.13am): 10.8C
Forecast high: 15C; UV: 4
Three-day forecast: 25 March - Cloud, sun, 19C; 26 March - Sun, cloud, 20C; 27 March - Sun, cloud, 20C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 3 to 4 easing Variable 2 around midday increasing West 6 in the afternoon.

Grey skies. There has been some rain and more is forecast. Sun in limited supply, if at all.

Evening update (19.45): Rubbish day. Persistent rain, never that heavy but enough for well over 20 litres per square metre to have fallen. High of 11.5C.

The Vain Search For Competitiveness

The European Union produces a regional competitiveness index every three years. The latest one, for 2016, comes replete with a colour-coded map. Deep purple denotes low or negative competitiveness. A bright green shows the highest levels of competitiveness. On the purple to green with a sort of grey in between spectrum, there is almost no green in the Mediterranean. In Spain, of two regions with shades of green, the more vibrant is for Madrid. The Balearics Islands are in the purple zone. Not as low as Sicily, nearly all of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, but in the slightly less purple category. In other words, not terribly competitive.

The competitiveness is evaluated according to three dimensions. Basic covers institutions (such as government), macroeconomic stability, infrastructure and basic education. Efficiency deals with higher education and lifelong learning, labour market and market size. Innovation is for technological readiness, business sophistication and actual innovation.

Of these, the Balearics score well on only two. Health is one. The other, and there will be some relief here, is basic education, which does therefore offer a brighter perspective than the normal gloom that surrounds the education system. But any positivity is not carried on to higher education. In all, the islands find themselves in 200th place out of 263.

The usual other Spanish suspects join the Balearics towards the bottom of the ranking - Andalusia, the Canaries, Castile-La Mancha, Extremadura, Murcia and the north African cities of Ceuta and Melilla. These are ones which, for instance, have levels of unemployment higher than the rest of Spain. The Balearics are different in this respect, yet the region does not find itself well ranked for labour market efficiency. Nor are business sophistication and innovation particularly good. Lack of competitiveness therefore defines the Balearics.

And there is a further definition, one given by the report. Regional competitiveness is the ability of a region to offer a sustainable and attractive environment for business and residents to live and work Attractiveness for residents is unquestionably a factor in the Balearics. But a positive physical environment is as much a weakness as it is an intangible strength. It has bred a mono-economic culture of distorted tourism seasonality and other distortions - social, wealth and incomes, property ownership, land usage.

The apparent strength of the Balearic economy - 4.1% growth in 2016 - disguises so much. The inefficiency of the labour market, as highlighted by the report, is one of the most obvious. Improved employment there has been, but it is not stable employment. Nor is it well paid. The fact that economic growth has not been matched by improved pay suggests that an ingredient of growth - consumer demand - is limited. And where it exists, its source is more likely to be foreign - tourists and property owners.

Factors of Balearic growth are inconsistent. High levels of investment (private sector) are not matched by the public sector. The government, island councils and town halls are constrained by Madrid's requirements, while the government loses a significant proportion of its tax revenues through the funding which goes to poorer regions, such as Extremadura. This has a knock-on impact on the likes of infrastructure, which are not compensated for by Madrid investment.

But investment can run up against institutional impediments. Legal certainties are regularly referred to because business, e.g. the hotels, builders, are anxious about them. These stem from amendments to regulations at all levels; amendments either made or flagged up as possibilities. A different type of investment - in human capital - is lacking, as can be seen from the low numbers pursuing different forms of higher education. This has an impact on the capacity to innovate, while investment in innovation (where the government is concerned) is vastly lower than its rhetoric suggests. The current administration makes much of its commitment to innovation, yet the budget for this (Biel Barceló's department) is only one-tenth of the whole.

Exports in the form of tourism are the main lifeblood of growth, and given the apparent deficiencies in areas identified by the EU report, one is inclined to conclude that the Balearics achieve good rates of growth despite the obstacles presented.

The EU explains that a growing number of regions use the index in order to compare themselves with others and to identify strengths and weaknesses to shape their development strategies. There is also at the back of it a tool for Brussels to identify where funding is more pressingly required. But ultimately, very little of what the index reveals is either new or surprising. Putting things bluntly, northern Europe is competitive, while southern Europe isn't. How long have we known that?

And in the Balearics, how long have we known about economic reliance on tourism, about an absence of innovation, about patchy educational achievement, about institutional capriciousness? Still, there is always the attractive environment. If only competitiveness was just a factor of landscape, sea and sun.

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.

Evening update (20.00): Only sunny spells amidst light cloud. High of 20.8C.

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.