Friday, August 26, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 August 2016

Morning high (6.46am): 20.5C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 27 August - Sun, 30C; 28 August - Sun, 31C; 29 August - Sun, cloud, 30C.

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

Sun, sun, sun. All a waiting game now until (if) the first storm of late summer decides to put in an appearance.

Evening update (20.00): High of 31.2C.

Where's The Investment?: Mallorca's Innovation

It wouldn't be correct to assign full credit to a previous socialist-led administration for the establishment of Mallorca's technology park, but it is true to say that ParcBIT in Palma was officially inaugurated during the period of the first Antich government: the date was 30 May, 2002.

There really should be no need for political philosophies to invade the world of technological innovation and entrepreneurship, but somehow they do. Fourteen years on from ParcBIT's inauguration, technology, innovation and development and research are at the core of left-wing economic thinking. Do they not form part of the right's thinking as well? They do, but if you care to look at the programmes of what might be called the "new" left, you will find that technology is a key element of its economic strategy. Podemos espouse it. The now-forgotten Partido X, from which Podemos derived a good deal of its philosophy, emphasised it. Més, with its mish-mash brand of socialism, nationalism and ecology, are no different.

Technology, or this is how it seems, offers the hope of business democratisation, an opening-up to entrepreneurs, researchers and innovators, a means of creating and sharing wealth for the greater good. It's hard to see how this differs from what the right might believe, but there you go.

Biel Barceló is minister for more than just tourism. His portfolio was handmade for him, as it also includes innovation and research. Given the overriding importance of tourism and the attention given to touristic matters that this government has demanded, it is easy to overlook this dual responsibility. It has appeared at times as if Barceló has himself overlooked it. There again, his combined ministry for tourism and innovation and research has an in-built bias towards tourism - innovation and research account for around a tenth of the budget.

This amounts to some five million euros or so per annum, a tiny sum relative to the overall government budget. Whatever investment there therefore might be from the ministry will also be tiny, though there are other sources for innovation investment, not least Iago Negueruela's trade and industry ministry. Which does perhaps beg a question as to why innovation and research aren't with Negueruela. Other sources are state funds (if the government could ever lay its hands on them) and European funds, on which regular demands are made or planned. Palma town hall, also wedded through its Més deputy mayor Antoni Noguera to the notion of democratisation through technology, is one of the first to hold its cap out. In addition to ParcBIT, the town hall wants to establish a "creative economy" centred on the old Gesa building. Europe will help, it hopes.

The level of institutional investment in innovation and technology is pitiful, and it has been for years. Crisis wiped out much of what the Partido Popular under Jaume Matas had devoted to it, yet the decline in investment was much greater than in other regions of the country. The second Antich government saw to that. So much for democratisation through technology.

Barceló is clearly intent on reviving this. An announcement this week regarding ParcBIT might have hinted at something significant. What we got instead was a government plan to reduce costs for businesses located on the technology park. Every bit helps of course, but this hardly constituted a major initiative for new business development.

ParcBIT has its successes and it has its failures. It is, it is fair to say on the government's behalf, managed by a company in which the government holds 100% of the capital. But how much of its successes are attributable to the government is questionable. Habitissimo, for example, an online service for the building industry, grew on the back of ingenuity and some venture finance. A mark of it as a business was that it was founded and grew during the crisis - that took some doing. It isn't, however, a product of Mallorcan innovation.

It is the failures, though, which capture the headlines. Low Cost Travel has been the most notable, but there was the fiasco with the Microsoft Centre that preceded it. In terms of kudos, the decision by Trivago to up sticks and find more spacious facilities on the Paseo Marítimo was not the best of news.

The idea for ParcBIT, with its business incubation and its technology clusters for the likes of marine technologies, nautical, audiovisual and of course tourism, is sound, yet perversely it can be subject to the vagaries of governmental policies or inaction: the audiovisual sector is a prime example. It is a vital means of boosting economic diversification but if government hampers it, then the chances of real "killer" innovations breaking through which could provide a quantum leap for this diversification are lessened.

Ambitions for a creative economy, a minister for innovation and research. All fine, but ParcBIT and Mallorcan innovation require rather more than saving costs for waste management.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 August 2016

Morning high (7.05am): 21.3C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 26 August - Sun, 29C; 27 August - Sun, cloud, 28C; 28 August - Sun, 29C.

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

Bits of cloud around first thing, but nothing to fear, sunny days are here.

Police Failure And Failing The Police

When is a policeman not a policeman? The answer is when a judge has slapped a restraining order on him entering police facilities. This is the situation as it applies to three (former) senior police officers - Palma's Joan Mut and Antonio Morey and Calvia's José Antonio Navarro. The judge investigating police corruption allegations - Manuel Penalva - has issued orders against the three. In the case of Mut, the restraining order also prevents him going within 300 metres of the "honest" cop who blew the whistle on him. Neither Mut nor Morey, furthermore, can go near the offices of Palma's councillor for public safety.

The cases of these three officers are not necessarily linked. There have been suggestions that alleged police corruption centred on Palma's and Calvia's nightlife districts do have some links, but no evidence has been revealed to indicate collusion. Only suggestions. This is, nonetheless, all part of the investigation that has been taking months and which shows little sign of being resolved in the short term, thus continuing to damage both forces.

The circumstances differ. Where Navarro is concerned, he was arrested and held in custody for some forty days and charged with corruption. The allegations centre on favours shown to certain businesses in Magalluf and harassment of rival businesses. He was released in October 2014 and has been replaced as head of Calvia's police force.

Mut faces charges of malfeasance and coercion. He was taped by another officer, the "honest" one, Antonio Ramis. That recording included an admission of altering evidence but also one of having done so under pressure from political superiors. He was eventually dismissed by the current town hall administration for "disobedience". He was succeeded by Morey who, a few months into his post, launched an astonishing attack on the judge, the anti-corruption prosecutor and the councillor for public safety, Angelica Pastor. While he appeared to offer a defence of certain officers who had been charged, he also brought into question the investigation, implying political motivations, and indeed the competence of officials, such as Pastor. His position was obviously untenable.

The cases go beyond allegations against police officers. Politicians are involved as well. Pastor's predecessor, Guillem Navarro, has been implicated, as have the former deputy mayor, Alvaro Gijón, and the president of the Partido Popular in Palma, José María Rodríguez. The latter is scheduled to appear before Judge Penalva tomorrow. Of evidence against him that has been leaking out are statements from members of the elite GAP (preventive action) unit in Palma which allege that he was instrumental in drafting in officers from Manacor who were to form a unit dedicated to the PP.

The charges against police officers in Palma - currently in custody or at liberty - include some extremely serious ones. Against the backdrop of arrests and the Penalva/anti-corruption prosecutor investigation, the town hall is remodelling the police force, just as it is being overhauled in Calvia. The belief is that restructuring and strengthened lines of reporting will prevent the types of allegations that have occurred from being repeated. They may well do, but in terms of practical application on the ground, how well are the police forces performing? There are complaints in Magalluf and Playa de Palma about a continuation of ineffective policing. Is restructuring merely political window-dressing that doesn't help the police because of lack of resources?

The political dimension cannot be ignored, whether it is the competence of political officials or their own corrupt practices (allegedly). In the case of Joan Mut, he himself took over from Antonio Vera, who was forced to resign because of involvement in the rigging of police promotion exams. (This was what in fact started the whole police corruption ball rolling.) While Mut does face charges, what does one make of his suggestion of there having been pressure from political superiors? Should there be some sympathy, if this were proved to be the case? No, you might say, he should have resigned. But a resignation has to be approved by political superiors.

There have unquestionably been major police failures in both Palma and Calvia. That these may have involved only a relatively limited number of officers does not eradicate feelings of a lack of confidence. The time that the investigations are dragging on do not help either. Where Calvia is concerned, we only now hear of Navarro's suspension. Are the police being failed, therefore, by a slow-moving judicial process and by politicians both past and present? Calvia (and Palma) have made repeated statements about improvements to forces, and yet the complaints persist, though in Calvia's defence, it should be noted that criticisms from the PP opposition have the distinct flavour of pot calling the kettle black. Above all, though, there is the suggestion of political involvement in police corruption. If so, were the police failed by politicians? Who were the instigators? Judge Penalva, albeit slowly, is finding out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 August 2016

Morning high (5.50am): 20.5C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 25 August - Sun, 29C; 26 August - Sun, 28C; 27 August - Sun, 28C.

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

Sun. Light breezes. Need anything else?

Evening update (20.15): High of 31.9C.

The "Sport" Of Holiday Compensation Claims

How many of you reading this are either at an all-inclusive hotel or have been to one? And by all-inclusive, I'm tending towards excluding those which display four or even five stars. Why would I do this? Principally, and do please excuse the generalisation, the three-star all-inclusive might typically house a clientele that is most interested in the pursuit of compensation.

If you are and have been at an all-inclusive, and it does seem to apply mostly to all-inclusives, you may have been aware of some of the individuals who seem to hang around. They can be found inside hotel grounds and on hotel property as well as outside. Security in many a hotel is lax to the point of non-existent.

These individuals can include, inter alia, illegal street sellers. They move in from the streets and inhabit poolside and other areas. How on earth is this allowed to happen? Reasons, one in particular, have been offered to me. I'm not, it has to be said, convinced by allegations that "incentives" are offered to turn a blind eye. The street sellers just don't have that kind of wherewithal, albeit their masters may have. Even then, I frankly doubt it.

There are sellers of a different sort. They don't come armed with fake products (or drugs). They don't want any money as such. They are armed instead with claims' forms, either actual ones or available from websites. They are representatives of one of the most miserable, ethically reprehensible and morally bankrupt lines of business that exists in the holiday market. They come from law firms lining up to press compensation claims. The legal profession ethical? Most of it is, but there are also elements of it who - as the old gag would have it - would fail to distinguish between ethics and a county in eastern England.

The claiming of compensation, often for minor matters or perhaps even trumped up, is nothing new of course, but as a "business" it has more tools at its disposal - social networks - than were generally the case over five years ago when I previously looked into it. The circumstances as they were then have not altered, save for the seemingly greater determination to seek to extract compensation. They are principally of British making, involve British law firms and tour operators and British tourists from a culture that has been consumed by the pernicious influence of what was once mainly promoted at appropriate times on UK television and radio but which has now spread to social media.

The hotels are almost invariably the victims. Hard though it may be for some to feel sorry for them - and there are examples of their being their own worst enemies - the hotels are caught by contractual arrangements with tour operators and by the massive costs of challenging claims, which themselves will typically be greatly in excess of what a Spanish court might permit: there are caps under Spanish law but aren't under UK law. And it is UK law and UK courts which decide. It simply isn't worth hotels making challenges. Instead, they find that arrangements with tour operators are such that claims levelled against tour operators are deducted from the invoices the hotels send to the tour operators.

Hotels complain that tour operators are far too compliant in accepting claims. They are, after all, in a better position to fight claims in court, but generally tend not to, challenging only the obviously fraudulent attempts, such as trying to claim for something at a hotel that the holidaymaker had not been staying at.

This is an issue which doesn't affect only Mallorca. It is one that is evident in all the sun-and-beach regions where there is a mass of British tourism - Benidorm, Tenerife and elsewhere. Hosteltur magazine online reports that Ashotel, which is the association for hoteliers in Tenerife as well as in La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, has sent out a communication to its members in which it identifies one particular firm in north-west England as allegedly encouraging British tourists to press claims for the likes of food poisoning. Hosteltur also reports that Tui and Jet2 are making hotels aware of individuals who are knocking around hotels looking for likely claimants, with law firms operating on a no win, no fee basis.

There are, of course, genuine cases and very serious ones, such as claims against Thomson by holidaymakers who contracted cryptosporidium at a hotel in Can Picafort in June 2003 and which took until January 2011 to be settled. But many are anything but reasonable; they are what the tourism industry in Mallorca refers to as the "sport" of the holiday compensation claim, and one played principally by the British.

Coming back to those loitering around hotels, perhaps some holidaymakers will claim for the annoyance caused by illegal sellers. As I say, some hotels are their own worst enemies.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 August 2016

Morning high (5.46am): 21.2C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 24 August - Sun, 29C; 25 August - Sun, 28C; 26 August - Sun, 29C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 3 to 4 easing East 3 by the afternoon.

Just looking like it's sun all the way today and for the rest of the week, I'm afraid.

Evening update (20.15): High of 31.8C.

And The Sustainable Tourism Winner Will Be?

The night of 26 September will be "la Noche del Turismo". Yes, the night of tourism. For one night only. It'll be on the eve of World Tourism Day. One day only. They quite like celebrating World Tourism Day in Mallorca. One day only, albeit Alcudia has its own not-the-world tourist day this Thursday (it's a half day in fact).

At least a World Tourism Day at the end of September gives Cala Millor the opportunity to have its tourist fiesta week, a rather longer celebration of tourism than anywhere else indulges in. One day only normally. Oh well, so much for lengthening the tourist season, let's just reduce it to one day (and the preceding night).

This night of tourism is an innovation - yes, there is one - by the tourism ministry. It was being mentioned last week when minister Barceló was making one of his now regular proclamations about sustainability and saturation. Alongside him was the director of the Balearic Tourism Agency, Pere Muñoz, an old mate but also political sparring partner of Barceló's and about whom a certain degree of surprise was expressed when he was given the job. There was something about him having run the car park at Lluc Monastery.

We haven't heard a great deal from Pere since he was appointed in February when the previous incumbent, Miquel Àngel Roig, quit because he was offered something better. Recently, however, Pere has emerged, a brother-in-arms to the sustainable tourism minister. Ostensibly, the agency is the wing of the ministry devoted to promoting the Balearics. This it does by, among other things, flying off to Rutland in order to explain to the twitcher community how a whole load of crappy water ended up covering a vast part of one of the islands' principal birdlife locations, thus rendering it - if only temporarily - unsustainable. Otherwise, it hasn't yet been acquainted with the other part of the sustainable tourism minister's portfolio - innovation and research. We might have expected that another mate of Barceló's having been made director for this would have been able to marry innovation of, say, a social network variety to the promotion of the islands. As yet, nada, but oddly no one seems to be asking what this director is doing.

Pere, meanwhile, seems to have been hard at it developing promotion of an inward variety. Thus, the citizenry is being informed about sustainable tourism. On the principle that you state the word often enough, the public will go along with it, even if the public hasn't a clue what it means. Or rather, it gets to understand what the sustainable tourism minister wants sustainability to mean.

And now we have another type of inward promotion. The glittering night of stars that is to be the night of tourism is designed to cover a multitude of virtues. Here are the five categories of award: knowledge and research applied to tourism; the best social responsibility initiative; the best sustainable tourism initiative; tourism work, effort and professional dedication; the tourist "experience".

These are all to be in recognition of ways in which Balearic tourism and its tourism services are being improved within a framework of corporate social responsibility (both public and private), of innovation in creating new experiences, and of the sustainability of the tourism product in the Balearics. In a nutshell, the awards encapsulate Barceló's brief as minister. The night of tourism could equally be called the Biel night of tourism.

So, who might be among the runners and riders? Nominations close today, suggesting that we will shortly be informed, offering Biel (and Pere) a further opportunity to go public with the incessant sustainability (saturation) theme. Who, one wonders, are on the judging panel (have Podemos been consulted)? Perhaps they will be revealed as well, but whoever they are, one can possibly guess at the type of winner to eventually be announced and at the type of winner that most certainly won't be announced.

Of the latter, we can anticipate that innovators such as Airbnb won't be getting anywhere near an award let alone be invited. But among the winners? Might they, for instance, include Palma 365 or Calvia town hall? Palma 365 would be worthy. Calvia wouldn't be. Where else might get a look-in beyond the political expedience which decrees that Palma and Calvia head the lists? Menorca with its biosphere, roundly criticised for never having been effectively promoted? The Tramuntana, likewise criticised for promotional failure? 

How about the regulatory councils for wine, oil and food products? All sustainable and all supposedly part of the wider concept of gastronomy that will extend the season. Gongs for sobrassada and ensaimadas maybe? The tourism agency seems incapable of seeing beyond a type of sausage and a pastry when it comes to gastronomy promotion, so quite possibly.

We are about to find out.

Monday, August 22, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 August 2016

Morning high (6.34am): 20.6C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 23 August - Sun, 29C; 24 August - Sun, 28C; 25 August - Sun, cloud, 28C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 4 to 5 occasionally 6. Swells to two metres.

May be a bit blowy from the north today. Otherwise fine and sunny. Week ahead looking good.

Evening update (20.00): High of 31C.

Mariano In The Clouds

By my calculation and at the rate of one every six months, there will have been a total of eight pointless general elections by the time things get round to what should be the general election to decide the next general election. Confused? You have every right to be. As the current legislature (non-functioning, acting, caretaking, call it what you want) should extend until the end of 2019, there is ample time for them to have had eight elections in all. I can only but hope that this is what transpires. What a fabulous achievement it would be to go through the entire period of a legislature without a result. I feel we should all be cheering them on. Come on fellas (and ladies), you can do it. Do it for Spain. Bravo! Olé! There goes another failed election. Only another five to go.

This is what you get in an era of "new politics" in Spain, characterised by the emergence of a couple of upstarts like Churches and the little C of the C's (respectively Pablo and Albert). The new politics in fact mean no politics; or none that involve actually forming a government that is. As a consequence, Super Mariano can have his wish granted to continue ad infinitum: Honorary Life Prime Minister (President) forever.

I know it would spoil the fun of there being an election every six months, but why doesn't Mazza put a stop to the whole thing by decreeing that all political parties apart from the PP are to be banned? That way there wouldn't need to be the inconvenience of elections. As he's already confirming himself as PM (president) for life, just announce he's going to be a dictator. I mean, it's not as though there haven't been precedents, and Mazza's the only one of the Four Great Leaders who is ancient enough to remember the good old days of political assassination and packing dissidents off to labour camps. Plus, he does of course come from Galicia. And we all know who else came from Galicia.

On balance it's probably unlikely that Super would take such a bold step, meaning - with any luck - that we can indeed have our eight elections to be followed by a ninth with a similar outcome. Mazza, meanwhile, has signalled that there may be some innovation to come with these elections. The next one, he has suggested, could be held on Christmas Day. Why not opt for Christmas Eve and shift the polling booths to churches? There wouldn't be any Podemos sorts voting if they were expected to enter a church that wasn't one of their glorious leader. It would be a PP landslide. Mind you, a Christmas Eve or even a Christmas Day election would cause havoc with the King's address to the nation, to say nothing of his family holidays. Again.

While the royal jollies in Majorca were disrupted because the King was forced to have go through the motions related to the last failed election, someone who was having his own jollies was Mariano. As an alternative to last year's photo opp of swimming in some river in Galicia, Super took himself off to a place called Babia in León. "Here I feel at home," he told reporters. "Being in Babia is one of the things I like most."

Which would be all well and good if it weren't for the fact that the phrase "estar en Babia" is an idiom to mean having one's head in the clouds. So what fantasies was Mazza dreaming up in Babia? Who can possibly tell? Was his arrival in Babia evidence of a divorcing from reality? PSOE's Antonio Pradas insisted that Mariano should get his head out of the clouds forthwith as the little C of the C's had a proposal on the table. It was, by the way, reassuring to note that Pradas didn't have his head in the clouds and was speaking in Benalmadena, so down with the general tourist hordes and avoiding any Irish hitmen who happened to be on the loose.

When Mariano finally re-emerged, Albert's proposal of some form of governmental marriage seemed possible and then not possible. Which has been the story ever since the first election. On it goes. Here's to all those further elections.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 August 2016

Morning high (6.50am): 22.4C
Forecast high: 27C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 22 August - Sun, 28C; 23 August - Sun, 28C; 24 August - Sun, 28C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 5 easing 3 to 4 around midday.

Fairly breezy first thing and some cloud around, which may persist during the day. The week ahead looking very sunny.

Evening update (19.30): Good enough day. Breezy in the morning and choppy seas. Calmed down later and clouded over a bit. High of 28.6C.

The Cove That Isn't: Cala San Vicente

Roughly halfway along the road between Pollensa and Puerto Pollensa (very roughly, because it's nearer to Pollensa) is the turn-off for Cala San Vicente (aka Cala Sant Vicenç). It's an intriguing place, not least because its name suggests that there should be a cove named San Vicente when there is not. It's essentially four coves, none of them with any hint of a Saint Vince. So what's with the name? It comes from the name of the estate - the "possessión" - which was listed among all the various estates to be divided up among the supporters of Jaume I following his thirteenth century conquest of Mallorca.

It is suggested that the name goes back a great deal further, so it may or may not have something to do with Vincent the Martyr, who came to an appalling end at the hands of Diocletian, as did most other Christians who had the misfortune to have encountered the one-time Roman Emperor. Otherwise, there doesn't seem to be a particularly good explanation as to how the name came about, although it is known that the cult of Vincent was present (at least on the mainland and especially in Valencia) during the centuries of the Muslims.

The name aside, and coming to the present, Cala San Vicente is intriguing for the way in which as a resort, and only a tiny one, it was allowed to embrace such striking differences of touristic existence. It was for this reason that I once wrote about it as being a place that didn't really add up. More or less shoulder to shoulder was early Mallorcan all-inclusive invasion (the Don Pedro) and a genteel style of tourism with vague echoes of the Raj.

This had been impressed upon me, and we're talking some years ago now, when I'd wandered into the reception of the Moraleja. An English gentleman of advanced years, a copy of "The Telegraph" in his hands, was sitting in a straight-backed, pink-patterned chair. "It's paradise," he suggested. "Like your own home. Your own villa." I nodded. Not having my own villa I was uncertain of my reply, but I took his word for it and bade him farewell, leaving him to the silence save for the birdsong and the breeze rustling the bracts of the bougainvillaea and the sheets of an English broadsheet.

The collision in touristic styles seemed something to celebrate rather than denigrate, if only because of the weird juxtaposition, something that was further accentuated when they started putting up residential new builds, the creations of the architectural apostles of the post-Modernist Lego box style replete with grey and neutral non-colours and a conspicuous insistence on aluminium. This is not unpleasing architecture, but it does rather depend on context. Cala San Vicente had seem unprepared for it.

Denigration, such as it was, once came from Matt Rudd in "The Sunday Times". Confessing to be a "holiday snob", Rudd had been singularly unimpressed, having been pointed in the direction of CSV by a "gnarly finger" in an unnamed other resort. While it is true, or at least someone told me so, that flabby men wearing only their underpants could wander on to the streets from the Don Pedro (this was, I would say again, some years ago), to castigate the whole of the Cala seemed mightily unfair. What had last days of Empire in the Moraleja said? Paradise?

What else is there to intrigue? The caves of course. The Alzinaret caves and necropolis of Bronze Age prehistory. And there's the horse of course. The horse promontory, the Cavall Bernat cliffs, stretching away from Cala Molins. Want to know something about these that you might not know? The name seems obvious enough - Bernat's horse - yet it is said to be a corruption of an earlier appellation: "carall armat". In Spanish this would be "carajo armado". Look it up because sensitivity suggests I should not elucidate, but put it this way, it has to do with phallic form.

Call it what you wish, the promontory has been an inspiration for many, not least the painters of the early twentieth century who were to capture the Tramuntana and its coastline and who were to be the progenitors of an art culture in the Cala. Those painters offer a separate and intriguing story. In 1916 the writer Pedro Ferrer Gibert coined the term the "Pollensa school" for what was a "Mecca for artists". Ferrer wrote about the painters in Cala San Vicente. They stayed in what was then an improvised pension - Can Niu.

They're holding their fiestas in Cala San Vicente this weekend. They don't make a lot of fuss about the fiestas. Keep them rather quiet you might almost say. Which seems to befit the Cala. Except that at midnight they'll be setting off fireworks, arousing Bernat's horse with cascades like the colours of vermilion cast on its ancient rock face that intrigued the painters of a century ago.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 August 2016

Morning high (5.53am): 22C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 21 August - Sun, cloud, 27C; 22 August - Sun, cloud, 27C; 23 August - Sun, 28C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 2 to 4 backing and increasing Northeast 4 to 5 by late afternoon.

Any forecast for cloudy conditions today has lessened. All seems pretty normal - sun and hot.

Evening update (20.00): High of 34.9C.

The Palmarati And Tourism Sustainability

Are we being sold a fast one, do you suppose? Saturation, massification, overcrowding. Increasingly I wonder if it isn't all propaganda with a yet to be revealed agenda, but one that may well come with "limits" attached. Moreover, is this propaganda all the work of what one might call the "Palmarati"?

I don't doubt that there are more tourists than ever, but does that automatically mean saturation? I had largely accepted the argument until recently. Let me explain.

My manor, for want of a better term, is right bang in one of the principal tourist resorts in Mallorca. The density of tourist population in Alcudia is extremely high. On hotel places alone, the maximum number of tourists at a given time is 1.5 times the regular population of the entire, sprawling municipality. This is something I sense and see every single day in summer. Unlike commentators, especially politicians, who are divorced from the realities of resort life, I live it. Tourism mass doesn't come any more massive than Bellevue.

Perceptions, I accept, are not scientific, but there was a sudden realisation this week that driving in Alcudia is not the nightmare it once was in August. And I'm talking perhaps ten years ago. This may reflect the level of all-inclusive in the resort, but traffic most certainly isn't determined by in-resort circumstances alone. Moreover, there is all the additional residential tourism that has sprung up. None of that is all-inclusive and much of it requires a car.

Along the bay from Alcudia is the beach of Es Comú, a long stretch of rustic beach in Playa de Muro. It's somewhere else I know, unlike some. There was a time when even on Sundays it wouldn't be especially busy. It is now. The conclusion drawn is that this is because of saturation, with tourists to blame. Yes, there are tourists, but for the most part the beachgoers are residents of the island. They started going to Es Comú because word of the beach was spread by social media (Trip Advisor included) and also by the Balearic government on its beaches website.

We now have the government's environment ministry wanting to create a minibus shuttle service for the beach. There's nothing wrong with the idea, other than its practicality. Furthermore, does the ministry's director-general for biodiversity really have any idea about Es Comú's circumstances or indeed those of other beaches she wishes to be served by minibuses? One of the others is Sa Calobra. Where would you put a car park to allow a park and ride system?

That beach was highlighted earlier this week by a group which wants to "save" the Tramuntana. This group appears not to want anyone going anywhere near the mountains. The photo it posted for the Torrent de Pareis showed a number of beachgoers along with a howling complaint of saturation. Yes, people on a beach. Who would ever have thought? But hardly packed to the gunwales. And guess what? Social media and the government have been talking lovingly about Sa Calobra in recent years.

Then there was Palma's deputy mayor, Aurora Jhardi, going on about Mallorca (as well as Palma) collapsing under the strain of all the tourists. Time to "minimise" the damage, she insisted. She's welcome to her opinion, but what does she know about Mallorca beyond Palma?

Herein lies the rub, and the greater realisation that occurred to me this week. The "Palmarati". This is the class that chatters endlessly about cruise ships this or that, which for the rest of Mallorca is mostly by the bye. Yet lo and behold, we found, thanks to figures from the State Ports, that cruise passenger numbers for the half year were in fact down on last year. Remember those 22,000 who had invaded back in May and who were used as evidence of the collapse of Palma? Always Palma, and always Palma sounding off and reckoning it knows all and knows best for the island's resorts. Yet, we have a tourism ministry and government that can see no further, for political reasons, than Magalluf and Playa de Palma. Cala Millor, Cala Ratjada, Can Picafort and others: who are you? who are you?

This isn't to minimise the potential negative impacts, of which water is the most obvious. Tourists in their apparently saturating numbers do use a hell of a lot of water, which is why I made the moral case, long before the tourist tax was even being considered, for a tax to be directed at vital resources. But tourists aren't to blame for the water shortage. The climate is, plus a lack of planning. The water crisis, though, has become a useful tool for the Palmarati (the governmental brand in particular) in its propaganda.

Biel Barceló, bless him, seems a sincere enough chap. He wants sustainability of tourism. Who doesn't? It's a non-discussion in some respects, but debating limits and future models of tourism will get nowhere when the argumentation is skewed by one side's propaganda, only to then be refuted by the other side's, and which is the domain of competing political parties, business interests and above all the Palmarati.