Thursday, January 04, 2007

Lies, Damned Lies And Statistics

Never let it be said that I cannot offer praise where it is due. Having granted “Euro Weekly” the honour of the lousy journalism award for its one-time front-page story, the latest issue redeems the paper somewhat. The headline is:

“Holiday record claim is an ‘insult’ to traders”.

This refers to the announcement of the 12.2 million people that came the Balearics way during the first eleven months of 2006. Quoting an albeit unnamed bar owner in the south of the island, the article says that the figures are being used to mask the “shortcomings” of the government. It doesn’t actually say what those shortcomings are, but one gets the point. Pertinently, the fact that Spanish tourism was up by nearly 23%, while British tourism had gone up a mere percentage point tells us a lot. The bar owner says: “Unfortunately tribes of Spanish pensioners do not put money into the till.” How right he is, and not necessarily only the pensioners, though they are an under-spending phenomenon. There is one bar in Alcúdia where they tell them to piss off for the simple reason that they clutter the bar up, spend next to nothing and expect, nay demand, freebies like crisps and olives.

The bar owner goes on: “Anyone can read what they want into figures.” Well, amen to that; I was saying as much during 2006. The emphasis of the feature then shifts to winter tourism. Magaluf is described as a “ghost town” in winter and a cut-price, all-inclusive area during summer”. Sounds familiar. It could also be said of Alcúdia. Warming to his theme, he continues: “we need quantity but we also need quality”. Where have I heard that before? Yes, right here - on this blog.

So, in a nutshell, the article savages the complacency of Sr. Flaquer and his numbers-game, calls for an alternative to all-inclusives and for more winter tourism. Couldn’t really have put it better myself. The only thing is: why is the bar owner not named?

But elsewhere in the paper, we get - on facing pages - not just one columnist of the year as voted for (apparently) by readers but two, namely someone using the moniker Boadicea and our old favourite Leapy Lee. Well, I admit I don’t pay that much attention to the paper, but how many other columnists are there? And what, in all truth, does a one-hit wonder like the Leapster do to deserve this title? Rants on about (favourably) the somewhat summary nature of justice in Saudi Arabia in decrying the procrastination of the British legal system. Strewth.

More interestingly, there is mention of the development of the terminal at the airport which should see less congestion and less of a trek for passengers, especially those travelling with low-cost airlines who, at present, face a long walk to baggage reclaim and the exit. The work is set to be completed by the end of 2009.

Also, there is a thing about an allegedly “racist” poster that has appeared around the island. The poster reads: “Productes de Mallorca: Els mallorquins són els millors”. This translates as - “Mallorcan produce (or also products). The Mallorcans are the best.” Now, you could read this as claiming that the Mallorcan people are the best, but that is not what is being said. It is the products that are the best. Whether one agrees with that is largely beside the point. But people seem to have got themselves into an almighty lather over nothing. Once more quoting an unnamed source (a resident of Puerto Pollensa who wished not to be named - why?), the article bangs on about the offensiveness of the posters and multi-culturalism versus nationalism, blah, blah. A load of noise about nothing. Forget it.

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