Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Sham Of Consensus: Holiday lets

So there we were, thinking that the Balearic Government's tourism ministry had seen the light and were about to announce some relaxation in rules regarding the renting of private apartments for tourist purposes. A consensus was being sought with town halls and the islands' councils. The meeting was planned to last only one hour, suggesting that the ministry had already come to a decision. It seemed promising, but it did of course prove to be nothing of the sort. Consensus? Not when you've already made your mind up.

Carlos Delgado, the tourism minister, argues that the 2012 tourism law has already relaxed the situation regarding private accommodation rental. He's right. It has in that it has been possible to register more houses for rental than was previously the case. But not apartments. These remain outside the law if they are being commercialised, e.g. advertised via websites as tourist accommodation. He says, and he is right, that the tenancy act allows the rental of accommodation just so long as it isn't commercialised, which is a fat lot of use for those who need to be able to advertise.

Claiming that there is a consensus is simply untrue. For a kick-off, this is not a consensus that has involved discussion with business sectors (other than the hoteliers). Secondly, of the islands' councils, Menorca's president wasn't at the meeting; Menorca had, prior to the passing of the tourism law in 2012, been pressing for a more tolerant approach. Thirdly, it is known that there are municipalities in Mallorca where the mayors do not agree with the government - Pollensa, Manacor, Santa Margalida, Andratx.

Delgado says that the island councils will be able, if they wish, to make some changes to regulation. This is because they are to be given responsibility for tourism promotion. But tourism promotion does not mean tourism accommodation. It means what is says - promotion. That is what is contained in the statute of autonomy. What would be required would be a change to islands' land plans, and these, as anyone can tell you, take years to work through the political bureaucracy, are altered when a new government comes in, are then re-altered, are blocked by legal challenges. Nothing, therefore, is likely to change, even if an individual island council wanted change. Menorca might, but it is unique. Ibiza is against change, while as for Mallorca, well the president of its council doesn't want any responsibility for tourism promotion.

Moreover, the notion of one island opting to regulate in a different way to others has in-built failure written all over it. To administer a separate regulation would require resources, which the councils do not have. A way of setting a budget would be through funding allocation via the cross-island commission (it is going to have to look at how funding for tourism promotion is decided), but if you have islands against change and another in favour, there is a recipe for failure.

If tourism promotion is being held up as the potential way out, then one now sees Salom's objection in a very different light. Was she pre-warned of this? Doubtless, she would deny it, but as she doesn't want the council to have responsibility, then it stays with the regional government. It all sounds a bit convenient and a means of avoiding conflict with the big guns of some business sectors.

Delgado's announcement is a total sham. He is talking rubbish, and he knows he is. As usual, people are being taken as idiots. Well, let's find out who the idiots are when or if tourism declines because apartments are taken off the market. It's a disgrace.

Any comments to please.

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