Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Zoning Of Holiday Lets

Pilar Carbonell is the director-general of Balearic tourism. She's the one who gets things done rather than talk about getting things done, which is minister Barceló's job. But she did talk recently. In a wide-ranging interview, she spoke about the tourist tax, all-inclusives, holiday lets, Aena and lower tariffs at the airport in winter. Hers is a wide brief.

I met her recently when she came to Alcudia to talk to local businesses who were wanting something done about all-inclusives. She seemed eminently charming. Highly attentive and respectful to what was being said at the meeting, there was nevertheless an impression that she was somewhat divorced from the day-to-day realities of life in the resorts. In a way this was surprising. She is steeped in the industry from the point of view of non-hotel businesses, having run restaurants and having been the president of the restaurants' association. In Alcudia, she seemed not to know of the sheer scale of the massive Bellevue complex and the enormous influence this has on the local tourism economy. She seemed surprised when told of the practice of wristbands being sold on the beach to tourists who can get day rates to drink as much as they want inside an all-inclusive.

Perhaps it's too much to ask that any politician with a tourism brief can be familiar with issues in each and every resort on the island, but if so, one wonders about what she said in this recent interview about the application of rules regarding holiday lets.

The law on this, or at least a process for deciding the regulation of accommodation, will be coming in some time in January, she intimated. And as part of this regulation, properties (apartments for the most part, therefore) will be subject to regulated and legal commercialisation as holiday accommodation in defined areas of resorts. The town halls, she said, would be the ones to decide on which areas.

This breaking down by area has already been given some discussion in Palma. But Palma is a big place. It has discernible areas, be they the old centre, the resort areas and other seaside parts which are less of a resort nature. Other resorts aren't anything like as big, and there is a clue in how they are referred to. They are resorts, full stop. Puerto Alcudia is, and this covers the port area and the main tourism centre a couple of kilometres away and stretches to the border with another resort - Playa de Muro: one continuous resort. There are various other such examples in Majorca.

Will this selection by town halls mean, for instance, that the "pueblos" are excluded? And if so, why? In Alcudia old town's case, as is the same with certain other old towns, it is part of the overall tourist offer in the municipality. Why should it not be included?

A concern may be that town halls end up being guided by the current land regulation known as POOT, which basically refers to a quota system of municipal territory dedicated to touristic development. But POOT doesn't presuppose a continuity of territory: it is broken up into parts. Hopefully, this will not be adopted as the guideline, but even under an alternative system, will the plan for town halls to decide not simply add to the confusion which exists regarding private accommodation for holiday let rather than lessen it? And what of municipalities not currently considered to be tourist centres, those in the interior? There is no current tourist development quota in most of them, while if they have ambitions to develop tourism - Sa Pobla is a case in point - they need flexibility where private properties are concerned because of an absence of hotels. Pilar Carbonell has her work cut out getting all this right.

No comments: