Monday, September 04, 2017

A Year From Now ...

It's the start of September 2018. The media has been baying for government blood. Why has tourism minister Barceló been on holiday? Where is President Armengol? Where has been the leadership?

In fact, the government is back from holiday. It is collectively gathered in a bunker, desperately trying to come up with plans for the 2019 budget. It is doing its best to hide. The British media are calling it the Summer of Death; some papers seemingly enjoying being able to.

There hasn't been a death as such, although there almost was one. A member of the Provisional Wing of Arran had chained himself to a pedalo in Playa de Muro, having first adorned the pedalo with a banner complaining about tourist pedalo "massification" that is destroying posidonia sea grass meadows. Having been chained for some time under a hot sun, he fell asleep, whereupon a group of tourists pushed him out into the bay of Alcudia. Unfortunately, he was in the same swimming-only zone as an oikish surfer girl whose board crashed into him. The lifeguards reluctantly went to his rescue.

No, the Summer of Death is because, with the exception of the tourists in Playa de Muro, there aren't any tourists. Well, no, there are some, but so de-massified are the numbers that Arran have been staging protests complaining about tourists' lack of goodwill. They should be in Mallorca, and they should be handing over the tourist tax in order that occupational-disorder therapy for chambermaids can be paid for. Not there are many chambermaids, because there aren't many tourists.

It's all because of the tourist tax, you see. Great hordes of tourists are being "borrowed" from Mallorca by Croatia and the Greek islands. In Croatia, it's a very different story. The government has been forced to declare a state of emergency, such is the level of massification. Irate Croatians have been gathering at airports and waving banners telling tourists to bugger off back to Mallorca. In Greece, meanwhile, the "borrowed" tourists are aghast to discover that they got it all wrong. Not only have the bloody Greeks got a tourist tax, they've gone and matched the Balearic rate.

It had all started to become fairly evident around ... well around April time. There was admittedly a fair degree of rejoicing. The roads were no longer saturated with cyclists. They'd all gone off to the tourist tax-free zones of Andalusia and Valencia. There were no longer vast pelatons hurtling along Puerto Pollensa's pinewalk and propelling pensioners into the bay. Country roads were restored to the time of the grand days of motoring with nary a cyclist to get in the way. Or another car for that matter. The hire-car multinationals had been hurriedly diverting their fleets to Turkey.

By June, and as airport workers, bar staff and hotel chambermaids were being laid off, Barceló declared that the tourist tax was a success as it was tackling seasonality. All the tourists who had suddenly gone missing would be returning from November, when they would be paying a lower rate of tourist tax; in other words the same rate that they had been paying the previous summer.

Very few people were buying this Barceló line. In fact no one was. So angered were the airlines that there was talk of a coup d'état and of installing Michael O'Leary as Balearic president. Members of PSOE, browbeaten into having gone along with the tourist tax rise, were wondering about all the additional government spending that was now disappearing. The PP, smugly taking pleasure in the gathering catastrophe, sat back and watched their poll ratings soar. They wouldn't even need to hunt for some illicit (allegedly) election campaign funding. They could look forward to spending just a couple of bob and still securing a landslide.

In their bunker at government HQ ministers agonised over the budget for 2019. Things were bad. Vince Vidal, the environment minister, added to the tourism woes by announcing that the entire grape harvest had been lost because of xylella. Trade minister Negueruela wondered what on earth he was going to be saying about lost exports.

Faced with the prospect of a massive hole in the spending budget, what could they do? It was then that the Podemos demand was considered. Increase the tourist tax. Were they mad? Ah but, what if the tax came with an incentive? Every tourist would go into a lottery. What would be the jackpot? 120 million euros. Wasn't that the amount the government had been anticipating raising in 2018? It was, but if the tax were to go up by at least a further 200%, then there would be plenty of revenue for a lottery payout and to keep the finances afloat. Tourists would love the idea. Brilliant, thought the ministers.

Alternatively, it's the start of September 2018, and no one has batted much of an eyelid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Tourist Tax will have too much of an impact next year. Hotel occupancy will remain good so the tax will come in. And they will claim it a success.

Bigger issue will be the lack of properties outside of hotels to rent. This will vastly affect the local restaurants and others that are dependant on this trade. These are the local cleaners, restaurant staff, supermarket workers etc. The hotels won't and don't care.