Monday, November 06, 2006


The environment. Suddenly this has zoomed into prominence on this blog. Already this month I have alluded to the potential impact of rising sea levels in the north Mallorca area. And by the way, when I spoke about the coastal areas of Playa de Muro and Can Picafort maybe being overwhelmed by the sea, I failed to point out that 300 years ago the sea did encroach.

But there is another thing. In “The Sunday Times” (5 November), the admirable Simon Jenkins discussed the implications of the Stern report. In essence, he argued that - inter alia - the cost of mobility, especially air travel, must once again become the privilege of the rich. The emissions created by cheap and an abundance of aviation fuel have to be tackled. One way of doing so is to pass on the costs of curbing climate change to the individual, thus creating much higher costs of air travel. This runs counter to a free market, something of which Jenkins is generally a wholehearted supporter; it also runs counter to the growth of cheap air travel. It is cheap air travel that has helped to make overseas holidays affordable to those who were previously excluded - on the grounds of price. It is cheap air travel that now fuels - as it were - the holiday industry. It is cheap air travel that brings with it the record numbers passing through Palma Airport and the need to extend the airport’s terminal.

Take away that cheap air travel, and this can only be done by significant governmental intervention co-ordinated across nations, and we would never again witness a record year of visitors to Mallorca, as has been the case this year.

Some while ago I outlined the use of the simple SWOT technique as a way for businesses to assess themselves. The “T” refers to threats. Here is one such. Not just a small “t”, but a whacking great big one. Make air travel that much more expensive, and all the gripes about the impact of all-inclusives will seem like playground spats. This would be grown-ups’ stuff. The impact on economies such as the local one would be immense.

Is there anyone thinking about this? Spanish Government, Balearic Government, Mallorca council, local authorities, tour operators, airlines, hotels, island’s businesses? Richard Branson is at least looking to start a discussion, from which British Airways has notably excluded itself, but as for others - if they are not thinking about all this, I suggest that they start.

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