Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 31 May 2011

Sunny, but a fair amount of cloud around at 08.30. There is a fifty per cent chance of rain up until the late afternoon. Tomorrow should be brighter, but Thursday is looking cloudy and the weekend ahead also cloudy. High at 08.30 in the local area is 21.3 in Puerto Pollensa.

In the south of the island today there was a very heavy storm. It caused flooding in the Palma metro and services had to be suspended for half an hour. The storm missed the north of the island, but there was a fair wind and it didn't feel particularly warm. The local maximum was 22.9 in Alcúdia, but temperatures were, by 18.00, down to 20 or lower.

The new front coming in on Thursday looks likely to bring cold air for the time of year with some rain and a northerly wind which will mainly affect the north of the island.

The Great Non-Debate: Tourism spend

Oh no, here we go again; the headline-grabber of tourism spend being up and likely to reach record levels. Why does this garbage refuse to be ignored? It's difficult to do so, if the statistics office and tourism ministry insist upon shoving it down people's throats.

The facts, such as they are, are these. Tourism spend in the Balearics during April was up by 35%. For the first four months, it rose by 7%.

If you weren't paying attention before, let me remind you how this spend statistic is arrived at. The process of information gathering is by questionnaire; some 100,000 interviews at airports, ports and border crossings across Spain being conducted annually. Just think about this for a moment, and how thinly spread the exercise is.

Of the information that is gathered, only two of its five categories actually relate to spend on things other than accommodation, transport and the tourism package. There is, for example, no specific provision for spend in shops; just for restaurants and excursions. On-the-ground spend is limited, therefore, to 40% of the overall statistic (transport can include local spend, but equally it means spend on flights).

The good-news story of the increased spend is not all it seems anyway. An average spend per tourist of 866 euros is still some way lower than what used to be a more regular figure that was quoted, of plus-900. And, as ever, there is a huge discrepancy between what the statistics suggest and the reality.

Various bodies, those representing restaurants and other sectors of the so-called complementary offer, have been quick to point out that this spend is not translating into tills rolling over. Well, it wouldn't, if much of it is skewed towards things other than the complementary offer.

One has to be careful where the statistics that these bodies produce are concerned as well. When they say that some establishments are suffering 50% falls in revenue, this doesn't mean that all establishments are (5% appears to be an average). Nevertheless, there has been evidence to suggest that genuine and quite dramatic declines in revenue have been experienced.

The shops are probably the worst-affected sector of the lot, especially the souvenir shops. Yes, there are too many of them, just as there are too many bars and restaurants, but time was when over-supply didn't really matter. It isn't only the shops flogging siurells and what have you, but also those selling "different" stuff. One shopowner I know well was suffering an 80% loss at stages of last season, and he is not someone inclined to lapsing into BS.

The blame is, of course, directed at all-inclusives. The restaurant and other bodies have called for a debate within Balearic society to be opened to consider the increase in all-inclusives and the effect they have.

What on earth have they been doing for the past ten years? The trend was clear ages ago, and what precisely would this debate achieve, other than to reiterate everything that has been said about all-inclusives, time and time again? The organisations recognise the power of the tour operators, but still they want a debate. Well, let them. It won't do much good.

The other great power in the tourism game, the hotels, defending themselves of course, say it is better to have tourists rather than lose them altogether. Which is fair enough, but they are also complaining that tourists aren't spending money. And why would that be, do you think?

One of the elements of the tourism spend statistic should be looked at especially closely - the tourism package. This doesn't exclusively mean all-inclusives, but how much are they a factor in this part of the spend (and others) and how much is the on-arrival upgrade to all-inclusive a factor?

To get a handle on spend by all-inclusive tourists, you need to refer back to the research TUI have done in Turkey, the research which revealed that, behind the tour operator's assertion as to the benefits of all-inclusives, a mere 11% of spend found its way into the local community.

For the tourism spend statistics to ever be more than irrelevant, they need to be more precise and focused, but logistics as well as political expediency will mean that they won't be. It is the headline of 35% up that is all you are meant to know, not what the figures really represent.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Index for May 2011
Alcúdia: potential coalition - 27 May 2011
All-inclusives, tourism spend and - 31 May 2011
All-inclusives, TUI and - 15 May 2011
Architecture, bad - 3 May 2011
Beach management - 18 May 2011
Can Picafort and mayoral election - 14 May 2011
Corruption as an electoral argument - 2 May 2011
Crossing the road - 11 May 2011
Cultural tourism: lessons from Greece - 10 May 2011
Day of reflection and protests - 21 May 2011
Election day in Muro - 22 May 2011, 23 May 2011
Elections, the new regime and the - 24 May 2011
Estación náutica and Spanish market promotion - 12 May 2011
Expatriates and local elections - 19 May 2011
Hoteliers' federation and tourism politics - 16 May 2011
Hotels that forget their markets - 29 May 2011
Inca market - 20 May 2011
Ironman 70.3 triathlon, Alcúdia - 5 May 2011
La Gola, dead fish in - 26 May 2011
Mallorca Rocks, threat to - 25 May 2011
Market research, tourist - 30 May 2011
Muro and mayoral election - 1 May 2011
North-south divide in Mallorca - 17 May 2011
Osborne bull - 4 May 2011
Partido Popular: what it really is - 28 May 2011
Pollensa's mayoral candidates - 8 May 2011
Posters, election - 9 May 2011
Spanish pensioners - 25 May 2011
Tourism orthodoxy - 6 May 2011
Tourism spend and all-inclusives - 31 May 2011
Tourist supermarkets - 7 May 2011
Webcams - 13 May 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 30 May 2011

Another fine day, some light cloud around but otherwise sunny and already warm by 09.00, the local highs shading 20 degrees, with 21.2 in Puerto Pollensa the highest. There is, though, a possibility of rain later, and tomorrow a higher possibility. Later in the week, there is also a chance of rain, but temperatures seem pretty much set - at around 24 or 25 degree highs.

This afternoon it has rained. Showers, not heavy ones. The sun is back out at 17.45, the temperatures having gone down a notch or two from a day's high locally in Pollensa town of 23.9 C.

Two-Way Information: Tourist offices which aren't

When is a tourist office not a tourist office? When it's not manned by people with any knowledge that might be useful for a tourist.

Last summer, two tents, boasting tourist information, suddenly appeared in different parts of Playa de Muro. How very sensible I thought. The resort occupies a stretch of three to four kilometres in length. At its outer limits, tourists are a fair old schlep away from the town hall's municipal building which houses the tourist office.

But there was something not quite right about these tents. They were often unoccupied and there was very little by way of information. To help them out, I took some along to one of the tents, even provided a plastic box, purchased at eleven euros, so that stuff didn't fly away in the breeze; the tents were more canopies than actual tents.

The box disappeared. I was unimpressed both by this and by the general absence of any personnel or information. It doesn't reflect well on the town, I thought. But I had made an assumption, always a dangerous thing to do, that these tents were part of Muro town hall's tourism information provision. They weren't.

The tents were put up by the local hotel association. Their primary purpose was not the giving out of information but its gathering. The hotels were engaging in market research.

There was nothing at all wrong with this; indeed, it was extremely sensible. But a false impression was given. The girls at the tents were disarmingly pretty and charming, but they didn't have a clue when it came to local information. Which was probably because they weren't local.

This is not having a dig at the hotel association, as there should be more research performed of tourists once they are in situ, but if, as a tourist, you see something proclaiming to be for tourist information, then that is what you expect it to provide. It was a case not just of reflecting badly on Muro town hall (which had nothing to do with the tents) as also reflecting badly on the cadre of personnel at the front-line of tourist interaction, the staff at the regular tourist offices.

The tourist information offices rarely seem to get much of a mention in the grand tourism scheme, but, from my experiences with offices in the northern part of Mallorca, their staff are knowledgeable, helpful and patient. I take my hat off to them. They do a fantastic job, often under pressure. You try switching between different languages, confronted by a never-ending queue of tourists seeking out information; doing this, day in, day out for several months, rarely getting the chance to take a breather.

It would be understandable, therefore, if this staff were themselves none too impressed by the wannabe tourist offices and the potential for a reputation for helpfulness and knowledge to be undermined.

The wish on behalf of the hotels to undertake some market research was fair enough. Whether the little that seems to be done has much effect is hard to say. Puerto Pollensa has issued a questionnaire for some time now, yet here is a resort which constantly seems to get in the neck for one reason or another. You fancy the results are carefully filed in some dusty archive room and never again see the light of day.

Approaching tourists under the pretext that market research is being done can, however, not be all it seems. The wretched time-share touts of Alcúdia (who mercifully seem not to be around this season) once used this as a tactic; all part, they said, of promotion of the resort. It was utter rubbish of course.

But however market research is done and by whoever, the key to it all is knowing what it is you really find out and asking the right questions. The questionnaire in Puerto Pollensa had such gems as rating, from one to ten, the "price/quality ratio of installations in your accomodation (accommodation spelt incorrectly)". How are you supposed to answer this, even if you know what it means? What is the point of asking about staff "professionality" (does such a word exist) in "non-food shopping facilities"?

Tourism market research. Yes, it's a good idea, but only if it's done meaningfully and not behind the guise of something else.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 29 May 2011

A fine and sunny Sunday in prospect. Probably not particularly hot, more normal for the time of year - up to 25 perhaps. As of 09.30, the local high (Puerto Pollensa) is 21.6 C. The week ahead looks rather unsettled, with Tuesday showing a strong risk of rain.

It's been a lovely day, not too hot, reasonable breeze. Maximums on the coast in Alcúdia and Puerto Pollensa have been 23.8 C; warmer inland in Pollensa at 25.1 C.

How To Screw Up: Hotels

Here's a case study for you. Assume it's still last year, you own a hotel, a fairly small hotel popular for years with British families and firmly "British" in reputation. You get a bit edgy about the way things are, not just with the British tourism market but also with the competition from all-inclusives (you are, at present, a mix of self-catering and board). What do you do? Do you carry on in the same way or do you change completely?

I'm naming neither the hotel nor the resort, but the case study has panned out as follows. The hotel has switched to being primarily German and primarily all-inclusive. It is still possible for British tourists, of which many have been loyal and regular visitors, to book, but the Britishness has gone. The entertainment has changed. It was never grand, but it was homely, constrained by its budget and the domain of someone who was, in many ways, the "face" of the hotel.

British visitors have faced something of a surprise. In addition to the switch in emphasis to being German, which includes a different emphasis when it comes to the food, if they have booked all-inclusive, this hasn't turned quite as they might have expected.

The hotel, remember, is fairly small. It has a restaurant, but it doesn't have the facility for providing the sort of food, out of set dining hours, that is commonly associated with all-inclusives: pizzas, chips, burgers from a snack bar. Drink there is, on demand, but the guest is obliged to pay a deposit for his or her glass; a deposit for a plastic glass.

Because there are only set dining-times, if guests arrive after ten in the evening, there is nothing for them. The kitchen can't be opened. There is no flexibility, despite the guests being all-inclusive.

Not all guests have booked all-inclusive. Those who have come on a self-catering basis are greeted with the possibility of their upgrading, at a daily rate, to all-inclusive. It's what the hotel wants; it's what it almost expects. The rooms for those who insist on remaining self-catering have to then have equipment re-installed that had been taken away on the expectation that it wouldn't be required. The microwave, for instance, has to be put back.

Though primarily German, other nationalities are booked in. In addition to the British, there are the Russians. They are on their way. If the British and Germans don't always see eye-to-eye, then the Germans and Russians positively detest each other. In a large complex, nationalities are diluted, but in a fairly small hotel, they are not. And they are all-inclusive. Likely to be there, all together, all getting on each other's nerves.

The hotel, and the season has barely started, seems to realise that it has made an error. It is already considering going back to the board and self-catering mix, abandoning all-inclusive and getting the British back. So why did it take the route it has for this summer?

It panicked. It saw that the British market was struggling, and so looked for more secure markets, the German one mainly. But it leapt too quickly. As things have turned out, the British market has recovered. Not totally, certainly not, but sufficiently, and aided by events in north Africa. It also miscalculated. As a smallish hotel, but with a loyal British following and a good reputation, the British market would probably still have been viable, even if Egypt and Tunisia hadn't come along.

This case study is informative in many ways, one being a lesson for hotels which, believing they have to jump to the all-inclusive tune, have to be sure they can deliver. This one can't, not in the way the guest expects it to. It's too small. Even larger hotels in Mallorca have problems, because they were not designed with all-inclusive in mind.

But more than this, it is informative in acting as a cautionary tale for hotels that would ignore their loyal markets. Apart from the nationality mix, many British guests don't want all-inclusive. Not everyone does. The worst aspect for the hotel is that the internet will be alive with the sound of its being criticised. It acted in a supremely short-term manner. It didn't think through the consequences, and now it faces a challenge of recovering a reputation, one that is likely to be damaged more, as we are still only in May.

And more than all this, for guests who have been dissatisfied, it is not just the hotel but also the resort and the island which suffer. "Never again," said one guest. And never again might mean Turkey in the future. The greatest lesson should be that everyone in tourism is in it together, but they are not. They are in it for themselves, and the rest can go hang.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 28 May 2011

After yesterday's strange weather, things seem to be back to normal. A calm, sunny morning but with some cloud over the mountains. At 08.00, the local maximum is 20.1 C in Alcúdia/Playa de Muro.

A sunny day it has been, but not especially warm. Today's high has been away from the coast in Pollensa town at 22.4 C.

Wolf In Sheep's Clothing: the PP

The PP has delivered, thus bringing joy to a British expatriate community assumed to be, but far from exclusively, as tending to the right or a good deal further. Next year the PP will deliver unto Spain a new president, Mariano Rajoy. What, though, really is the PP? This is not an idle question, as it relates to how it is often perceived.

An old university friend of mine has lived in Barcelona since the late 1970s. Fluent in the languages, conversant with the nuances of language and of social and political life in Catalonia and Spain, he has also taught political theory - at La Salle University.

The other day, he asked me what I thought about the blue wave of the PP washing over the Balearics and then went on to give a perspective on the PP and on its treatment by the media. It's his, but it is not his alone.

Amongst other things, one paragraph stood out. I quote:

"I would take issue with the British press. They constantly describe the PP as a 'right-of-centre party', implying that it is some kind of benign, Disraeli, villa Tory outfit, when in reality it is easily the most right-wing mainstream party in Europe."

This isn't a simple matter of semantics. Delete "centre", and "right" on its own takes on a different complexion. A convention of using "centre-right" conforms with how we like to perceive the British Conservative Party, or how it, and most of the press, wishes it to be perceived. Whether the current version is, is a moot point, but within it do not lurk the issues that surround the PP and which are not of the centre.

The PP is a beast of immediate post-Franco times. Though it was founded in 1989, its lineage is clear; back to 1976 and when the Alianza Popular was created by Franco's former tourism minister. Manuel Fraga was considered a moderate in Franco terms. But all things are relative. The AP struggled for the first few years of its life because it was seen as representative of the old authoritarianism.

The PP still suffers from a hardline image, despite its portrayal as centre-right and despite Rajoy attempting to make himself appear moderate; elements within his party are anything but. It can't rid itself of its lineage. Indeed, it reinforces it. The neutering of the judge Baltasar Garzón has widely been seen as having been driven by the PP, with the Falange a willing castrator.

While this might all sound as though it is leading towards a paean for PSOE, it isn't. I can damn PSOE as well as I can the PP. But, although PSOE - Zapatero and Antich - have proven not to be up to the task of tackling economic crisis in Spain or the Balearics, the party has been responsible for a significant shift in social attitudes. It is Zapatero's one great achievement: one that elements within the PP would wish to reverse and destroy. And Rajoy has not convinced that he would be able to stop them, even were he to wish to.

To this social agenda, one can add the economic one. The Chicago school of slash-and-burn. Milton Friedman et al; Reaganomics, Thatcherism. I can already hear some voices cheering at the prospect. Spain needed and needs a dose of economic realism, but at what cost? And at what cost to Mallorca?

One of the criticisms levelled against José Bauzá is that he is merely an instrument of the bidding of the PP nationally. When Rajoy wins the next general election, a target for the PP will be the autonomous regions, of which the Balearics are one. A compliant PP president in Palma, and the agenda to slash dramatically the regions' spending, and one advocated by the IMF and others, will be set.

Bauzá, the PP, have enjoyed a good week. They have enjoyed a largely uncritical and non-analytical examination as to what is to come and as to the wolf that hides in the clothing of the sheepish Rajoy, who has been distinctly coy so as not to frighten the flocks of the Spanish electorate. And when the divisions that exist within the PP in Mallorca re-surface, ones related, for example, to the control by the national party and to anti-Catalanism, are grafted onto a national agenda of social illiberalism, the past week might start not to look so good.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Friday, May 27, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Hoteliers slam Puerto Pollensa beaches

The hotel association in Puerto Pollensa has unleashed a savage criticism of Pollensa town hall over the delay in sorting out the management of the beaches. Though the sunbeds and parasols should now be coming out, the contract having been firmed up, the hoteliers find it unacceptable that at the end of May the beaches should be stripped of their sunbeds. They complain that this does nothing for the image of Puerto Pollensa and threatens repeat tourism.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 May 2011

More cloud around this morning, which chimes with the forecast, but it doesn't look like rain. The local high, at 08.30, is Puerto Pollensa at 22.1 C. The forecast seems decent for the weekend, but rain appears to be looming early next week, with the greatest risk being on Tuesday.

There was a distinct change this afternoon. The wind getting up, clouds coming in and temperatures falling. From morning maximums around 25, they have slumped to 20 C or lower by 19.00.

Carme Chameleon: Alcúdia's coalitions

While there are many town halls whose administration, post-election, is clearcut, there are plenty where it is not. One, as mentioned previously, is Alcúdia.

The Partido Popular and its would-be mayor, Coloma Terrasa, have eight councillors, one short of a majority of nine. There are nine other councillors, split among the Convergència and PSOE (four apiece) and the PSM (Mallorcan socialists) with one.

It is the final one on this list, the PSM, which is the most interesting, as the party potentially holds the key to the future administration in the town and, if it were to prove to be so, would be evidence as to how bizarre Mallorca's politics can be. Bizarre and opportunistic.

The PSM is everything the PP is not. It is left-wing, nationalist (i.e. veering towards independence), Catalanist, and as green as a party can be without actually calling itself green. The twain of the PSM and the PP should never meet, except in darkened alleys when they encounter each other for an ideological punch-up, but the twain could yet meet in the corridors of Alcúdia town hall power.

The sole councillor that the PSM now has, Carme Garcia, is the first councillor the party has had in Alcúdia. Time to show some muscle, it would appear; time to be shown some respect. The PSM across the island has done fairly well out of the elections. Not that it fared any better at regional parliament level than it did in 2007. It has the same number of seats and its percentage of the vote went down fractionally. Yet, it can claim to now being the third force in the island.

A reason for this was the collapse of the Convergència. While it maintains pockets of resistance in town halls, such as Alcúdia, generally it has been consigned to the political dustbin, taking with it its own nationalism of the right. The PSM is now the third force and now the main voice for Mallorcan aspirations.

It is against this background that Garcia has said that she would consider an agreement with the PP whereby an alliance would create the nine councillors required. It would be the most unholy of alliances. More than this, it would be a complete sell-out of political credibility. Not of course that this stops parties combining with others when they have their eye on the main chance; think Liberal Democrats, for example. But a tie-up between the PP and the PSM would be utterly absurd.

Garcia, though she says that she would be capable of being mayor, doesn't have the brassneck to suggest that a pact with the PP would mean that she should be mayor. Thank heavens for such humility. The people of Alcúdia might have granted the PSM the opportunity of town hall representation, but there should be some context in all of this.

The PP obtained almost 40% of the vote. The Convergència and PSOE were virtually identical - in the low 20s. The PSM got just over 6% from a turnout of 55%, which is its own story as it was by far the lowest among the five largest northern municipalities. I don't know how many people this equates to, but from a population of some 19,000 and bearing in mind how many might actually be on the electoral census, an estimate might be around 300.

On any moral grounds, the PP's right to administer the town hall and Coloma Terrasa's right to be mayor should be givens. But they are not. The Convergència and PSOE formed the previous coalition. They might yet do so again, if Garcia could be persuaded. Such a scenario says much about the proportional system and much also about how local town politics are not always about political ideology. In the case of the PP and the PSM, they most certainly are, but the Convergència and PSOE are different.

Though ostensibly of the right and the left, they are chummy. This chumminess can be a virtue, and it worked well enough for most of the last administration, but it can equally be seen as being divisive, especially if it denies the PP its place in the town hall sun.

I make no bones. I don't much care for the PP, but the electoral system can be held open to ridicule. The PP deserves to be installed, but there would be no thing more ridiculous than for it to be installed with the aid of the PSM.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Puerto Pollensa beaches and the sunbeds

The issue as to which organisation will be operating the sunbeds and parasols on Puerto Pollensa's beaches seems to now be settled, the company F&A having finally formally been given the contract by the town hall. The neighbourhood association, which had put out sunbeds and which operated the beach last year, had then to remove them as no contract existed. The association may still take the town hall to arbitration over the matter.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 May 2011

Distinctly warmer by night, the duvets are now off. Top temperature, on an already by 08.30 warm morning, is Puerto Pollensa at 20.4 C. Cloud build-up being forecast for today, some chance there might be rain tomorrow, but otherwise generally fine.

And today it has been hot, the high in the area being in Alcúdia/Playa de Muro at 30.8 C.

Something's A Bit Fishy: La Gola

They were trawling dead fish out of La Gola again. Hundreds of young sea bass suffocated in the water of the canal, creating a fine old take-away for the seagulls which came from miles around to feast.

This is the small La Gola lagoon in Puerto Pollensa. Together with its accompanying park, it is referred to, by politicians who rush to make such environmentally righteous statements, as the green heartbeat of the resort. Or something like this. It's tosh, whatever it is. I have previously used La Gola to denote an item of expenditure, one of questionable sense. "It'll cost you a lagola, mate." 800 grand, give or take the odd thousand; what it cost to do whatever it was they did. They being the collective of the town hall and regional government. (There is another cost quoted in respect of La Gola; one substantially greater - four million.)

To be fair, some parts of the park look reasonable enough. The problem has been, ever since it was officially opened and before this, keeping it in order. Out of order, it has been a haven for graffiti-ists, botellón-ists and all manner of other ists. Amidst the periodic disorder, they built a visitors' centre. It's not completely useless, as it does give information about bird and wildlife in other parts of the island, e.g. the Tramuntana mountains. But whether twitchers or others flock pilgrim-like in great numbers to it in order to avail themselves of its wisdom, I really couldn't say.

It is the case, though, that La Gola and the wetlands of Albufereta and the now newly-reopened Can Cullerassa finca, a few kilometres along the coast, are important in attracting the keen birdwatcher. La Gola has recently been visited by an obscure heron, one that caused great excitement among the feathered-friend-fancying fraternity.

The appearance of the heron might be considered evidence of the green heartbeat actually beating. On the other hand, it might not be, and the sea bass would probably be inclined to agree that it wasn't. The fish were fried, it would appear, because no one has got round to properly dredging the canal. Clogged up, sea water can't get in adequately.

La Gola is something of a metaphor for what occurs elsewhere in Mallorca, one that relates to a division of responsibilities that the relevant bodies seem either unaware of or unable or unwilling to do anything about.

Pollensa town hall, the usual suspect when anything goes wrong in Puerto Pollensa, will doubtless get it in the neck over the sea bass and for the general upkeep of the pond, but, for once, it isn't the town hall's fault. The water, indeed the whole park, come under the auspices of the regional government's environment ministry. The town hall is meant to keep the park up to scratch, which is a sore point among the locals, but as for the water: not its job.

Ultimately, it's probably the responsibility of the national Costas authority, a division of the central environment ministry, but which devolves responsibility back to its Balearics wing. This, as with other regional Costas wings, devotes its energies primarily to knocking things down, such as buildings on beaches, rather than keeping things shipshape.

The division of responsibilities in the La Gola case should be clear enough, but the environment ministry is being charged, by locals in the port, with not giving sufficient priority to its maintenance or to removing sand that is dragged in from the sea. It could well be that, governmental coffers having been silted up, it has to give priorities elsewhere.

A lesson of La Gola is that they went in, like some invading force in Iraq, all environmental guns blazing but failed to consider the longer-term consequences, such as maintaining it once all the money had been spent or seeing the need for the sappers to be set to work re-trenching the canal. It may just have been bad luck. Money running out and all that.

Meanwhile, the division of responsibilities means that the town hall will be mistakenly considered the guilty party by many, while the real culprits are hiding away in a bunker in Palma.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Formentor beach gains blue flag status

In the new list of blue flag beaches released today, Formentor beach in Pollensa now receives recognition. This adds it to other beaches in the Pollensa and Alcúdia areas which have blue flags. These include coves in Cala San Vicente, Puerto Pollensa beach, Puerto Alcúdia beach, Playa de Muro and Can Picafort. Elsewhere in Mallorca, six beaches have lost their blue flags; Cala Mesquida and Magalluf being two of them.

MALLORCA TODAY - Dead fish in La Gola

Hundreds of dead young sea bass were retrieved from the La Gola canal in Puerto Pollensa yesterday. The fish are presumed to have died as a consequence of suffocating in the water which, it is argued by local residents, has not been dredged by the regional government environment ministry and so impedes sea water coming into the canal. The dead fish are by no means the first ones in La Gola, which local people have condemned because of the lack of maintenance.

MALLORCA TODAY - And yet another fall from a balcony

Another day, another fall from a Mallorcan hotel balcony. This time, a Swede aged 36 or 40 depending on which report you read, from the second or third floor of Magalluf's Comodoro de Playa.

Eighteen-year-old Jake Evans, who survived a fall of some twenty metres from a balcony at the Torrenova Playa, is recovering in hospital and telling the local Spanish press what happened. Something about retrieving a lighter, and then slipping. A sunbed cushioned his fall.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 May 2011

A warm going on hot day, heading towards midday. The local maximum is 25.5 C in Pollensa town, as of 11.15.

The weather is set to change on Friday, a front coming in from the Atlantic bringing temperatures, which are uncommonly high for the time of year, down three to four degrees. While the 30 mark has not been hit in the north, it has been elsewhere in Mallorca over the past 24 hours.

And it has been another very warm one, with the interior being hottest. Pollensa town hit the local high today with 27.2 C.

A Free Bag Of Crisps: Spanish pensionistas

It's the moment that bars dread. They see them coming. Should they put the shutters down swiftly? Should they flee? Take to the hills? They come ever closer. A huge gaggle of them. An invading army commandeering a bar. A court like that of the Catholic Kings which would turn up wherever it would on its itinerant and peripatetic caravanning around Spain and take over a hostelry or several. British bars generally are spared, because they are British. It is the Spanish, the Mallorcan bar which bears the brunt. Who or what is this unstoppable force? It is that of the Spanish pensioner. The pensionista excursionistas.

Maybe bars should join together and arrange for lookouts at all access points into a town or resort. These lookouts could warn of a sighting of a coach that isn't loaded to the gunwales with nice, friendly, grateful, money-loaded tourists from foreign lands. Beacons should be lit. Rockets fired. The pensionista charabanc has hit town.

The noise alone is bad enough. An elderly Maria, having secured a corner table, shouts across the room to another elderly Maria, and so it reverberates, back and forth, the pensionista vocal ping-pong. If it's Spanish, it is not quite so decibel-shattering. If it's Mallorquín, it breaks the sound barrier. A Concord boom of wailing. Cats on hot tin seats, screeching.

A bar in Alcúdia town was once deceptively Spanish. It was run by two British chaps. The pensionistas used to be blissfully unaware. They would enter, take over every available seat, place orders for a cortado or a caña and then ... . Then they would issue their demands. Demands which were greeted, not by the resigned acceptance of a Spanish bar owner buckling, as though some protection-racket extortion were being performed, but by a curt four-letter word accompanied by a three-letter one (or their Spanish equivalents).

The demands are for free plates of crisps or olives or nibbles of other varieties. While a bar might commonly dish these out in any event, it is not the norm for them to be demanded, and demanded by entire busloads. But it is, and it is expected. The other norm is for the cortado to act as a lubricant to the packed lunch or boccadillo that pops out of many a handbag. Yet a further norm is the time. These are never swift cortados, these are never in-and-out jobs. The bar owner looks on forlornly, calculating the revenue from the cortados and balancing it against the loss from platos combinados that sit in the kitchen, waiting for their microwave. And waiting.

The bar is not the only potential target. Also in Alcúdia town, a friend explained how once there was a ring on the bell of her house. A pensionista was on the doorstep and asked if she might use the toilet. Being of a naturally altruistic disposition and being confronted by some Spanish antiquity in need of relief, she took pity. Pity which quickly turned to rejection when, as with male hitchhikers who hide behind a bush while their female companions flag down an unwary driver, the toilet-seeker called out to her compatriots. Household lavatories are ill-prepared for flushing on fifty occasions over a short period of time. Always assuming the period of time would have been short. And there was no guarantee of that.

Moving on from the pensionistas and, for once, a second, unrelated subject. Mallorca Rocks.

The confusion that surrounds the concerts at the hotel this season grows, the regional tourism ministry effectively turning down a request for a licence on the grounds that it doesn't have the authority to grant one. Where are we at with all of this, if, as reports seem to suggest, the hotel cannot make the concerts open to the public (which presumably means an entrance-paying non-guest)?

The opposition to the concerts is, notwithstanding issues in respect of licences, unfortunate, to say the least.

Ask yourselves this. How can these concerts that would bring music acts of international renown to Magalluf and the island, that would positively enhance the reputation of resort and island, that would be a smack of originality among what is all too often a poverty of innovation, that would, moreover, finish before midnight on their once-weekly occurrence be anything other than a benefit, and one not just to Mallorca Rocks? I'll say no more.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Mallorca Rocks - not rocking?

The 17 concerts planned for the Mallorca Rocks hotel in Magalluf this summer appear to be in serious question now that the regional government's tourism ministry has stated that it is not legally competent to authorise the concerts. A report from the ministry appears to turn down the possibility of staging concerts open to the public in hotels. An application for a secondary licence for staging concerts seems to run counter to laws and regulations regarding what a hotel can or cannot do. These regulations permit entertainment of the type commonly staged in hotels, but not that envisaged by Mallorca Rocks.

The tourist business association Acotur, together with two other organisations, one being the association for discos, had challenged the staging of the concerts and the position of Calvia town hall which, so Acotur claims, had granted a new licence to the hotel with "scandalous speed".

The first of the concerts at Mallorca Rocks is meant to take place on 31 May.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 May 2011

A bright morning with some hazy cloud. The local high at 08.30 is inland in Pollensa town at 22.4C.
Temperatures up to 26C envisaged for today and tomorrow. On Thursday, there is due to be predominantly cloud, which will break on Friday.

Certainly the hottest day of the year, 26.3C being registered in both Pollensa town and Alcúdia/Playa de Muro and 26.2C in Puerto Pollensa.

Showtime: The new regime

So, as we all knew would be the case, normal order has been restored to Mallorca's politics. The PP prevail once again, as they normally have prevailed. The Bauzá bounce has trounced Antich, sending him into the abyss.

So long and farewell, Francesc. You arrived on a train in 2007, announcing that the past four years were to have been its age, and you left in the lost-luggage department of discarded political parties.

You take with you Francina, ar-mangled at the Council of Mallorca by the charms of Salome. While you, Francesc, were stepping from the door of the train to the platform of a new age, Francina was declaring that her doors would always be open. But now they are just hanging from the hinges, banging in the wind of political isolation. Will we see either of you again?

With you, go whichever allies you had managed to persuade to come along for the ride or who you were left with no choice but to appoint: Gabriel Vicens of the PSM, environment and transport supremo, a John Prescott for the tree-hugging classes, a left hook here to a golf course, a right upper-cut there to a train or two. Yes, Gabriel, it was you who really derailed the Alcúdia train.

You fought long and hard to protect a wild orchid and some birds at Son Bosc. Now, the PP will come yomping across the finca, staking out the bunkers for the golf course and taking high-velocity air rifles to any bird that flaps into view. The PP's gun dogs will sniff in the undergrowth for the bodies of old environmentalism.

Joana Barceló. Poor Joana. The final occupant of the tourism ministry. Ashes to ashes, you depart covered in an ash cloud and the shroud of misdeeds that were not of your doing.

We say goodbye to all these, tears dropping from our eyes as they wave from the back of the good ship PSOE And Friends which will drift around aimlessly for the next four years.

As we bid them adieu, we welcome the new king. Long live King Bauzá. The new emperor and his new clothes. We will find out whether he is wearing any. It is the lot of presidents of small islands that they can promise much but find they are as impotent as those who have gone before, and as reliant upon the largesse of Madrid as has always been the case. A Madrid that is eyeing up what the islands and other regional governments spend.

King Bauzá and his queen Salome will have been dancing the seven veils into the small hours of celebration and demanding: "Bring me the head of Francesc Antich". And there it is, on a plate, because it was always going to be. For four years, Antich had awaited his fate, the inevitable reversion to the norm of Mallorca's politics. The PP.

Away from the balls and palaces of Palma, the great unwashed in the provinces have been waving their own fond farewells. But for some, it is a long goodbye.

The trading, haggling and bartering of the town hall souks now begin. Winners who would be mayors or ruling parties may find they are neither. It is a peculiarity of Mr. D'Hondt and his proportional system that firstly, and like the Duckworth-Lewis cricket-matches-affected-by-rain method, no one has the faintest idea how it works, and secondly that a party can secure twice as many councillors as the next party cab off the rank and still find it necessary to keep the day job. Thus may be the prospect for Coloma of Alcúdia. One of eight PP councillors, but not a single friend among the other nine who might ensure she is pushed over the mayoral finishing-line.

The past few days of Mallorca political life have been jolly. The fun, though, is only now starting. We will wait four years for the next elections to entertain us, but these, the elections, are but the star attraction in the endless spectacular and Brian Rix with his trousers down Consolat de Mar and ayuntamientos' farce that is Mallorca and its politics. Let the new show start.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Monday, May 23, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Another British holidaymaker falls from a balcony

A nineteen-year-old British youth, named as Jacqos (which may well be the wrong name) Evans, was rushed to Son Espases hospital in Palma, having fallen this morning from a balcony on the seventh floor of the Torrenova Playa hotel in Magalluf. His injuries are not said to be as serious they might have been, given the height that he fell from.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 May 2011

Mallorca has woken to a brand new Partido Popular dawn, and I can already see the headlines in "The Bulletin" which will use much this same cliché. Nice and sunny and already, by 08.30, over 20 degrees, with 22.4C in Puerto Pollensa being the high. The heat is now starting to kick in.

And warm again today. Highs in the local area between 24 and 25 degrees.


Regional Parliament (four leading groupings)
Partido Popular:
35 seats (increase of 7 seats compared with 2007), 46.48% of the vote (swing of + 0.98% on 2007)
PSOE: 14 seats (down 2); 21.41% (down from 27.6%)
PSM and others: 4 seats (no change); 8.61% (down from 8.98%)
PSOE - Pacte: 4 seats (down 2); 3.06% (down from 4.56%)

Council of Mallorca
Partido Popular: 7 seats; 46.34% of the vote
PSOE: 4 seats; 25.46%
PSM-EN: 2 seats; 12.14%

Partido Popular: 8 councillors (up 2); 39.25% of the vote (up from 31.82%)
CxI: 4 councillors (down 3 as the UM in 2007); 23.15% (down from 34.69%)
PSOE: 4 councillors (no change); 22.37% (up from 22.26%)
PSM and others: 1 councillor (up one); 6.35%

Partido Popular: 5 councillors (no change); 24.29%
La Lliga: 3 councillors (N/A); 15.83%
Alternativa: 2 councillors (N/A); 12.24%
PSOE: 2 councillors (down 2); 11.78%
CiU: 2 councillors; 9.48%
UMP: 1 councillor; 9.07%
PSM and others: 1 councillor; 7.98%
ERAM: 1 councillor; 5.46%
PSIP: 0 councillors; 1.77%

The situations in Alcúdia and Pollensa are far from clear. In Alcúdia, the PP is one councillor short of a majority, but its options for pacts are limited. The CxI and PSOE were partners in the previous administration and if they were to being in the new PSM councillor, this would give them control of the town hall and could well see Miguel Llompart staying on as mayor. There is a possibility that the CxI could go with the PP, but the relationship has been uneasy till now. PSOE, interestingly, hae actually managed to increase their share of the Alcúdia vote.

In Pollensa, it is completely confused. The obvious pact would be PP with UMP (as before) plus La Lliga, which was formed as a breakaway from the PP. This would give them the nine councillors needed and, at a guess, would see Malena Estrany of the Lliga installed as mayor. But whether La Lliga would go with the PP, given the acrimony that led to its creation, must be open to question. Whatever emerges, Pollensa's town hall is likely to remain as confused as the election result.

On Election Day - 2: The polling station

"Surname." Out come the ID cards, or not as the case may be. The local policeman, organising the queues, confirms who is in the right or wrong line. "Fornes," some chime. Fornes? I'm not voting for Fornes, yet I appear to be in his queue. It is of course a joke, or maybe it isn't. F is part of the A-M line. The policeman, one of the local plod at loggerheads with the mayor, smiles at the joke. He'll be tired of it later in the day no doubt. He's extremely efficient, ushering with a gentle shove the oldsters who would tarry to enquire after someone's hip operation as they are exiting the polling station.

I am in a quandary. Who actually do I vote for? I haven't got my envelopes, so disappear behind a curtain as though I'm meant to undress and get into one of those hospital gowns that they've forgotten to make with a back. I go into default mode. PSOE. The habit of a lifetime. It won't make a scrap of difference, but I do anyway.

A pink voting slip, a blue voting slip; will you vote for me one day? One day maybe. If there is iniquity in the voting system, it is that you don't actually get the opportunity not to vote directly for Count Dracula of the PP. As for the Council of Mallorca, why would you anyway? It's a pointless institution.

The Fornes gag is, though, revealing. Why are the locals voting? Yes, they'll vote for the regional parliament, but it is the mayor that interests them more. This is really why they are here.

The two queues, A-M and N-Z (not many Z's you'd imagine) are unevenly distributed. There is not so much a quiet mumbling and muttering as a general and loud chit-chat about the length of the A-M queue. Why the unevenness, I wonder? All heavily loaded in favour of Cifres, I conclude. The name-checking against the lists of the electorate must be a thankless task for the party faithful who have been assigned the task. The name is called out, and ... It could be any one of hundreds. It's a problem when everyone in Mallorca has the same name.

You begin to appreciate why there are all the various surnames. No one would have a clue who they were without them. And we go through the surname routine when it's my turn. No, it's one surname and two Christian names. One of the chaps moving the white, pink and blue sheets back and forth on the ballot boxes to permit the depositing of the envelopes seems to find this quite amusing. Not as amusing as I find the fact that Mallorcans and Spaniards have that many names they could individually be a football team.

Once the deed is done, I do some more wondering. It has taken around 45 minutes to get to the ballot box. It's a pleasant, sunny day. There are other things one could be doing. I've voted, but what for? And I am meant to be one of those who is quite well-informed. I know well enough the issues as they affect Muro, but by the same token I don't know them. And you feel like an outsider, which, in truth, is what you are, intruding on someone's party to which they have reluctantly invited you.

The social gathering of the polling station, entire families swelling the numbers in the queues, the very ancient being wheeled in and being greeted from all quarters, the yap of impenetrable, rural Mallorquín with its sound of a mouth full of potatoes being consumed by a startled cat; these all add to a feeling of being distant, of not really knowing the issues. Because how can you when you are not a part of the networks, the families, the old ties?

There is very little reaching-out. Muro, like so many places in Mallorca, is a closed community. And the local elections reflect this. Fornes, for whom I've not voted, contradicts the traditional ruralism of the town. A modern man who did a modern job with a modern company, a representative of a town's transformation, but one that remains somehow hidden because of the distance between the town itself and the resort of Playa de Muro. But he, for all his modernity, is still a son of this old world.

As I leave the polling station and turn the corner, there is Martí Fornes. He is dressed casually but smartly. His wife, or a woman I take to be his wife, is darkish blonde with some bling. She is rummaging in her handbag. Fornes has stopped to talk to someone. An old farmer-type character on a moped with a box of vegetables strapped to the back. In this one scene, you see everything you need to see.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Bauzá new president of the Balearics

José Bauzá's PP has won a comfortable victory in the elections for the three most important institutions in the Balearics - the regional parliament, the Council of Mallorca and Palma town hall.

José Bauzá will become the new president of the Balearics, María Salom, the new president of the Council and Mateo Isern, the new mayor of Palma.

The PP has secured 34 seats in the regional parliament, an overall majority of three. With 19 councillors, it has also won the Council and, and with 17 it has secured Palma.

MALLORCA TODAY - PP wins Balearics election

The Partido Popular appears to have won the regional election in the Balearics, with an absolute majority. More will follow.

The PP would seem to have also secured the Council of Mallorca and Palma council with overall majorities.

The PP would appear to have 33 seats in the regional government parliament, thus giving the party overall majority. This would represent an increase of five seats, but the percentage of the vote, compared with 2007, is virtually unaltered. PSOE, the socialist party of now former President Antich has lost two seats and a drop in the percentage of the vote of nearly 5%. The third most popular party grouping is the left led by the PSM, Mallorcan socialists, but they will stick with four seats and a similar percentage of the vote (down slightly in fact), Other parties, such as the old Unió Mallorquina, now the Convergència, seem to have been wiped out.

ALCUDIA: The PP has secured eight seats in the local council and 39% of the votes, but this doesn't secure the mayor's post for Coloma Terrasa. The CxI of Miguel Llompart has four seats and just under 23%. Llompart could well hang on.

POLLENSA: The PP has the most votes, the highest percentage of the vote and five seats in the town hall, but the mayoral position is wide open. La Lliga and the Alternativa have three seats and respective percentages of 17 and 13%.

Updating ...
POLLENSA: The Alternativa has two councillors with a 12% share. La Lliga has three with 16%. PSOE and the Convergència have two councillors apiece. Wide open for the mayor's job.

REGIONAL PARLIAMENT: PP has 34 seats, a majority of three. PSOE has 14 seats. The PP will form the new government, and José Bauzá is the new president of the Balearics.

Updating ...
SANTA MARGALIDA: The CPU (Can Picafort Unit) has increased the number of its councillors by two to six in all. The PP has lost one, down to four, and a share of the vote, which doesn't bode well for Martí Torres, the mayor prior to the election, but in association with the CPU, he may well hang on. The independents and PSOE alliance has five councillors, but this is down one on their combined totals in 2007.

MURO: The Convergència Democràtica Murera has four councillors, half the number needed for an absolute majority. With its PP allies, for which there are two councillors, Martí Fornes is likely to stay on as mayor, but the CxI (the former Unió Mallorquina) and a combination of other parties could draw this into question.

ALCUDIA: The CxI of Miguel Llompart has seen its number of councillors cut by three from 2007 when, as the UM, it had seven councillors, more than any other party. A combination of CxI, PSOE and PSM should see Llompart pushed over the line as, between them, they have nine councillors to the PP's eight. The absolute majority required was ten.

COUNCIL OF MALLORCA: María Salom will be the new president of the Council, the PP having obtained an absolute majority with 19 councillors.

Bauzá, Salom, Isern all win for the PP
The Partido Popular, as expected, has won a convincing victory in elections for the regional parliament of the Balearics, the Council of Mallorca and Palma town hall. José Bauzá will become the new president of the Balearics, María Salom, the new president of the Council and Mateo Isern, the new mayor of Palma.

The PP has secured 34 seats in the regional parliament, an overall majority of three. With 19 councillors, it has also won the Council and, and with 17 it has secured Palma.

Updating ...
The PP has 35 seats in the regional parliament. PSOE has 14 and others together amount to 10.

ALCUDIA: The PP, which has won the election in Alcúdia with eight councillors, may now pact with the CxI, which would mean the CxI dropping its previous association with PSOE. Were this new coalition to be formed, it could still mean that Miguel Llompart stays as mayor, though the odds must be on Coloma Terrasa taking over.

MALLORCA TODAY - Real Mallorca stay up

Astonishingly, Real Mallorca were very nearly relegated. Losing 4-3 at home to Atlético Madrid didn't help and nor did other results, except for Deportivo La Coruña (remember them from Champions League days) who also lost at home and were thus condemned to the drop.

The team have been poor and they just got worse towards the end of the season, with some terrible results, such as the loss at bottom club Almeria. Coach Michael Laudrup may stay, but there are plenty of rumours suggesting he won't, and in truth, why would he? The club's got no money and it's not going anywhere.

Real Mallorca:
Aouate; Cendrós (sub. Joao Victor, 46 min.), Nunes, Ramis, Ayoze; Nsue (sub. Victor, 71 min.), Martí, De Guzmán, Tejera (sub. Castro, 53 min.), Pereira; Webó
Goals: Nsue (62 min., penalty); Webó (70 min., 90 min.)

Atlético Madrid:
De Gea; Valera, Ujfalusi, Pulido, Filipe Luis (sub. Raúl García, sub. 82 min.); Juanfran, Mario Suárez (sub. Assuncao, 67 min.), Thiago, Koke; Reyes, Agüero (sub. Elías, 84 min.)
Goals: Agüero (12 min., 59 min., 80 min.); Juanfran (17 min.)

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 May 2011

A fine sunny morning, a good one to be voting on, if you can be bothered. Best temperature locally by 09.00, 19.7 C in Puerto Pollensa.

One of the warmest days of the year so far, with highs everywhere at 24.3 C.

On Election Day

There is still something of the Sunday finery about the Mallorcan towns and villages. You notice it less in the resorts, but in the "pueblos" they put on best bib 'n' tucker on a Sunday. It's snobbishness in truth.

There are lady wives of the old farmers or landowners who made good and got lucky by selling out to the tourism shilling or who found themselves, Forrest Gump-like when he was sent his share certificate for Apple Computer, part owners of some tourism empire, thanks to whatever force - family, friendship or something dark - was at work.

Now summer is nearly here, the Sunday firs have been put into mothballs and the dehumidifier will be raging twenty-four hours in their vicinity. The cashmere cardy assumes shoulder position instead, a few inches below a face that permanently betrays the presence of something that smells less than pleasant. It is the face of many an older Mallorcan woman whose man was once showered by all his Christmases in one go: a face contorted in contempt.

On election day, on a Sunday, the finery is finer than ever. The old, got-lucky farmers and even the not so lucky old men don that long-forgotten adornment - the hat. They head first to the polling station, then to church to pray for what they have just done and then argue about what they have done over a luncheon of pork and cabbage.

In Muro town, election day is Sunday and also market day. The unholy trinity of finery days and of making it nigh on impossible to find a parking space.

Of the elderly, especially the farmers, you wonder as to their allegiances. A great nephew may have become the black sheep of some obscure leftist tendency. They will probably assure the parents that their vote is secure, but opt instead for something more conservative. Some of these farmers were part of the old co-operative, the one of the Generalisimo's era; they did alright by Franco.

The contrast is the "joven" clan, the youth element. Not so much the middle-of-the-road bank workers or hotel employees, but the dreadlocked, art and artisan, fervently Catalan-speaking, wish-they-could-have-been-part-of-the-protests brigade. Muro, like other pueblos, has this clan, graphic or web designers all, some who are teachers and others who are ... well, they just are. There is little doubt where they stand. Or for whom they might vote.

At the polling station. The old Guardia building. Alerts have been put out that there will be heightened security. The police hang around, the local police that is. They are a strangely potent symbol of the town's elections, having fallen out with the mayor and having threatened to denounce him. Their numbers are not great, but you suspect they will have voted for anyone other than Martí Fornes.

The more ancient "murers" tackle the process of voting as they do an encounter in a chemists. The explanation needs to be given several times, and there are still further questions, while the whole encounter is prolonged by dutiful enquiries as to the health and welfare of the polling station personnel's family, extended family, extended family's friends ... .

Bars and restaurants become temporary HQs for the political parties. This is a phenomenon you can witness on other occasions. I did so during the cuttlefish fair in Puerto Alcúdia. One restaurant was the mayor's, his supporters, his family's and his extended family's, his extended family's friends and their friends - and relatives.

The mayor's party, the Convergència Democràtica Murera, might be thought to be reeling from the announcement, two days before the election, that the order to protect birds had been officially adopted. It extends the area of protection from the Albufera nature park to parts of the Son Bosc finca. As such, it makes the golf course untenable for a party which might as easily be called the Golf Union of Grupotel.

But the local election is not solely about a golf course. It's not really about anything much, other than the day itself. In the town, in the finery. Like all events in Mallorca, it is a social occasion. The result? Well, it does matter, but there are more important things to worry about, such as getting a table for the pork and cabbage.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Son Bosc bird protection order

A regional government order that extends an area of special protection for birds from the Albufera nature park into parts of the neighbouring Son Bosc finca in Muro has come into effect. This order means that these parts of the finca cannot be used for the planned golf course.

MALLORCA TODAY - Bellevue new lease terms

A company formed by ex-directors of Hotetur has put forward a proposal to lease Alcúdia's Bellevue complex for a period of seven years at an annual cost of 5.5 million euros. The company, called Blue Sea, has to wait for the offer to be cleared by the administrators, but if it is accepted it would replace Al Andalus, the company which has been renting the hotel complex from the owners Posibilitum.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 May 2011

A very similar start to yesterday. Sunny but also quite a bit of cloud. The high locally at 09.30 is 19.4 C in the coastal towns.

At times a bit sticky but with a breeze, it has been a generally sunny day, the highs again by the coast at 21.4 C.

Reflections Of The Way Life Used To Be

Back in the days when The Supremes were singing about reflections, things were very different politically in Spain. They didn't have to worry much about mass demonstrations and they didn't have to worry much about such demonstrations intruding into days of reflection before elections, as there were neither reflections nor elections.

Today is the day of reflection. What it means is that all political campaigning and indeed comment about the elections should cease prior to tomorrow's elections. As a result, I shall not be talking about the elections. Indeed, I hadn't intended talking about the day of reflection until the demonstrations across Spain began to gather momentum and it occurred to me that this day of reflection is archaic.

Let me make it clear. I think a day of reflection, one in which there is an abstinence from campaigning and comment is a very good idea. The trouble is that its practicality has been lost. While the mainstream press will observe the day and while the political parties will be silent, there will be a whole other world chattering away like fury: the Twitter and Blogospheres.

The social networks have been at least partially instrumental in garnering support for the protests that are and have been taking place across Spain. Together with what will continue to be said today on the internet, the power of the social networks is proving to another government, this time Spain's, that when people feel strongly enough about something, the rules can be ripped up and chucked away.

For it is the rule about the day of reflection, sound in principle but outmoded in reality, that is creating a rod for the government's back. As the protests have a political dimension, they have to cease as they break the rule. But try breaking the protests and the day of reflection will cause there to be a far greater political dimension. The government is in an intolerable situation, but it is one that shows how impotent or potentially reactionary governments can actually be, despite the best of intentions as encapsulated in the day of reflection.

The protests, camps in squares around the country, including Palma, and led by a movement called 15-M, have drawn comparison with events in other countries, most obviously Egypt, but such comparisons are pretty fanciful. Nevertheless, they are being taken seriously enough for President Zapatero to have acknowledged that there are reasons for discontent.

Though it is the national government that is taking the brunt of the protests in that it has to decide how to respond, as do the police, the protests are clearly directed at the whole political system. These are not protests against unemployment, cuts in wages or such; they are against the system and against corruption. "The New York Times" has, as an example, drawn comparisons between Silvio Berlusconi and the head of the Valencia regional government, Francisco Camps, who is likely to be re-elected but still faces the probability of being called to account in a court of law.

In the Palma protest, one of the demands made has been that the protesters want governments which deliver obedience: the governments' own. The disobedience of the protesters, crossing into the day of reflection, will unravel in terms of what reaction there is from these different governments and police; the regional electoral commission in the Balearics has backed the central one in declaring protests today illegal.

And that's all I'm going to say. Has this article broken the day of reflection rule? I don't know. But you can't have protests going on without there being comment. If one thing is to come of the protests, it may well be that it is decided that the day of reflection is more trouble than it's worth. Which would be a shame, but these are modern times, and not those of the past.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Friday, May 20, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 May 2011

Starting off with some sun but a fair amount of cloud around as well. The best temperature locally at 09.00 is 18.9 C in Puerto Pollensa.

The weekend's forecast is for an improvement and no prospect of rain.

And, turned out nice, and looking even nicer for the weekend. Top temperature in the area today was 21.6 C in Alcúdia/Playa de Muro.

MALLORCA TODAY - Magalluf bar owners fight

A fight between owners and staff at bars on the Punta Ballena "strip" in Magalluf occurred in the early hours of yesterday morning. One owner had to be attended to at Son Espases hospital and received stitches for a wound to the face. The fight was all to do with one particular bar touting for business by other bars; it was the old "tiquetero" issue, in other words.

Market Forces: Inca and other markets

An item of news that probably slipped under your radar a few weeks ago was the seemingly non-earthshattering report that leading tour operators, e.g. TUI, were planning to put Inca market back on their excursions' itineraries.

The market, for all that it boasts being one of the island's most important, if not the most important, and for all that its best-known event is November's "Dijous Bo", has not been as good as the "bo" in "Dijous" might have us believe. Or indeed, have the tour operators believe.

Excursions to the market were dropped last year; some operators had done so before this. The reason was that the market, though huge, had lost much of its attraction. There was in fact too much of it, and much of this too much wasn't much good.

Inca town hall, recognising full well that coach loads of tourists not turning up every week means less money in everyone's pot, set about remedying the situation, and agreement with the tour operators was forged in early April. More local craft stuff, a bit of the old ball de bot traditional dancing and, perhaps most importantly, getting rid of some of the stallholders. A total of 49 have been told they will not be pitching up at their pitches any longer, and some of them have come onto others' radars - those of the tax man and social security.

Seeking to maintain the standards of the market was fair enough. Complaints about its overall quality and ambience increased last year. The town hall was forced to act. But it had taken the tour operators to really shake up the market's supervisors.

This goes to prove what should be a principle accepted by many involved in the island's tourism business: that the tour operators can make or break an attraction, a hotel, or even a market.

Those in the front line of encounters with the tour operators do of course know this well enough. Recently, I happened to be at some apartments when the new owner was showing Thomas Cook's representative around. Once Mr T.C. had gone, the owner, beaming and rubbing his fingers, said that they would be signing a contract for a third of the apartments.

Back at Inca market, the tour operators had a legitimate point about its standards. But the fact that they acted and thus threatened the enduring success of the market demonstrated that even Mallorca's traditions can be influenced by companies from Germany or wherever. You do begin to wonder if there isn't more of this influence around. The fiestas, for example.

Inca market is not, though, an isolated case. Friends of mine who had not been to Sineu's market for many years went a couple of weeks ago. This market is one which also enjoys the reputation of "traditional" and of being one of the markets that should be on every good market-goer's schedule. They were disappointed. It wasn't as it once was. It could be just like any other market.

The importance of the markets, not just for tourism but also as aspects of the fabric of local communities, has been highlighted by the temporary relocation of the market in Puerto Pollensa. Though not a traditional market in the same way as Inca or Sineu or even Pollensa town, the Wednesday market in the church square is popular.

While the square was being dug up, the market was shifted to a car park. For reasons known only to themselves, the town hall suggested that this move might become permanent. A survey of stallholders was meant to have taken place, but they probably gave up after the first few replies.

Besides the fact that the new site meant an obvious loss of car-parking spaces in a town not blessed with easy parking, the notion of it becoming the permanent site was absurd. Puerto Pollensa's market may not be traditional, but it is also not a car-boot sale.

The markets have become more ragtag affairs, and I think we all know why. It is important that they don't end up becoming like car-boot sales or flea markets for the lookies clan to ply their trade. The tour operators' influence may be vast, but where the markets are concerned, and for Inca market in particular, the influence is not unwelcome.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Puerto Pollensa sexual offence suspected

The director of what is described as an "investment agency" (which probably means property) has been arrested and detained on suspicion of a sexual offence committed against a female employee at the offices of the agency. The director is said to be American, and the employee is described as being a foreigner.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 May 2011

As anticipated, it's a cloudy day with occasional sun but also the definite threat of rain. Local highs at 11.00, just a bit over 19 degrees.

The rain held off, but it remained cloudy and not especially warm. Highs in Alcúdia and Puerto Pollensa at 19.9 C.

Not Just A Single Issue: Local elections

(My apologies if the following is seemingly only directed at a Mallorcan audience.)

Will you be voting? If yes, it's probably because you are interested and know what and for whom you will be voting. But you might also vote according to how it was and is in Britain. Traditionally Conservative, and you go PP; traditionally Labour, and you opt for PSOE. As for the other parties, well what are they about anyway?

Much has been made in the lead-up to the elections, except by the Spanish media of course, about issues as they affect the foreign community (and for our purposes, this means Brits) and the need for this community to vote as a way of registering an interest that would demand a vote in national elections.

I simply don't get it. Yes, I understand full well the arguments about you pays your taxes, you should have your vote, and I understand the ruling (by Britain) which ultimately excludes British nationals in Mallorca from voting in British elections. But a national election is, and should be, for citizens of a specific country. It is an expression of nationhood and is for its citizens, not for others; the Single Market agreement in 1992 made it clear enough where the lines were drawn in respect of voting rights.

Then you have these so-called issues. The residence certificate, in other words. Again, I don't get it. Yes, it's an inconvenience, but there is more than a smattering of double standards about the demand for getting the card back. The brouhaha regarding the British ID card, whipped up not by the left but by the libertarian right, and especially David Davis, was perfectly legitimate in the objections raised. The British card did not have anything like overwhelming public support, so why should it be different here?

As an issue, for the local elections, it is a non-issue. For any party, i.e. the PP, to make it one by suggesting they will somehow bring pressure to bear for a change is cynical opportunism; the PP are playing to a British audience they suspect, rightly probably, will support them anyway.

On both these matters, national voting and the residence card, turn it around. Uppity Spaniards in Britain demanding the vote in a British national election and suggesting that they will vote locally for a party which might grant them the wish for an ID card. How would you react? The card issue, in the great scheme of things here in Mallorca, is an irrelevance. A single issue for a minority; the age-old tyranny of democracy.

Setting aside these matters, though, should you be interested enough to vote? That's up to you. There are those who are interested, and I am one of them, but my interest is more in a role as an observer of the social phenomenon of Mallorca's politics, of its more than occasional battiness, of the enduring strength of networks, tribalism and communities in influencing voter support. It is, if you like, the culture that interests, as much as if not more than the issues and whether so-or-so politician has been caught with his fingers in the till.

Will I vote? Probably. If, that is, I can be bothered to drive the ten kilometres and back to Muro town in order to do so. Who will I vote for? I really don't know. In the town, I could vote for the current mayor and for maintaining Grupotel's hold on the town hall, or maybe I'll vote for Entesa, purely because they've hung a poster up on the lamppost outside.

It is what happens in Palma and in the Consulat de Mar, though, that will hold the greatest interest. The PP and José Bauzá should walk the regional election. If they don't, something very odd will have happened; perhaps because the British had seen through their promises.

Bauzá may prove to be any good as president, but it is not the economy, employment, tourism, transport, health and all the rest that concern me about Bauzá; it is the social and cultural aspect. He has already proven himself capable of being divisive within his own party, and it is the wider divisions that he might cause which worry me.

Mallorcans aren't a naturally radical people. They are conservative. There is a reassurance in this, in that it would prevail over what could be unleashed, namely a rejection of Bauzá's anti-Catalanism in favour of a growth in radicalism and even extremism. But there again, it might not.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 May 2011

Just as yesterday. A sunny morning with some light cloud around. The forecast for tomorrow and Friday suggests a medium risk of rain. The local high at 08.30 is 17.9 C in Puerto Pollensa.

A warmish day and a bit muggy, which might be right, as storms could be on their way. The local maximum today has been inland in Pollensa at 21.7 C.

Fight 'Em On The Beaches

Puerto Pollensa is not going down without a fight. You wouldn't expect anything else. The bell is due to sound on the end of the four-year bout and, punch-drunk, they're still at it.

If it's May, it is time for the quadrennial elections and also for the annual kerfuffle surrounding Puerto Pollensa's beaches. All you need to know by way of background to this is that each year the town hall manages not to get the contract sorted out for the umbrellas and sunbeds in time for the season. True to form, it has happened again this year.

In an act of altruism, the neighbourhood association in the port has taken on the task. But not everyone has been happy, including the company that is meant to be getting the contract, while it would not be a matter of town hall affairs in the port were Pepe Garcia and the Alternativa not to have its say.

Garcia, who is standing for mayor, suggested that there might be some financial shenanigans. From a report I read, it seemed as though he was levelling this charge at the neighbourhood association, a most unwise thing to do given that he would hope its members might support him.

The association seemed to read it as I had and said it would consider whether it had been defamed. Garcia insisted that he hadn't meant the association but the town hall, but he may suffer a loss of votes because of the misunderstanding. Which goes to prove that beaches, and their management, are not something to be trifled with. Nor are their local politics and local turf wars.

Other towns have their issues with the management of beaches. I shall not identify the town or the beach, but the following example is indicative of the potentially lucrative business of being awarded with the concessions for beach management and of how the "system" can operate.

One particular lot on the beach in question had, the relevant town hall's inspectorate was to discover midway through the summer, too many sunbeds and umbrellas. The company with the concession was duly fined. Was it unhappy? Not really; too many sunbeds and a consequent fine were part of the "system".

When the tenders were put out for the lots on the beach, excessive bids were lodged as a means of securing the concession. The town hall was more than happy with this; of course it was. The winning bidder then went ahead and put out more sunbeds than it should have. More revenue for the town hall coffers; this time through a fine. The concessionaire was still not unhappy. Yes, it had paid more than it should have done and yes, it was fined, but it was still making money. More in fact than it should have been making. One imagines the fines and the excessive bid were taken into account in the business plan.

It wasn't as though the town hall ordered the removal of the offending sunbeds. No, they were allowed to stay. And why do you think that was?

This "game" demonstrates how the process of beach management can and does operate. In this particular instance, however, there was a twist to the story, because local people, fed up with the sheer volume of sunbeds, took action. It should be remembered that beaches are public spaces. They belong to the Spanish state, and ordinary members of the public are entitled to use them without the space being over-invaded by money-making ventures.

What then happened was that the town hall itself faced a fine for allowing the situation to come to pass. Our old friends the Costas authority may usually trample across dunes in heavy boots looking for illegal buildings, but it does also have the final say-so when it comes to what goes on on the beaches.

As a result, the concessionaire was presented with a situation that hadn't been bargained for; the government's fine to the town hall being passed on. But even more was to come. A concessionaire, and there was more than one, suffered from having its sunbeds slashed. Over 500 were wrecked, and the cost of repair was put at 40 grand.

Which all goes to show that management of the beaches and sunbeds is far from being as gentile a past-time as building sandcastles. What's been happening in Puerto Pollensa is positively serene compared with what can happen elsewhere. Fights on beaches, and kicking sand in faces.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Ambulance workers' strike threat escalates

Having said that there will be an overtime ban on four days, the first being tomorrow (18 May), the ambulance drivers and medics are now planning on starting an indefinite overtime ban as from 30 May.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 May 2011

Another bright start to the day, with only high and light cloud. At 08.00, the best temperature is that of Puerto Pollensa at 18.8 C.

A fine day it has been. Warm sun but the chill breeze right by the sea is normal for the time of year. The highs in the area have been 21.9 C in Alcúdia/Playa de Muro and Pollensa town and 22.2 C in Puerto Pollensa.

A Different World: Mallorca's north-south divide

North, south, east or west. Wherever you may live in Mallorca, you will have a view as to where the place you live fits within the general scheme of things. My apologies, by the way, if you live in the middle, but for the purposes of the following, I'm afraid I will need to exclude you. But don't feel put down, because you are not alone. And if you don't live in Mallorca, you will still appreciate that location on the four main points of the compass can have meaning.

You may live in London, or you once used to; London and the south that have been damned for always being the focus of attention. It's the media that's to blame. Usually. But it has always been thus. Greater density of population, the capital city and the financial centre. And for England, read also Mallorca and Palma.

One needs to define what is meant by the south of Mallorca. In purely geographical terms, "the south" isn't strictly accurate. The dominance of what is referred to as the Palma-Calvia axis lies to the south-west, but let's ignore such pedantry.

The dominance is all but total. Everything revolves around the south and Palma in particular. You can judge for yourselves how the hierarchy works beneath Palma. It probably goes, in descending order, something like: Calvia, Manacor, Inca (and see, if you are in the centre, you aren't neglected), Llucmajor, Marratxi, and then it's anyone's guess. If you are unfortunate enough to live right out on the east coast, you will know that, for all intents and purposes, you don't exist.

The hierarchy reflects the degree of attention afforded different parts of Mallorca. It really shouldn't come as much of a surprise that certain places receive less, far less or even no attention. If no one much lives in these places, if nothing much happens, then what can you expect?

Nevertheless, there are genuine antagonisms, and none more so than the north-south divide. Well, the antagonism is felt by those in the north; I would very much doubt that it is reciprocated. And it is an antagonism that crosses nationalities. The natives are as disaffected by Palma-centricity, far more so in fact, as are incomers from other countries.

I'll give an example that is not unrepresentative. The lady in my local newsagents in Playa de Muro lives in Alcúdia. Why, she wanted to know, was there no coverage of the Ironman triathlon in Alcúdia at the weekend. It was an international event which attracted some two thousand athletes. The newspapers, the television; they didn't cover it. Had it taken place in Palma, it would have been a different story. I wasn't inclined to disagree with her.

The triathlon may not, compared with other international sporting events, register that highly, but for Alcúdia, and for Mallorca, it was a pretty important event. To be fair, it wasn't totally ignored. There was mention in sports pages, which is where you might expect it to be mentioned, but the point the lady in the newsagents was making was that there would have been considerably more hullabaloo if Palma (or Calvia) had staged the event.

So why the apparent neglect? The charitable defence of the media is that it is all a resourcing issue, and let's not forget that there are elections looming, with all the coverage they require. Less charitably, one can perceive this as being indicative of a Palma-centric arrogance, aloofness and disinterest in anything outside Palma's boundaries or those of its westerly neighbour.

It isn't only in media circles that the divide exists. It is there in politics as well. For all the publicity given to corruption scandals, they don't have much influence on towns well away from the dominant south. Miguel Llompart, Alcúdia's mayor and likely to still be its mayor after 22 May despite his association with the discredited Unió Mallorquina, once told me that the scandals were all a Palma thing. They were largely irrelevant to what happened within the town.

And you can understand this, because, and it is the same anywhere, people identify most closely with their own communities. Alcúdia, and you can name any number of places in Mallorca, could be in another world compared with Palma. And as far as Palma is concerned, it is in another world.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Monday, May 16, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Fine for Guardia officer who attacked a Catalan speaker

The case of a Guardia Civil officer who attacked a Catalan speaker by the name of Iván Cortes at Palma airport in 2009 has finally been heard and judged. The officer has been fined 1200 euros for the attack on Cortes which occurred after he spoke in Catalan and not Castilian to the officer.

MALLORCA TODAY - Ambulance drivers on overtime ban

Ambulance drivers and medics in Mallorca are set to go on partial strike on 18 and 25 May and on 1 and 8 June, following a failure to arrive at an agreement on salaries. They will work a normal eight-hour day but not the four hours extra which constitute their shifts.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 May 2011

A resumption of normal service this morning. Clear, sunny skies and a fine day in prospect. Temperatures, at 09.00, from 15.8 C in Alcúdia/Playa de Muro to 18.7 C in Puerto Pollensa.

It in fact soon clouded over this morning but then cleared up, leaving a pleasant afternoon with the high temperatures just a touch over 20 degrees everywhere.

Sundowners: Who runs tourism?

As the sun goes down over the Antich administration, so various interested parties are toasting its lowering into the political horizon with gin and tonics raised at the yard-arm and celebrating the coming reveille of what we must expect will be dubbed a new dawn of Mallorcan politics. It's always a new dawn, as it is also always the end of an era.

Of these interested parties, one, the Mallorcan hoteliers' federation, has been pushing itself to the front of the queue to get a good look at the beauty parade of the contestants for the tourism ministry in Bauzá's Partido Popular government. Various announcements emanating from the federation have had a political edge and haven't always been veiled, as with the thumbs-down it has given to the idea of Carlos Delgado becoming minister.

The federation's most recent declaration is not quite so manipulative, but it is a warning to the new occupant of the ministry to ensure that it gets its priorities right.

When the current government gasps its final breath, a last post will be sounded for the dead body of the tourism ministry. Rather than it being buried with a stone that says "here lies the Balearics tourism ministry 2007-2011, may its sins be forgiven", it will be taken to a quiet spot in the Tramuntana where no tourists can be bothered to go and dumped in an unmarked grave.

The ministry's legacy will largely be one of it having produced the four riders of the tourism apocalypse - Buils, Nadal, Ferrer and Barceló - but it will also be remembered, if not mourned, for its inability to handle money, either legally or sensibly. And it is this that the federation is warning about.

The target for the federation is an online tourism logistics system that was first spoken about over a year ago and which is up for tender. The federation believes that it's a waste of money, especially when money is so tight and certain spends, such as that for promotion to the Spanish domestic market, have been cut. The tender process itself is costing up to a million euros.

The federation is probably right to be questioning spend on IT projects at a time of shortage, but is there something more to all this?

An information system that is supposed to increase efficiency and hopefully also effectiveness within the chain of tourism business should, you would think, be something that the federation would welcome. However, if you go back to when the concept was first announced, there was the cracking noise of various noses being put out of joint, one of them being the federation's. It wasn't consulted.

If it is the case that the federation wasn't involved, and appears to still not be involved, it is, at best, an example of lack of judgement by the ministry. You don't create this sort of system without stakeholders, the users, being intimately party to its development.

You have to ask, therefore, why it wasn't in the loop. Was it a case of the ministry flexing its muscles and showing who's boss when it comes to tourism?

It is the suspicion that this may well be the reason which makes you wonder whether an inability to work with key sectors of and professional bodies within the islands' tourism industry could be added to the list of sins perpetrated by the ministry over the past four years.

But, you can look at this a very different way. Yes, it may have been high-handedness on behalf of the ministry, but perhaps it wanted, needed, the opportunity to exert its authority. The federation, and it is not alone among bodies within the tourism industry in having its own agenda, can appear as being one which wants to call the shots.

The accusation by the federation that the ministry is mis-spending money could well be the PR spin to disguise the real intention, which is to send out a message to the incoming PP and its tourism minister that the federation expects to have its voice heard. It should have; of course it should. But lurking in all this is an issue as to whose voice is loudest and who it is who actually runs tourism.

The federation will probably have its wishes granted where Delgado is concerned, and if it does it will have proved it can exert its own muscle. And how much more might it wish to if the new minister is just another pale horse of tourism pestilence whose reins, like strings, might be easily pulled?

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Almeria 3 : 1 Real Mallorca

Even by Mallorca's rotten standards away from home, the first half away at bottom club and already relegated Almeria was a shocker, Mallorca going three down after half an hour and being completely outplayed. Mallorca came back into it after Piatti's goal and Webó pegged one back three minutes before the break. The second half was better by Mallorca; efforts on goal, though, came to nothing. Results would have to all go the wrong way for Mallorca, who play Atletico Madrid in the final game of the season next weekend, but extraordinarily, and despite having 44 points, Mallorca could still be relegated. Highly unlikely though.

Esteban; Macedo (sub. José Ortiz, 46 min.), Silva, Garcia, Pellerano, Luna; Juanma Ortiz, Juanito, Corona, Piatti (yellow, 62 min.; sub. Crusat, 68 min.); Uche (sub. Ulloa, 89 min.)
Goals: Uche, 5 min.; Juanma Ortiz, 14 min.; Piatti, 31 min.

Real Mallorca:
Aouate; Cendrós (sub. Pina, 74 min.), Nunes (yellow, Nunes, 90 min.), Ramis, Ayoze; Joao Victor, Martí (sub. Crespi, 85 min.); Nsue, Victor, Pereira; Webó (sub. Aki, 74 min.)
Goal: Webó, 42 min.

MALLORCA TODAY - Angry reaction in Pollensa beach affair

The neighbourhood association in Puerto Pollensa, which has been putting up sun beds and parasols on the resort's beaches despite not having been contracted to do so, has reacted angrily to accusations from Pepe Garcia of the Alternativa which suggest they might be being paid for this. The association is considering taking action for defamation.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 May 2011

What's this? Rain. Not much, but rain nevertheless. Quite blustery, with a north-easterly going. Variances in local temperatures, as of 08.30: Alcúdia/Playa de Muro, 15.9 C; Pollensa, 14.3 C; Puerto Pollensa, 16.6 C.

The rain went away, and the sun was out for much of the time, but not a particularly warm day; nowhere was the 20 degrees barrier broken, the day's high being 19.4 C in Alcúdia. Things are due to improve tomorrow, but the pattern seems changeable, with a chance of rain later in the week.

For Whose Benefit?: All-inclusives

"The benefit it brought its surrounding area."

If you make a statement such as this, without qualifying it, you can bet your life that someone - me - will hunt for some qualification.

The quote is from a short piece on Saturday in "The Bulletin" about TUI conducting a pilot study of the effects of all-inclusive hotels.

The study was undertaken in Turkey. At the Holiday Village in Sarigerme. The news item gave no detail, so let me now do so.

The benefit that TUI claims relates to what the hotel complex spends within Turkey itself. 55% of its total outgoings. This is not, though, the complete story. The study found that only 11% of tourist spending benefited the regional economy, a mere fifth of which found its way into the pockets of businesses in the village of Sarigerme (not the village's actual name, but let's not worry about this) and the surrounding area. How much does this equate to? One million euros. The study would appear to have been for the 2009 season.

According to First Choice's website, the Holiday Village has 500 rooms, sleeping up to four people. Work it out for yourselves. Over a six-to-seven month period, one million euros will be spread pretty thinly; though Sarigerme is not a huge resort, it is a resort nevertheless.

The gloss in the report about the study is the so-called benefit of spending within the country. But so what? Hotels, in all sorts of places, source stuff locally, including Mallorca and including Mallorca's all-inclusives. There's nothing particularly remarkable about this. And even when stuff is sourced locally, as with the local booze that is commonly served in all-inclusives, and would appear to be at the Holiday Village, it isn't always to the punter's delight.

TUI know full well that all-inclusives have an impact. With the release of the information about this pilot study, the company is seeking to change the bad impression of all-inclusives. "Little research has been carried out" into the effects of all-inclusives, say TUI, implying that an absence of research means that the harm caused by all-inclusives has not been proven.

It is a diversion on the part of TUI to highlight matters of sourcing and employment, as it finds it hard to make a good case for all-inclusive impact on other elements of the local business scene. It is a diversion that shields behind its much-publicised and self-aggrandising sustainable tourism, of which purchasing local produce and giving people a job are two aspects.

I don't question TUI's sincerity, but they aren't being quite straight. It seems no coincidence that, a month after First Choice made the announcement that it would only offer all-inclusive packages as from next year, TUI should now wish to show how such holidays can be of benefit.

The latest announcement echoes one of the laughable bits of spin that First Choice came out with - that of excursions which will enable its guests to get a taste for their destinations and to spend some money. At the Holiday Village, the guests will be able to enjoy a "walking tour" to the local village. For God's sake.

Don't be fooled by any of this. The pilot study may be "research", it might even be good and rigorous research, but it is being done in the name of public relations. TUI have a point in that the impact of all-inclusives has not been well-researched, but the body of knowledge is growing. The company may like to know that the 11% of tourist spending is below that of 20% found by research in Hawaii. It may also like to know that Mallorcan research has revealed spend by all-inclusive guests to not just be the lowest among all categories of tourist but also over a third less than the next lowest-spending group.

But there is research and there is research, and it depends on the characteristics of different markets. Mallorca is not the same as Turkey because it is a far more mature tourism destination. The impact of all-inclusives might well be greater in more mature markets; this should be a strand of research in its own right. TUI say that more studies will be done. If so, then let them come to Alcúdia or Magalluf. Better still, give me the research spec, and I'll do it for them.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.