Monday, October 31, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Balearics budget for 2012 set at 3,675 million euros

The Balearic Government has announced that its budget for 2012 will rise by 8.6% to 3,675 million euros. A fifth of this will be set aside to pay debts to banks, interest repayments having doubled in the last two years.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 31 October 2011

A calm morning, mostly clear but some banks of cloud about, temperatures ranging from 16 to 19 at 08:00, the outlook for today is generally fine and continuing so until Thursday and into the weekend when the greater threat of rain returns.

Afternoon update: A decent enough day. Some warm sunshine in the afternoon and a high just below 22 degrees.

A Certain Cachet? Puerto Alcúdia

Puerto Alcúdia has lost some of its cachet. Discuss.

The loss of cachet suggestion is not mine. It is that of the president of the recently formed Alcúdia Bay restaurant association. Before we delve too far into the suggestion, we do need to ask ourselves what is meant by cachet. Prestige is a reasonable alternative. Well, the Oxford English Dictionary (Concise version) says so, and I'm not about to disagree.

If Puerto Alcúdia has lost cachet, then when did it ever actually have it? And as much as the definition of cachet can be rather loose, so also can be a definition of Puerto Alcúdia. It is not one place.

Cachet that attaches itself historically to Puerto Alcúdia might be said to date back to the 1930s, to the original Golf hotel (and golf course) and to the seaplanes that dropped French tourists into the bay. It was shortlived, thanks to a somewhat unpleasant member of the military who was wedded to notions of arch-Spanishness and arch-Catholicism.

Of tourism-age cachet, there has been relatively little. Puerto Alcúdia is and has long been a resort for the mass, and it created for itself the environment in which this mass could enjoy the prestige that the resort has always enjoyed: a fabulous beach most obviously.

Cachet might also, in tourism terms, imply chic. But has Puerto Alcúdia ever been chic? Not really. Its near neighbour, Puerto Pollensa, might well claim this; at least in its past, along with a somewhat Bohemian reputation. It was Puerto Pollensa that acquired the cachet of celebrity visitor and party-goer (in the seventies and into the eighties) that Puerto Alcúdia didn't.

Puerto Alcúdia's cachet applies not to its purpose-built, anti-cachet tourism centre, some three kilometres out of the port area, but to the port area itself and also to the fact that, as a whole, it is a leading tourism resort. The prestige has been earned over decades, not because the resort is phenomenally attractive, but because it is highly functional; it serves a purpose, and does this rather well.

However, attractiveness and a fellow-travelling concept of ambience can distort this prestige/cachet estimation. And it's one of cachet found rather than cachet lost: there is many a current-day visitor who would argue that Puerto Alcúdia's port area is greatly more attractive/vibrant than its haughty neighbour, i.e. Puerto Pollensa. Perhaps so, but the argument is irrelevant. Difference is what counts, and point-scoring for relative chicness, cachet, prestige is completely pointless.

The Alcúdia Bay restaurant association does, though, wish to win back this cachet, whatever it might once have been. It wishes to make more dynamic Puerto Alcúdia's frontline and to bring quality tourism. It wishes this without the slightest hint as to what it means by more dynamic, without the slightest embarrassment that it might actually be offending tourists who are, by implication, not "quality" and by alluding to a past that is all but illusory.

To be fair, the association might be said to be responding to the criticisms that have emanated from the hotels, and not just in Puerto Alcúdia, which have accused the "complementary offer" of restaurants etc. of doing nothing to promote tourism and of leaving it to others to do so.

To this end, what has the association come up with? A guide. It appeared late into the season this year and it was, as is all too often the case with such guides, an exercise in amorphous repetition in that restaurants, side-by-side, proclaim the same "typical Mallorcan cuisine" or "speciality in meat" that leave the punter none the wiser and in no way incentivised by any sense of differentiation, and an exercise also in self-regarding delusion as to the importance of gastronomy to the tourism punter who perceives restaurants not as the be all and end all but as a necessary sub-text to the tourism experience.

The association will be establishing a "junta", a board which will drive its cachet-creating initiatives. The heart sinks. Another talking-shop of vested interests, ultimately inward-looking, believing that gastronomy is the way to the tourism stomach, when it should be part of a greater whole that promotes the resort. As should be the case with all resorts.

The association is right in one regard: that promotion should be local, local to resorts. Too much has been generic, for Mallorca, when resorts do mean different things - as between Puerto Alcúdia and Puerto Pollensa. But if it were serious about greater dynamism, it would not be ghettoising itself into a gastronomic corner, but engaging with, and promoting with, all other sectors of the local tourism economy.

Any comments to please.

Index for October 2011

ABTA Convention, Palma - 5 October 2011, 6 October 2011, 7 October 2011
Adults-only hotels - 10 October 2011
Beach exploitation by hotels and Costas Authority - 17 October 2011
Bingo in hotels - 16 October 2011
Bishop of Mallorca and gay marriage - 29 October 2011
Britishness and integration - 8 October 2011
Camí de Ternelles walk - 22 October 2011
Catalonian and Balearic presidents meet - 28 October 2011
Foreign and local trips by Balearics politicians - 15 October 2011
Hotels in Mallorca, the big four - 11 October 2011
Industrial tourism - 27 October 2011
Land use and luxury developments - 21 October 2011
Magalluf redevelopment: Meliá Hotels International - 1 October 2011, 2 October 2011
Pirates-themed hotel in Santa Ponsa - 9 October 2011
Pollensa auditorium - 13 October 2011
Posters, tourism - 26 October 2011
Poverty in the Balearics - 25 October 2011
Publicity award, Barceló hotels and - 30 October 2011
Puerto Alcúdia's cachet and restaurant association - 31 October 2011
Real Mallorca, more crisis at - 4 October 2011
Senior tourism - 24 October 2011
Subsidies and flights to Mallorca - 12 October 2011
Sun, temperature and winter tourism in Mallorca - 14 October 2011
Theme park between Campos and Llucmajor - 20 October 2011, 23 October 2011
TUI, Russian tourism and Alexei Mordashov - 3 October 2011
Voting rights, expatriates and national election - 19 October 2011
Welsh Rugby World Cup defeat - 18 October 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 30 October 2011

Occasional showers overnight and some at times strong gusts, the morning is a mix of cloud and sun with a high of 21 degrees. The risk of rain diminishes during the day and is less evident until Thursday, though it's likely to remain cloudy with sunny periods.

Afternoon update: Again not such a bad day, despite the general forecast. Becoming more as you tend to expect at this time of the year. Blustery now and then, cloudy now and then with the odd shower but also some warmish sun. Typical autumn Mallorca weather in other words. High today has been 21.7.

Most Efficacious In Every Case

You know that Christmas is on its way when the dicky bows and tiaras are dragged out of the wardrobe for annual awards ceremonies and the embarrassing thank-you speeches are written and even more embarrassingly delivered. And when Darren Clarke wins Sports Personality, there will be the inevitable, personal-tragedy backstory, delivered by Sue Barker in perfect, sombre-cum-celebratory tones. You don't need to watch, I can write the script for you now.

Spain has its own awards, among them the Prince of Asturias ones, handed out by Crown-Prince Felipe to worthies of the arts, sciences, sports and whatever. Leonard Cohen won the prize for literature this year; Haile Gebrselassie added the sports prize to his marathon and track titles.

Rather less grand are the prizes for "Eficacia en Comunicación Comercial", basically prizes for coming up with good adverts. At the "big night for efficacy" (not exactly a slogan that trips off the tongue), prize winners ranged from Coca-Cola and IKEA to the Archdiocese of Madrid and the town hall of A Coruña. There was not a whole load for Mallorca to celebrate, except for the bronze award in the "regional/local" category that went to Barceló Hotels & Resorts, beaten into third place by the publicity for A Coruña and its cleaning and waste services provider CESPA.

I don't know what it was that elevated the Galician city to such lofty heights in terms of advertising efficacy, but it doesn't matter anyway. Far more interesting is the fact that the award is a tad embarrassing. Workers from CESPA have recently gone to the town hall to denounce the company for a breach of employment conditions. Furthermore, back in July, five of the company's trucks had their tyres slashed. To this you can add the fact that the plant (operated by a different company) that treats waste collected by CESPA was in the midst of an indefinite strike at the time of the truck vandalism. Which all goes to show, I suppose, that efficacy of an advertising campaign is not the same as PR, and CESPA has been accused, in addition to its worker and truck problems, of providing a deficient service.

No such embarrassments existed for Barceló. Members of staff beamed for the cameras in front of the "big night" poster, happy in the knowledge that Barceló had become the first Mallorcan hotel chain to be honoured for its efficaciousness.

What secured the bronze gong for Barceló was a campaign called "SuperSummer Azul". Brainchild of a Mallorcan agency called The Atomic Idea, it borrowed from a TV comedy show "Verano Azul" that aired thirty years ago and featured one of the actors, then an eleven-year-old and now most definitely not. Miguel Ángel Valero has a touch of the Ray Winstones about him but with less Cockney.

Valero's an extraordinary bloke. He turned his back on acting and became a telecommunications engineer and academic, penning the snappily-entitled thesis "model of the provision of interactive services for telemedicine in the home via broadband networks". Most efficacious in every case. He invented telemedicinal compound.

What is significant about the award for Barceló is not so much that it won an award but that it is promoting itself. The campaign was for Spanish television and clearly wouldn't work elsewhere as no one would have a clue as to the association or who Valeró was. But it marks a distinct shift in emphasis in tourism marketing.

Hotels have previously left promotion to others - to tour operators and to travel agencies - but now they are going direct. Iberostar has been doing this, as with its advertising via the BBC website. At the recent ABTA convention, it was made clear that hotels were becoming more active and direct in their promotions.

This is important because the chains with the financial and global clout, such as Barceló and Iberostar, are seeking to make themselves recognisable brands, and what this means is that they wish to attract a loyal customer base that opts for a Barceló or an Iberostar hotel and therefore holiday, regardless of location. As the brand takes over in the minds of the consuming tourist, the specific destination, for example Mallorca, becomes secondary.

It is potentially a most efficacious strategy for the likes of Barceló, but not necessarily for Mallorca, as hotel chains that became global on the back of the island's home market seek customers for their resorts many miles away from Mallorca. So maybe the island should grab for itself the "most efficacious in every case" line. It does, after all, have many a medicinal compound: "drink a drink a drink...".

Any comments to please.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Barcelona 5 : 0 Real Mallorca

Not the game that might have been wished after having lost at home to the bottom club, Mallorca took themselves off to the Nou Camp. Not the start that might have been hoped either, Nsue handling in the area and Messi converting the penalty before a quarter of an hour was up and then adding a second eight minutes later. Eight minutes on, and guess who? Messi with his hat-trick goal, left-footed this time, just for a change. Second half, four minutes in and ... number four, the surprise being that it wasn't Messi but Cuenca. Barça basically relaxed then, but even so still managed a fifth in time added on, Dani Alves joining in the goal-scoring fun from full-back, he and Adriano having been main sources of supply to the Barça front line.

A not unexpected defeat for Mallorca. The question was always going to be how many goals they conceded. And here's a match stat for you: total passes by Mallorca, 388; total passes by Barcelona, 769. Enough said.

Valdés; Alves, Mascherano, Abidal (Piqué 46), Adriano; Thiago, Busquets (Puyol 58), Keita; Cuenca, Messi, Villa (Deulofeu 63)
Goals: Messi (13 - penalty; 21; 29); Cuenca (49); Alves (90+)
Yellow: Alves (73)

Aouate; Cendrós, Chico, Ramis (Martí Crespí 47), Bigas; Joao Victor, Martí (Victor 74), Tissone (Zuiverloon 47); Nsue, Alvaro, Castro
Yellows: Nsue (13); Bigas (90+)

MALLORCA TODAY - Muro town hall investigates missing thousands

Muro town hall has opened an investigation concerning the town's treasurer and 10,000 euros that audits for 2009 and 2010 show to be missing. The treasurer has been given a month to come up with explanations for the apparent error in book-keeping.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 29 October 2011

The rain has arrived, coming down intermittently and only quite lightly. The wind has picked up and the sea is turbulent. But it's still warm, up to 22 degrees at 09:30. The chance of rain for most of the day, though perhaps less so later in the day.

Afternoon update: Turned out not to be as bad as had been forecast. Cleared up enough in the afternoon to give some good sun, with a high of 23, though light showers have returned early evening.

The Bishop, The Politicians And The Gays

If you fancy being a bishop, then having a Christian name of Jesús is probably no great disadvantage. And so it is with the Bishop of Mallorca, Jesús Murgui. But neither his status as bishop nor his Christological appellation absolve him from criticism; he gets it in not inconsiderable amounts.

Jesús Murgui became bishop in 2004, succeeding Teodor Úbeda, who had been Mallorca's bishop for 30 years and who had cultivated a reputation for being progressive. It is a reputation that Monseñor Murgui appears not to share. He is said to be a confederate of the archbishops of Madrid and Barcelona and formerly of the late archbishop of Valencia (Agustín García-Gasco who died in May); these three archbishops have been described as the most reactionary and conservative in the Spanish church.

Monseñor Murgui has another type of reputation, a less than wonderful one among the local Spanish media and also among his own priests.

When the press claims that a typical reaction towards the bishop among Mallorcan clergy is one of sarcasm, this may well serve the press's agenda. Sections of the media are suspicious of him, to the point of being antagonistic. And partly, this is because he never speaks to them. In his seven years as bishop, he has given not one interview to the press. Where his reticence is excused, it is not on the grounds of shyness, but on a wish to avoid getting too political.

The problem for the bishop, though, is that, despite his reluctance to engage with the media, his views are known and they are political (in the current social climate of Spain), while he represents an institution, the Catholic Church, which is anything but indifferent to politics.

The First Estate of the Catholic Church is heavily politicised and seeks to influence the political process, and this is especially so in Spain, despite Roman Catholicism having been abandoned as the official religion and despite also a dramatic fall in church-going. It is this seeking of influence that makes the Fourth Estate of the press so ready to leap onto what emanates from the Church. And much has been emanating, much that will be espoused from pulpits this weekend.

The Spanish Episcopal Conference, its president is Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, the Archbishop of Madrid, has recently met. As is customary prior to a national election, it has had something to say for itself, as has Monseñor Murgui. There is little difference between the sentiments of the Conference and those of the bishop, which are being shared with the faithful, three weeks or so before the election.

It will come as no surprise that the bishop is not exactly supportive of issues such as abortion and gay marriage, but what has really stirred things up is that his letter, due to be read out in churches on the island, points to the "danger" of voting for politicians who support gay marriage and to "impositions" by the State. By politicians, he really means political parties, and by implication he lends his support firmly to one party - the Partido Popular.

The PP doesn't need the Church's support to win the election. Though as a party it is identified closely with the Church, it would probably prefer that the bishop, and the Episcopal Conference, in fact kept quiet. Social issues are unlikely to be prominent at hustings for an election that is all about Spain's economy, but they may not be overlooked by much of an electorate which, dissatisfied with PSOE's handling of the economy, has nevertheless broadly agreed with its social policies and with its attitude towards the Church.

For example, an investigation last year by the Mallorcan research organisation Gadeso into religious attitudes found that a majority between the ages of 16 and 59 supported gay marriage. A surprisingly high 35% of those over the age of 60 also supported it. The Church is out of step with social attitudes, just as it has become increasingly out of step with society as a whole and offers waning influence.

One suspects, however, that it sees the election of a PP government as a chance to grab back some influence, hence its pronouncements ahead of the election. For the PP though, it would be a huge mistake if it were to try and turn the clock back. There are unquestionably elements within the PP who would want to do just that, and there is always the suspicion that lurking somewhere in its background is the influence of the mysterious Opus Dei. But as a government it will have enough on its plate without seeking to send Spain back to a reactionary age.

Any comments to please.

Friday, October 28, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Theme park has not been officially presented

The plans for the theme park between Llucmajor and Campos have taken a curious twist. Despite the meeting at which the plans were presented to President Bauzá and tourism minister Delgado, the councillor for the Presidency, Antoni Gómez, said yesterday that the theme park proposal is neither being studied by the government and nor does it have it any official knowledge of the proposal. Meanwhile the location of the theme park seems to have shifted, with Marratxí now on the cards. This is a story, one suspects, that is going to have many a twist.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 28 October 2011

A damp morning but with bursts of sun through a lot of cloud. Mild, with highs at 17 degrees at 09:00. Rain has been only moderate but is likely to occur at any time today and tomorrow. Temperatures should hold up, a high of 22 on the cards for today.

Afternoon update: It has been pretty grey for much of the day but still reasonably warm - high of 21.6 - and very humid. Damp, but no rain as such. Storms may well spring up tomorrow.

When Joe Met Arthur

Can politicians ever just be friends, or will there always be more to the relationship? What was said between José and Artur when they took themselves off for a spot of lunch at Palma's Bar Bosch? Did they pledge undying fraternal togetherness, and if so, what language did they use?

"When Harry Met Sally" posited the question about being friends. At one stage, disagreement as to the question and differing philosophies, following what Sally had taken as a pass by Harry (at an American diner take on Bar Bosch), led to them not seeing each other for several years.

José and Artur, respectively President Bauzá of the Balearics and President Mas of Catalonia, met in Palma the other day. They are more Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau than Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. The odd couple. They share certain things in common, but they don't quite fit.

There is the Catalan thing. They both speak it, though José would prefer not to call it Catalan and would prefer that they spoke Castilian. There are the politics. Both the Partido Popular and Artur's Convergència i Unió occupy some similar political terrain, but the PP is further to the right than the CiU. And then there is the independence question. It is here that they have very different philosophies. Though the CiU manages to downplay its separationist tendency, Mas is all for Catalan self-government; Bauzá most definitely isn't.

What everyone of course wanted to know was what Mas made of Bauzá's attitude towards Catalan. Everyone wanted to know, which is why he sidestepped the issue, other than to say that Catalan is our "common language". Common to whom exactly?

Bauza's Catalan is one of dialect and his argument is one that is dialectic; he and Mas agree to disagree as, for Bauzá, Castilian is the common language and the dialects of Catalan are specific to the individual Balearic islands, but ne'er should enter the language of Catalanism and independence.

Mind you, they probably didn't discuss the matter in quite such terms, as they bit into an austerity-correct Catalan bread roll at Bar Bosch. Yet they were able to agree that the cultures of the Balearics and the language, or should this be languages, will be jointly promoted through the Ramon Llull Institute, and lent their support to the exhibition of the artist Joan Miró, a native of Catalonia but a resident of Mallorca, as it travels next year to London and Washington.

Far more important was that both Mas and Bauzá had the opportunity to slag off their respective predecessors. None of any of the current mess is our fault; here was some common ground, along with the dirty great holes full of debt and deficit in the ground beneath the Balearic and Catalonian presidents.

There was a chance for a touch of celebration. The Spanish Government and the European Union had just announced that they are going to pump God knows how many millions or billions into the so-called Mediterranean Corridor, a new high-speed rail link to connect Algeciras with France. Not that it is entirely clear quite how beneficial this will be for the Balearics, despite Bauzá having been firmly in favour. He says it will mean a reduction in the cost of imports. Possibly, though he might also want to have a word with maritime operators.

Odd couple they may be, but they are similar in having similar concerns. And odd it may be if a Catalonian government, albeit one that is of a conservative political bent, should offer a model to both Bauzá and his commandants at Partido Popular central office. Catalonia's health service, as broke as that of the Balearics, is undergoing what amounts to a partial privatisation, though Mas rejects a system of "co-payment", one that Bauzá's master, Mariano Rajoy, has been accused of planning to introduce (paying to see a national health doctor, for example).

Of course, one doesn't really know what Rajoy plans because he either doesn't have any plans or, more likely, he's keeping them firmly under wraps before unleashing them on an electorate that will have willingly voted for the slaughter. One doesn't really know the full extent of Bauzá's plans either. He had been asked (pressurised) by central office not to announce the Balearics budget until after the national elections, but he now will - on Monday.

When Joe met Arthur was a pleasant diversion before the pain is delivered. It was friendly enough. Maybe they will remain friends, but they will never agree on Catalanism, and when Rajoy wins, what might this mean for Catalonia? Friendly for now, but disagreement will not be far away.

Any comments to please.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Alcúdia schools' water not safe

Parents associations representing Alcúdia's two primary schools have said that the tap water supplied to the schools is not safe as it exceeds the maximum level of nitrates. The town hall says that the water is ok and has so dropped the delivery of bottled water, a provision that opposition groups want reintroduced.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 October 2011

Some sun but a fair amount of cloud lurking over the mountains, highs to 18 and 19 at 09:00, the forecast is for rain, especially this afternoon and evening and then continuing right through to Sunday with the additional prospect of storms.

Afternoon update: It has been a warm and humid afternoon, with a high of 24.7. The rain has arrived, but is only light.

MALLORCA TODAY - Pollensa will ban circus animals

Pollensa town hall is expected to become the seventh local authority in Mallorca to ban circuses with animals when councillors meet tomorrow.

Tourism On An Industrial Scale

"Zone industrielle." Despite my insistence that we make a detour, we never got to see any industrial zones. This was at the end of the 1970s. In the Dordogne. My wish to take in some industry was vetoed in favour of the hunting out of a chateau or several.

Winemaking is industry, but it's not the sort of industry that I had in mind back then. I wanted to see plant, machinery, things that went clank and made noise and mess. I was an industrial tourist, without ever having heard the term and without ever managing to become one; not then at any rate.

Industrial tourism is growing. There is a European congress devoted to it; the fourth gathering will be in Portugal next year. The European Tourism Day, celebrated at the end of September, concentrated on the promotion of industrial heritage and on how it can contribute to the diversification of tourism in general.

The growth in interest is to be welcomed. But unfortunately, much which goes under the term industrial tourism simply gets shunted into a museum. Sometimes workings are preserved or simulated, but for me the far greater interest lies in the industrial sites themselves, whether they be in ruin or maintained.

Spain does quite well when it comes to industrial tourism; Toledo, for example, is a major centre. The French do it rather better than the Spanish, and not just in a town's local "zone industrielle". Every year some 20 million people visit 1400 sites and museums of different sorts. Sadly, Mallorca doesn't have much to offer. Or rather, it has quite a bit, just that no one much knows about it and next to nothing is done to let them know about it.

Mallorca's forgotten industrial past sounds like a contradiction. The island's industry, pre-tourism, was predominantly agricultural, but by no means exclusively. There is a charity, the Foundation for the Recuperation and Study of Balearics Rail and Industrial Heritage, that attempts to promote the island's forgotten industry, which, at the start of the 1950s, involved some 35% of the population working in factories producing the likes of chemicals.

Most towns have evidence of old industry, if you look hard enough. Some of it has fallen into a poor state, such as the carpet factory in Pollensa. Closed in 1960 and posing a danger as it might collapse at any time, the town hall wants it declassified as an "asset of cultural interest", so that it can be demolished and then rebuilt. This would be a shame. Far better would be to perform restoration work and then promote it as a site of tourism interest. But of course no one's got any money to do anything with it.

Elsewhere on the island there are disused mineworks - in Alaró and Felanitx. Though mining dates back to the start of the nineteenth century, it was stopped until the Franco years, and the mineworks are evidence of the economic strategy of self-sufficiency (autarky) that for many years Franco sought for Spain.

But you don't necessarily have to go hunting for such sites. In Lloseta, for example, you can hardly miss the giant cement works. Not that this is disused. It benefits from using coal ash from the Es Murterar power station by the Albufera nature park, the power station that took over from the old one in Puerto Alcúdia and which has been all but abandoned for years.

The old power station, though, is arguably Mallorca's foremost industrial site. It has been named among the one hundred most important industrial heritage sites in Spain; it was symbolic of Mallorca's more recent industrial development in the 1950s, which is when it was constructed.

Plans to convert the power station into a museum have fallen foul of economic crisis. These plans, if they are ever indeed realised, are sympathetic to the architecture. The chimneys, for example, would be preserved. Though it can be argued that the power station forms something of a blot on the landscape on the sweep of Alcúdia Bay, its main structures should stay. Indeed, it should all stay.

If finance is going to be such an issue for its re-development, and it is going to be, then consideration might be given to a less ambitious scheme; one by which the site is made into one of tourism interest and is open to visitors. It could also include a museum, but on a smaller scale, one devoted to the history of the power station and to all the forgotten industrial heritage of Mallorca.

Industrial tourism is growing, Mallorca has little of it, so why not create some.

Any comments to please.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Real Mallorca 1 : 2 Sporting Gijón

A very different challenge for Mallorca tonight, following clashes with the likes of Valencia and Atlético Madrid. Gijón, bottom of La Liga and with four losses in four away games, were expected to be three-points fodder for Mallorca. And nothing in the first half suggested otherwise, Castro's header putting the home team ahead after quarter of an hour and Mallorca dominating play. But Gijón started to come more into the game and soon after the break gained a deserved equaliser through a Bilic header, and worse was to come for Mallorca, Joao Victor, playing at centre-back as the team was running out of central defenders, put through his own net. Mallorca, losing it for a time, came back, Pina hitting a post. Gijón, suffering a series of yellow cards towards the end, held on to condemn Mallorca to a home defeat which, after the joy of a draw in Madrid, brings them back to earth with a bump.

Aouate; Cendrós, Joao Victor, Ramis, Bigas; Tissone (Tejera 67), Pina; Pereira (Victor 60), Nsue (Alfaro 77), Castro; Hemed
Goal: Castro (16)
Yellow: Ramis (44); Tejera (68); Cendrós (71); Pina (75)

Juan Pablo; Lora (Damián Suárez 78), Botia, Iván Hernández, Canella; Rivera, Cases; Trejo, André Castro, De las Cuevas (Eguren 83); Barral (Bilic 45)
Goal: Bilic (49); Joao Victor (64 - own goal)
Yellow: De las Cuevas (54); Iván Hernández (87); Eguren (89); André Castro (90+)

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 October 2011

A mix of sun and cloud at 09:00 with a local high of 16 degrees. A fine day ahead, but from tomorrow, especially in the afternoon, things are set to go downhill - Friday and the weekend look poor.

Afternoon update: A pretty good day. Plenty of sun and very warm in the direct sun. A maximum of 23 mid-afternoon, but things really do look a bit grim for a few days, starting tomorrow.

Every Poster Tells A Tourism Story

It mystifies me why more is not made of an aspect of Mallorcan and Spanish history that is, for many people, more relevant and more real than much of the history that tourism bodies would prefer to shove down people's throats. Indeed, the tourism bodies are missing a trick, because they are sitting on a vast repository of documentation and images that is a record of the very thing they are concerned with and is what intrigues any number of visitors - tourism itself and its history.

In 1985 the Institute of Touristic Studies (part of the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce) was established. Its centre of documentation has well over 100,000 documents of various types. Some can be accessed via the internet or, if you happen to be in Madrid, can be seen by visiting the centre (naturally enough, only ever open in the mornings; don't let's get too carried away with convenience to the public).

The use of the word document suggests something rather dry. Many of the documents are just that, but not all. Nothing like all, as they include brochures, postcards, photos and posters.

Posters have a particular status in local culture. For some fiestas, they seem more important than the fiestas themselves. Their presentation are events in their own right, and sometimes - for the right and wrong reasons - they become news, as with the poster for the final bullfight in Barcelona (the right reason because it was so highly prized) and for Palma's most recent San Sebastià fiesta (the wrong reason because the design was plagiarised).

Posters for tourism have a long history, and not just in Spain. They were once, of course, a means of promotion for British seaside resorts, produced by the old "Big Four" regional rail companies and then the nationalised British Railways.

Spanish tourism, by comparison with that to Bridlington or Brighton, is more recent, and the Institute's astonishing collection of posters covers the second half of the last century. The golden age for the tourism poster, though, was from 1960 to 1980.

One of the first posters in the collection, dating from 1961, suggests that Spanish tourism authorities hadn't quite got the hang of what was to make Spain a mass tourism destination. A "Castilian Landscape", it shows a rainbow tumbling from a sky of blue clouds into the horizon of a wheat field.

A year later, however, and the penny has started to drop. Though the posters were all designed to promote Spain (in different languages), images of different parts of the country were used, and so Mallorca, and its beach tourism, features for the first time. A poster in French has a scene of the beach at Formentor. Sunshades made from reeds shield sunbathers, two boats and what looks like a water-skier are in the sea, pines (symbolic of the area) encroach on either side of the foreground. It looks remarkably contemporary; or maybe nothing has really changed.

The choice of Formentor, exclusive then and still exclusive, does perhaps hint at the type of tourism that was being mainly hoped for. In the same year, there is a poster for Torremolinos. Not of what you might expect, but of its golf course. Benidorm appears for the first time in 1966, or at least the name appears; you don't see any of the resort, just some sail boats on a beach.

As the 1960s progress, you can trace how widely promotion was being conducted. Posters are produced for exhibitions across Europe and even in New York. Historic sites vie with the image of the bullfight and with those of resorts, and Mallorca shows off a second - Cala San Vicente with the iconic shot of the Cavall Bernat horse promontory across the Cala Molins.

The "alternative" tourism of the current day is revealed to be not quite so alternative or new. In addition to the likes of golf, gastronomy appears in 1967; a rustic bodega with an Iberian ham very much in evidence. But by now, mass tourism is being admitted to, and it is Torremolinos again, this time with a beach scene, not packed with people, but in far greater numbers than had been on Formentor beach.

I could go on, but you should see for yourselves. The collection is fascinating and it is made more fascinating because the posters represent images and resorts which mean something, which is the point of much Mallorcan and Spanish tourism history - it is history within people's own lifetimes. And this is why more should be made of it.

To see the posters, go to There is an English section, and you need to click on "documentary funds", then "catalogues search" and you will come to a list which includes "tourist posters". Type in "España" where it says "words" in the first box, then put in the dates 1960-1980 and opt for dates ascending or descending.

Any comments to please.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 October 2011

The rain has finally arrived and did so before midnight, but it has only been heavy in short bursts. A grey morning with the threat of more rain, not cold, with temperatures around 16 degrees. The forecast is in fact reasonable for today and also tomorrow, but it then goes totally pear-shaped on Thursday right through into the weekend.

Afternoon update: Turned out nice again. Sunny and warm this afternoon with a high of 22.6 degrees.

MALLORCA TODAY - Increase in Pollensa rubbish tax

Opposition groups have condemned what they say are broken elections promises on behalf of the Partido Popular-led town hall in Pollensa which plans to approve tax rises by 10% for domestic rubbish collection and by 27% for businesses.

MALLORCA TODAY - Rain helps to douse Albufera fire

A fire that broke out in a reed bed in the area of Son Sant Martí at the edge of the Albufera wetlands and off the road between Can Picafort and Muro was brought under control after some four hours, thanks in part to rain that had been anticipated all day. The fire started at around 19:45 yesterday evening.

Some 100 hectares of mainly reed and grass land are said to have been affected by the fire.

You Have The Poor Always With You

What does the Spanish region of Extremadura have in common with Ethiopia? (And don't say that both start with an "e".)

The two share a strikingly similar percentage in terms of their respective rates of poverty. The measures are different, as greatly different factors come into play, but the percentage of the population of Extremadura currently in poverty is 38%. In 2005, according to figures released by the CIA, Ethiopia, only six notches above the poorest two countries in the world in terms of per capita income, had a poverty rate of 38.7%.

Don't let us confuse the two figures. Local standards of living mean that the poverty rates are calculated quite differently, but even so, if African poverty is considered a bad thing, which it is, should we not be somewhat alarmed by a level of poverty in Spain that, in relative terms, is equally as bad?

Extremadura, as revealed by new figures from the INE (the Spanish national statistics office), is Spain's poorest region. And the Spanish are getting poorer. Provisional figures for 2011 suggest that there has been an increase of just over one percentage point, to 21.9%, of people in Spain who live below the breadline, defined in terms of a two-child family with an income of less than 15,820 euros a year.

The Balearics sit in the middle of the league table of rich and poor parts of Spain;20.6% of the population in 2010 existed in poverty, almost exactly the same as the national average of 20.7% last year. Taking the CIA's statistics, Spain, to put it bluntly, is the poorest country in western Europe. It is poorer than many countries in eastern Europe, and the Balearics are pretty much bang on the same mark.

National and regional wealth do paint a different picture. The Balearics, by GDP per head of population, is one of the wealthiest parts of Spain, and Spain is rated by the IMF as the twelfth richest nation in the world. Not that this necessarily counts for much when a country can get itself into such a crisis of debt. And there is no getting away from the fact that economic crisis has added to the level of poverty and from the fact that, regardless of GDP figures, there is real hardship in the Balearics and an increasing inequality in the distribution of wealth.

Among the various statistics that inform the INE's report is a measure of "delays in payments related to the main dwelling" (by which is meant ability to meet mortgage or rent payments, among others). On this measure, the Balearics are by far the worst region in Spain, by almost five percentage points more than the next poorest performing region, the Canary Islands.

Such a finding can be interpreted in different ways. It could be that people have overstretched themselves where mortgage commitments are concerned - which has certainly been the case - but it might also suggest that the Balearics, and property values in particular, are too expensive, relative to general earnings capacity.

If this is so, and one is inclined to believe it to be so, then the regional government's decision to unblock projects for more luxury property development and the fact that the luxury real-estate market is relatively buoyant at present (buoyant especially where overseas buyers are concerned) put the situation into sharper relief, and it borders on the obscene.

The national government and the regional government in the Balearics operate, by comparison with other European countries, from a low base when it comes to provisions of a welfare state. But what provisions there are, are due to fall to an even lower base. The Bauzá administration is entirely mute on the subject of welfare, save for its wishes to make cuts. And these cuts have so far been more drastic than in any other part of Spain, and we yet to have revealed the full horrors that await under a national Partido Popular government.

In a few days time, we will witness the physical manifestation of the absurdity that is the local economy. The dole queues will be snaking along streets, miles upon miles of humanity, looking for its annual handout from a government that is in no position to make it. Unemployment, greater levels of poverty, cuts to services, cuts to assistance, while all the time the government abrogates responsibility to the private sector and shows not the slightest interest in any form of welfare policy.

One in five people in the Balearics living in poverty, and rising. Two in five in Extremadura. And this is meant to be a wealthy country.

Any comments to please.

Monday, October 24, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Senior tourism programme at risk

Further to today's main article ("Senior Service: Mallorca's salvation"), the programme for this winter at least looks as though it will not happen. Because of the national and regional deficits, agreements have not been signed by Madrid or by the Balearic Government to cover the funding that should be forthcoming. The result will be that at least 10,000 tourists will now not be coming this winter and that the hotels which had planned on offering employment will now not be able to do so.

MALLORCA TODAY - Palm beetle reaches Muro

With nine confirmed cases of palms affected by the palm beetle in the town of Muro, in addition to others in Playa de Muro, the town hall has been waging a campaign to try and reduce the impact of the beetle and to prevent it spreading further. All municipal palms are being treated with an insecticide and residents are being advised as to measures to take.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 October 2011

While there is a good deal of cloud about, there is no sign of the rain just yet. It would seem more likely later on. Currently, at 09:00, highs up to 21 degrees, but there may be a drop later.

Afternoon update: Well, so much for the rain. It will come, though, some time. Remarkably warm, with a high of 25 degrees this afternoon. Forecasted to rain overnight, which would be a good thing given the fire on the edge of Albufera towards Muro.

Senior Service: Mallorca's salvation?

It was the Americans, inevitably, who created new for old. The new age pensioner, as opposed to the old, became "senior". It happened quite a number of years ago, but now, of course, we are totally familiar with seniors and with the images which accompany them.

Seniors are all Robert Kilroy-Silk or Gloria Hunniford of appropriate vintages - not a hair out of place, with their own teeth and permanently delighted by Dell having shown them the wonders of communicating via a PC, by the letter they have just received itemising their health insurance premiums or by the foreign land in which they find themselves indulging in a spot of senior tourism.

The World Tourism Organization has been holding its nineteenth assembly. It is a mark of how diverse tourism has become that the organization in its early years used to gather in Torremolinos; now it has pitched up in South Korea. Geographical diversity is matched by tourism market diversity, hence a focus on the senior market in Gyeongju (and no, I'd never heard of it either).

The growth in the senior tourism market in Europe has opened up new countries as sources of tourists. Greece, for example. One might have thought that the Greeks have the benefits that off-season Spain can boast: reasonable weather, fair dollops of history and culture and their own version of tapas. Perhaps so, but the ancient Greeks increasingly fancy getting away from it all; getting away from all the burning cars in the streets presumably.

The Greeks add to the ever-increasing numbers of seniors from the more traditional markets, such as those of Scandinavia, moving about in winter. And mostly all of these tourists are heading to Spain in the off-season under the Europe Senior Tourism (EST) programme.

According to a body called Segittur, by 2020 five million European seniors will be travelling annually in the off-season as part of EST, and three regions of the country are set to capture the overwhelming majority of them - Valencia, Andalusia and the Balearics.

Segittur is a national organization dedicated to innovation in tourism technologies, primarily the internet at present. It, therefore, has Dell and all other computer companies to thank for the delight of Roberts and Glorias from across Europe who have got themselves online and who can take advantage of the opportunities for a Spanish winter holiday.

Senior tourism is not exactly new. In Mallorca it has typically been more of a social services type tourism and is one that has left resorts underwhelmed. Scandinavian pensioners, heavily subsidised, have been going to Alcúdia for some years, but this type of tourism does little or nothing for the local economy as barely any money is spent.

What is different about this new wave of senior tourism is that EST is aimed at a market that isn't simply being packed off to escape the worst of a north European winter by governments that hope to save on the cost of their health services. It is still described as "social tourism" but the offer is more up-market; accommodation, for instance, is usually four-star.

The holiday package is also partially subsidised - by the Spanish Government and regional governments, including the Balearics - and the subsidy varies according to country. Here, though, is a catch. Which country isn't included in the EST scheme? Well, the UK for one. But it's not as though this programme is just directed at new markets in the east of Europe; the likes of France, Austria and Italy hardly fall into that category.

The programme is, however, still in its early stages. A two-year pilot phase has created 100,000 visitors to Spain, so the Segittur target has quite some way to go, and to achieve it, it will need to embrace other countries, like the UK, Germany and also Russia.

So, is this all going to mean that winter tourism, courtesy of Roberts and Glorias (who do indeed feature in the EST website promotion), will be transforming Mallorca? Possibly. However, of the 100,000, two-thirds of them opted to go to Andalusia, to the Costas del Sol or Almeria. The 16,000 or so who came to the Balearics may have been higher had more hotels been part of the scheme, or perhaps one is back to the same old issue - that of the weather.

Nevertheless, it is a highly encouraging development, one that involves a market which does tend to spend money. And before you ask. No, the package is not all-inclusive; it's half board, which is even more encouraging.

Any comments to please.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Atlético Madrid 1 : 1 Real Mallorca

Mallorca away at Atlético, coached by Gregorio Manzano, formerly of Mallorca and with whom the club had a falling-out following his departure. So, a bit of an edge, and it was maybe reflected by the number of yellow cards in an astonishing game in which Hemed, yet again, scored from the penalty spot, this time almost from the kick-off, thanks to a handball by Silvio. Another penalty, taken by Falcao, restored parity in what became a game of almost total Atlético dominance and Mallorca rearguard, mainly the reason for all the yellows. Mallorca toughed it out, and a draw was a superb result.

Courtois; Silvio, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis; Mario Suarez; Adrián (Salvio 53), Tiago (Reyes 53), Diego, Turan (Pizzi 79); Falcao
Goal: Falcao (penalty - 42)
Yellows: Turan (55); Mario Suarez (60)

Aouate; Cendrós, Chico (Joao Victor (71), Ramis, Bigas; Pina, Tissone; Nsue, Tejera (Alfaro 45), Castro; Hemed (Aki 60)
Goal: Hemed (penalty - 1)
Yellows: Ramis (42); Chico (47); Bigas (54); Tissone (68); Castro (83); Aki (84)

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 October 2011

A bright start with some cloud about and temperatures around the 15 mark at 09:00. A threat of rain exists for the whole day, though there should also be good amounts of sun.

Afternoon update: Yellow alert issued from 18:00 following what has been a reasonable day with some warm sun and highs to 22 degrees. Tomorrow looks horrid, as does the end of the week.

MALLORCA TODAY - Parking zones to return to Puerto Pollensa

Blue parking zones, which mean having to pay for street parking, will be reintroduced to Puerto Pollensa at the start of next season. The zones have not been applied for two years, but business has called for them to be reinstated. The new administration at the town hall would have done so this year but there was no time for it to put the service out to tender.

Rotarvator: Theme park scepticism

The first rule of any plan for a new development, be it major or minor, be it housing or commercial, or be it theme park, is that the environmentalist group GOB will find some reason to get it strangled before it's even born.

The theme park between Llucmajor and Campos would be illegal. Well, what a surprise. You wouldn't need to be intimately acquainted with the arcane nature of Mallorcan land law to yourselves be able to announce that the plan was illegal. You wouldn't, because somewhere along the legal line it's almost bound to be illegal. Everything is in Mallorca, if you look hard enough.

What might come as a shock to GOB, however, is that legal objections may no longer hold much sway. Illegal? Fair enough, we'll make it un-illegal, we being the regional government. GOB is in danger of waging wars it has not the slightest possibility of winning. Has it not noticed who's running the island now?

The environment bit is not what really interests about the theme park plans. The first rule of any plan for a new development involving foreign investors, who may not be immediately well-known, is to assign to them the possibility of their "doing a Davidson" and to look hard enough to find some reason, however tenuous, to support the Davidson theory.

In case you need reminding, Davidson was Paul Davidson, he who made fools out of Real Mallorca football club (not, admittedly, that difficult to do) with his wild ambitions to buy the club. The few fools who weren't taken in hook, line, sinker and plunger by the otherwise-known-as "Plumber" were the Spanish press. They were hostile to him from the outset. Rightly as it turned out. But now, the chance to find a further example of "doing a Davidson" is leading the press to express scepticism and to dig for support to justify it.

What we are getting, therefore, are questions as to business credentials (not unreasonable) and to hints of some sort of Rotarian carve-up (almost certainly utterly unreasonable).

Setting aside any proclivity for xenophobia (and many a Mallorcan is guilty of it), the Rotarian ruse is extraordinary. Or, on the face of it, it is. To explain: The main man behind the Theme Park Group (TPG) is one Per Michael Pedersen. It just so happens that he is a Rotarian. So also is the president of the Balearics, José Bauzá. QED, some sort of accommodation of a Rotarian nature.

To understand the Rotary angle, over and above any hugely dubious suggestions of influence being wielded, one needs to appreciate a spot of Rotarian history, especially where the Spanish are concerned, because they have form. It was Spanish bishops in 1928 who, convinced that the Rotarians were "satanist" and "execrable", got the then Pope on-message enough to go along with the idea and thus bracket them with the masons.

The Catholic Church has since softened its stance, but there remains a tendency to equate Rotarians to the masons. Some might be both, but few would be their numbers. In the Balearics, there are said to be around only 400 masons. Rotary International, on the other hand, has any number of members locally. As its regional co-ordinator said in a recent interview, they have "nothing to do" with masons.

But in the scramble to find some means of supporting scepticism, poor old Pedersen's Rotary membership makes him a target for the seekers after a new "Davidson Effect". I can accuse Bauzá of many things, and do accuse and will continue to do so, but to suggest that there is anything more to the coincidence that he and Pedersen are both members of Rotary International is absurd.

Where there is more reason for scepticism relates to the business credentials. Pedersen has been involved with grand plans for a commercial centre in the Danish town of Greve. They have ground to a halt because of local town hall objections. But to use this as a rod with which to beat him is also pretty absurd. How many developments in Mallorca grind to a halt because of objections, be they from GOB or whoever?

What matters, or should do, are the financing of the theme park, the partners involved (and they have ample and relevant experience) and the plans themselves. It is these which raise my own doubts, such as the notion of the park being open most of the year, but they are practical ones, nothing more.

The worry that another Davidson might be done is understandable, but Davidson was some sort of fantasist. The theme park may have its fantasy world section, but, it is a very different beast. As for the Rotary stuff. Just forget it.

Any comments to please.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Protests over government cuts in Palma

Some one thousand people - from the education, health and social services sectors - staged a protest in Palma yesterday evening against cuts by the regional government and against what they see as the potential destruction of the local welfare state.

MALLORCA TODAY - Rats take over Muro houses

Unoccupied houses in a street in Muro town have been targeted by the rat population, leading to the town hall to issue reminders as to obligations to keep houses in a sanitary condition. Rats are a particular problem in Muro and Playa de Muro because of the proximity of Albufera.

MALLORCA TODAY - Lack of rain affects Albufera

A lack of rain both in spring and since then, combined with contamination from farming activity, has contributed to a reduction by almost a quarter of the number of ducks in the Albufera nature park and therefore to their breeding activity.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 October 2011

A fine morning with only some typical cloud coming from the mountains over the bay of Pollensa, which is set to all disappear and leave a good, sunny day. Local temperatures at 15 to 16 at 08:30, rising to possibly 23 degrees later. The forecast for Monday and Tuesday looks poor.

Afternoon update: Not a bad day at all. Plenty of sun with best temperature of 21.5 during the afternoon. Tomorrow looks reasonable, but Monday is still a worry, if Tuesday now less so.

Don't Walk This Way: Camí de Ternelles

After years of legal wrangle and several weeks spent in a courtroom in Inca, a judge has arbitrated that the property through which the Camí de Ternelles in Pollensa passes is indeed private. This old way or road has been the focus of a battle between ramblers and Pollensa town hall, on one side, and the owners, the March family of bank fame, on the other.

To summarise, the judge has said that the property passed into private hands in 1811 and that on this property a way does not exist that is in the public domain. The judge has added that the town hall must remove the walk from its brochure of local rambles but has also advised the owners to respect the currently restricted access of up twenty walkers a day. The town hall may appeal.

The judge's decision is hugely important. It has potential ramifications for other walks not just in Pollensa but in other parts of Mallorca. Indeed, it is that important that it might serve to kill stone dead many of the ambitions that exist, since the awarding of World Heritage status, for opening up the Tramuntana mountains to more tourism.

In the immediate Pollensa area, walks such as those with access to Boquer could be threatened. And the threat resides in whether land is ultimately determined as being private or in the public domain, a threat that extends along the Tramuntana range and from the legal battle that has been fought at its northerly, Pollensa end.

What was generally overlooked amidst the euphoria of the awarding of World Heritage status was the fact that most of the Tramuntana range is privately owned, or claimed to be. This does not in itself prevent walks, so long as some accommodation is arrived at with owners (and Pollensa town hall seems to think that it might yet be able to do just this with the March family). But if there are no agreements, much of the range becomes off-limits, and the prospect arises of years of legal disputes in order to try and secure rights of way.

It is such a prospect that must seriously curb whatever marketing there might be in mind for the Tramuntana. It would be a massive mistake to start promoting walks, only for other town halls to discover, as in Pollensa, that they have to then scrub them.

However, the issue with many walks is not simply one that relates to land ownership. There is also the sea.

The Ternelles walk ultimately leads to the Cala Castell, a cove to the west of Cala San Vicente. The walk also provides access to the ancient fortification of the Castell del Rei, only a short distance from the coast. The judge has made clear that, privately owned or not privately owned, because the property forms a link with the coast, free access to the sea must be supported. This stems from the principle enshrined in the Coasts Law (yep, that again) which guarantees free access to the public.

The limitation of twenty people a day was, in effect, a compromise established by the Council of Mallorca. It was predicated not so much on the question of land ownership but on access to the sea. By emphasising this aspect, however, the judge has surely opened up the possibility of a legal challenge to the Council's compromise. And invoking the Coasts Law is what makes the Ternelles saga even more interesting.

This is because of a move that has gone almost completely unnoticed (not least by myself, until a couple of days ago), namely that the regional government is set to assume responsibility for the coasts in the Balearics. This would involve a transfer of such responsibility from the Costas Authority and would involve the management of the coasts. But it could also well mean ordinance. If so, this raises all sorts of questions of the type that have been raised regarding hotel exploitation of beaches and also of public access to the sea and whether this would indeed be guaranteed - the privatisation question.

Yet the regional government, aware of the need for tourism development that embraces heritage and culture and that exploits the Tramuntana's new status, can ill afford to have obstacles in the way of accessing important historic sites such as the Castell del Rei. Consequently, Ternelles has the potential to become an issue not between Pollensa town hall and the owners but between a Partido Popular government and the most powerful banking family in Mallorca.

Of course, this may not mean a collision course; it could actually help to smooth the situation. But one thing is almost certain. The last has not been heard about the Ternelles walk. It has way, way further to go.

Any comments to please.

Friday, October 21, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Yacht drama in Pollensa's Cala Figuera

Guardia Civil officers, facing difficult access, managed to climb down rocks and steady with rope a boat with three French people on board that was being dashed against cliffs by rough seas in the Cala Figuera in Pollensa. The incident occurred yesterday morning at around 03:30. The three, a couple and a ten-year-old boy, were rescued and treated by emergency medical services, the woman said to be suffering from hypothermia.

MALLORCA TODAY - Camí de Ternelles remains private

Following lengthy tribunal hearings in Inca, a legal decision has finally been issued in respect of access to the Camí de Ternelles in Pollensa and therefore to the Castell del Rei. The judge has decreed that the land is private (it is owned by the March family) and that the town hall must remove it from its brochure of local walks, though the judge has also said that partial access, which has been granted for some while and which is limited to twenty people daily, should continue. The decision could have ramifications for other walks not just in Pollensa. The town hall has five days to decide if it wishes to appeal against the decision.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 October 2011

A gloomy morning with some heavy cloud though no rain. Brightening up later, but the islands have been put on a general yellow alert as of today, even though generalised rain is not anticipated until the start of next week. There is the possibility of localised storms from today, and at some stage over the next days the possibility of a damaging weather event (placed at between 20 and 40% possibility).

Afternoon update: Some sunny periods but heavy clouds back by later afternoon. No rain, but the sky looks as though there should be. Temperatures only at 18 or 19 degrees today. The met office, reporting that October has been warmer and drier than normal, says that the rest of the autumn is likely to now be wetter than usual and marked by unstable weather patterns.

MALLORCA TODAY - ETA announces definitive end to terrorism campaign

ETA has announced that it has called for a definitive cessation to its terrorist campaign. Prime Minister Zapatero has described this as a victory for democracy and reason. The ETA announcement comes exactly a month before the national elections in Spain and just after a conference attended by Kofi Annan and Gerry Adams. There is a link between ETA and the Spanish elections in that it was wrongly blamed for the Madrid bombings in 2004 by the then ruling Partido Popular whose handling of the bombings was partly responsible for a surprise win for Zapatero's PSOE socialists. The PSOE candidate this time is Alfredo Rubalcaba, the former interior minister and someone therefore well versed with ETA matters. It might be thought that the ETA announcement could be a boost to PSOE at the election, though it has been accused in the past of being soft on terrorism. Partido Popular candidate Mariano Rajoy has played down the announcement, not surprisingly perhaps in that he doesn't wish to give PSOE any advantage, by saying that Spain will not be at ease until ETA fully dissolves and disarms.

When Enough Luxury Is Enough

Are the Partido Popular environmental vandals? Judging by responses from eco groups and the usual suspects on the left to plans to "unblock" certain developments on Mallorca, then the answer is yes.

As sure as governmental night followed electoral day then no sooner had the PP returned to Balearics political leadership in May than the bulldozers' engines were being revved up. It was simply a question as to how long it would take for parts of the island to be flattened and to then be built on.

I am not, though, without some sympathy for the PP, if only because they are cocking a snook at the maddeningly zealous previous administration and its PSM (Mallorcan socialists) component in particular. The decision of the Bauzá government to revoke laws of 2007 and 2008 and so permit development of some ten sites in Mallorca and Ibiza stems partly from the fact that it was facing claims of nigh on one thousand million euros from developers whose bulldozers had been stopped in their tracks.

This financial justification is probably a convenience, however. A stronger one is that, by loosening the legal noose, some activity can be put into the local economy. Which is probably true, but only up to a point.

The projects that had been put on ice range from the development of an entertainment and commercial centre in Playa de Palma to apartments in Cala Carbó in Cala San Vicente. But the projects may not stop with these. Enviro group GOB reckons that a new law would open the way to building of a sort that had been expressly prohibited - that of residential accommodation on golf courses.

Why should this matter? In a way, it shouldn't, except that it would raise the prospect of plans, such as those for the Muro golf course, currently on hold, being expanded to include accommodation. It has always been maintained that this development would be for golf and for golf alone.

It matters in this regard: Opposition to the Muro course from ordinary people of the town, and not that drummed up by the normal agitators, has centred on what is seen as being a development for the rich. You could be reasonably sure that whatever accommodation was built on a golf course, wherever it is, would not be for the ordinary people. And so it would also be with some of the projects that would be unblocked: Cala Carbó, luxury houses; two in Andratx, luxury apartments and villas.

At a time when the PP government is cutting back, when it is unable to pay various suppliers and when it has shown not the slightest hint of having something approximating to a sensitive social policy, it enters dangerous territory if all that appears to be on offer is some employment, the consequence of putting up luxury homes; luxury homes, moreover, which are likely to find foreign and part-time occupants.

It is less that environmental objections should be of concern and more that the PP appears to be betting the house on the private sector exclusively and on exclusive developments, to boot. Short-term boosts to employment in the construction industry are fine, but longer-term economic gains by flogging property to what are often absentee landlords are minor. It is a policy that heightens social division and has the potential for heightening social tensions.

There is also a certain disingenuousness on behalf of the government when it comes to the environmental aspects of developments. The reform of the tourism law, while making it easier for hotels to renovate existing sites, will not involve new building, or so the tourism minister has said. However, the tourism law is not the same as land law. In addition to luxury hotel projects in Capdepera and Campos that have already been announced, there would be a further one in Andratx. Don't discount there being others.

Again, these should all generally be welcome, but they add to a growing perception of Mallorca reclaiming for itself its old cliché of a playground for the rich but also claiming for itself a society riven by division, a chasm made wider by the vociferous noises of the environmentally-appalled left and independence elements.

At some point, enough is going to become enough, and the phenomena of the "indignados" and Occupy will take on a specifically Mallorcan characteristic. The island has yet to experience what has occurred in Sardinia, where the wealthy have been pelted with wet sand, but trouble is being stored up. What might seem like practical changes to land use could cut an awful lot deeper than might be imagined.

Any comments to please.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 October 2011

The anticipated change in the weather has occurred. From around midnight, the wind got up and the sea got increasingly angry. At 08:00 it is dark and completely overcast with heavy cloud, though the temperature is holding up - at around 17 degrees. Rain has been heavier inland, the coastal areas registering, so far, about 6 mm as opposed to around 16 away from the coast. Things are due to brighten up later and the forecast into the weekend is ok, but then looks far less so from Monday.

Afternoon update: There was an improvement with some sun but also a fair amount of cloud. Temperatures have been no great shakes, with highs under 20 degrees. Tomorrow is likely to be very similar; a good deal of cloud and temperature down.

A Familiar Theme Now Coming To Campos

You are entitled to wonder "crisis, what crisis", given the sudden outbreak of development plans springing up left, right, centre and predominantly around the south-east of the island. The latest is an old theme, that of a theme park, long in the offing and long in the kicking into the tall grass of environmental objections.

We know of course that the tourism minister, well before he had been elected, had spoken of his wishes for there to be more theme parks, so the project conceived by the appropriately named Danish company, the Theme Park Group, comes as no surprise. The company has had its hopes dashed in the past, but it now must hope that it will be able to push ahead.

The plan is for there to be a park which occupies some 110 hectares of land. Exactly where is a secret, but only of sorts. It will be between the towns of Llucmajor and Campos. The company's website shows its location on the motorway between the two and north of Sa Ràpita where there are separate plans for a new 1250-place hotel.

The Danish theme park is not the only one in the area. Campos's neighbour, Ses Salines, has approved the idea for the Christian theme park. "Tierra Santa" was originally destined to be in Capdepera, but it may well now be heading to the town of the salt marshes. There has to be some allegory in all this. Lot's wife, pillar of salt and all that, though where Sodom and Gomorrah come into it, I'm not sure. The theme park will probably tell us.

Mention of Capdepera has some link with the Danish scheme. It is intended that one area with typical Mallorcan buildings will be included. The plan for the luxury hotel complex in Capdepera involves its being created in the style of a Mallorcan village. There is just one slight snag which has cropped up with this. No one seems to have met the Qatari sheikh said to be behind it all. Indeed, no one seems to be able to confirm that he exists. Even Hyatt, which would operate the hotel, is being somewhat circumspect about the project, though it has been associated with such a scheme for at least a couple of years.

If some scepticism has arisen in respect of Capdepera, there needn't be with the Danish scheme. As an idea, it has been doing the rounds for long enough to remove doubts, though there are the issues of permission (which should probably pose little problem with the new government) and of financing. The park will require 200 million euros of investment. A third of this would be forthcoming from the company itself together with tour operators said to be associates in the project. The rest would come from banks and financial institutions. One trusts that the banks will be more minded to release funds for the theme park than they otherwise appear to be.

Perhaps conscious of the environmental objections that have dashed previous theme park proposals, the company is careful to demonstrate the park's eco-credentials. Energy savings and limiting emissions, water savings, noise and light pollution, they are all there, alongside what the park will actually comprise: an adventure area, a fantasy world, a tropical world and pirates. Yes, really, yet more pirates. There will also be a lake and of course the Mallorcan buildings as part of a "Mallorca Experience".

It all sounds fair enough, but does it sound that original? What Mallorca could do with is a real attention-grabber, something which might say to the tourist that he should come to Mallorca, as opposed to it being an option he has for a day out that doesn't specifically influence the decision to holiday in Mallorca. One would have to wait and see. It might be highly original, but sorry, ever more pirates don't necessarily set the pulse racing.

I wish them the best of luck with it. Theme parks, and more of them, are good for tourism. But in one respect, the project may represent a missed opportunity. It would appear that it will only be open during the season. Or maybe I'm missing something. An all-year, all-weather theme park facility would mean a great deal more for Mallorca's tourism.

The company, in addition to pressing the environmental friendliness of the theme park, presses the right buttons in other ways. Mallorca has been chosen, it says, "because there is a need to improve the offer complementing sun and beach tourism". True enough, but the complements are necessary when the sun and beach are not on offer.

For more information, go to

Any comments to please.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Concern over apartments development in Puerto Pollensa

Pollensa town hall has sought to calm fears that one of the old cottages along Puerto Pollensa's pine walk, which dates back to the start of the last century, is set to be demolished to make way for a development of apartments. The town hall is considering giving the cottage - Can Franc, also known as Can Llobera - protected status and also granting this to other old houses in the resort. It has criticised opposition parties for stoking fears, saying that no application has been made for the development.

Photo courtesy of Alternativa per Pollença.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 October 2011

A fine sunny morning, chilly at only 15 degrees at 08:30, but with temperatures again in the low twenties later, but there is the distinct possibility of a temporary change later today and through tomorrow with rain and wind coming in.

Afternoon update: No sign of that break in the weather; it's been another good, sunny day with highs at 22.5 degrees. Indeed, the forecast for tomorrow is not as bad now but there is an alert out nevertheless for adverse conditions in the north. Looking ahead, the start of next week isn't that good at present.

Voting Rights?: Go to New Zealand

One of the dangers with "burning issues" for the expatriate community is that we end up repeating ourselves, myself included. If not winter flights and tourism or all-inclusives, then voting rights. In addition to repetition, we might also not get a wholly accurate or complete picture.

"Brussels thinks Spain's stance on non-Spanish voters is undemocratic." ("The Bulletin", 15 October.) I'm not sure Brussels does think this. Brussels, or some bureaucrats or politicians lurking within its labyrinths may think, just possibly, that a new decree should be issued regarding voting rights for expatriates in national elections, but if they do, then they would have the whole of the EU in mind. The issue is not a Spanish one but a European one.

Just to remind you. Under terms of the Single Market, provision was made for expatriates (of whatever nationality within the EU) to be able to vote in European and local elections in the country in which they are resident. No provision was made for national elections. That was the agreement, and it still is.

The agreement doesn't prevent countries from granting a vote in general elections, if they so wish. But only two EU countries - Ireland and Portugal - have come anywhere near to doing so. In Ireland, a proposal to permit voting for the Dáil and for the President has been around for three years, but it remains only a proposal.

There are anomalies with voting rights for foreign nationals, such as Irish citizens (and Commonwealth subjects) being permitted to vote in a British general election and, in parts of the UK, a Spanish or any other EU resident being able to vote for a devolved parliament or assembly, while a Brit in Spain cannot vote in a regional election.

Anomalies aside, the undemocratic aspect of voting rights in the EU lies not with the current restrictions on foreign residents but with disenfranchisement from any national election. The UK 15-year rule is not the only such rule. If you are Danish and have permanently lived outside of Denmark for two years, you lose your right to vote.

Such disenfranchisement, unbalanced by a right to vote in the country of residence (i.e. Spain, for our purposes), is undemocratic, or appears to be, as it goes against the principle of universal suffrage. But suffrage itself is wrapped up in concepts of citizenship and national sovereignty. Limited suffrage can be granted, as with the provisions of the Single Market, but in the most important manifestation of suffrage - that of voting for national parliaments - unless you are a citizen of a country, you cannot vote.

There are countries in which foreigners can vote in national elections. Permanent residents in New Zealand can. In Uruguay, there is a fifteen-year qualification rule. But these are very much the exception. The principle is, overwhelmingly, citizenship equals the right to vote for a national parliament; a national parliament is a supreme expression of sovereignty; and sovereignty is enshrined in national constitutions.

The limited rights to voting within the EU have required constitutional amendments. To extend rights to national elections would require further changes and thus a huge political debate. In Spain, any constitutional amendment does, strictly speaking, require a referendum. The EU might mandate voting rights for foreigners in national elections (though I would personally doubt that it would, certainly not in the current climate with the problems with the Euro), but this would still necessitate constitutional changes.

Just think about it for a moment. Would the British Government go along with such a directive from Europe? Well, would it? Apart from anything else, the right-wing press would be in uproar. The same in Spain. While British residents might press their claims to vote, has anyone asked the Spanish what they would think? Politically, it would be a step too far, and for the EU to mandate such a move would probably signal its own collapse. And were it to, then the whole burning issue of voting rights would cease to be an issue.

I have no disagreement with citizenship being paramount in determining who should be allowed to vote (and please, let's not have any we're all Europeans speciousness). Where a change might be made is with respect to the length of time one has been resident, as in Uruguay, but there should also be strings attached, as contemplated by the Irish, one being to pass a language test. After all, if you can't command the language, how can you have true command of the issues, always assuming of course that you are interested? But that is a different matter entirely.

Any comments to please.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 October 2011

A pleasant enough morning, sunny but with hill cloud, local highs at 08:30 at just under 16 degrees. From tomorrow evening, a cold front is expected to move in which will reduce temperatures by three to four degrees and bring rain on Thursday along with occasionally strong winds in the north of the island.

Afternoon update: It has been a rather warmer day with afternoon highs close to 23 degrees, but things do still seem set to go down from tomorrow evening, though there should be a swift recovery by Friday.

Look Bach In Anger

Where had the Welsh been all summer? At the going down of the season, they suddenly emerged, orange-wristbanded, into Bar Brit (Foxes Arms), which temporarily became Bar Bridgend, Pub Pontypool, Café Cardiff.

A huge Welsh flag partially blocked the entrance, the rest of it was blocked by a huge Welsh front-row forward: Tiny, as he's known, released from culinary duties to mingle front of house and prop up his compatriots. Was there a special Welsh breakfast on the menu? Laverbread and leek perhaps? Not as such. There was no sign of any Brains having been shipped in specially either.

Prior to the Irish match, an encounter too close to call, a New Zealand newspaper came up with cultural aspects of the two countries to decide the winners. Most were still too close to call, e.g. music (U2 v. The Manics), but one had a clear edge - beer: Guinness v. Brains, a no-brainer, even if it proved to be wrong.

Guinness is usually the de rigueur tipple for the rugby aficionado, even at ten in the morning or perhaps especially at ten in the morning. Not that there was much of it in evidence either. Magners (very Irish) or something soft; a Coke for the teetotal rugby fan, a rare breed, rather like a teetotal rugby player is rare. Such abstinence was appropriate, however, as the main actor, as it was to turn out, is said to be teetotal: Sam Warburton, who sounds like a character from "Emmerdale".

One had expected the streets of Puerto Alcúdia to be alive with the sound of "Bread Of Heaven". The only bread was that of a bacon sandwich. The atmosphere was subdued, tense, one of anticipation, of destiny. The French were, after all, rubbish, and indeed, for much of the game, they did little to disprove the idea. Here was a team with the capricious Lièvremont sitting next to an assistant with a mop of hair that made him look alarmingly like the wackily-astrological Raymond Domenech, the French football team's former coach. What is it with French teams that they get lumbered with coaches that they have no alternative but to completely ignore?

For nearly twenty minutes, all went well. The French had made a clear statement of intent; they were as rubbish as everyone had said they were. And then it happened. From a melee of what seemed merely to be one of those ingredients sadly all too often missing from contemporary rugby - a good old, stand-up fistfight - a forlorn figure trooped off. Sam took up his seat at the pitch-side Woolpack for a glass of non-alcoholic Brains. No one knew the awful truth, least of all the commentator Nick Mullins. Only when the words "sent" and "off" flashed onto the screen did the truth dawn on the myopic Mullins who had managed to miss the red card.

The tense atmosphere turned into an indignant one. Tiny said, more than once, "cheated by an English referee in the first game, cheated by an Irish one now." What had happened to Celtic solidarity? But what else could have been expected? Monsieur Rolland, Irish by birth but French by name. Fluent in the language. There had been a clue before kick-off, his coming onto the pitch wearing a beret, a string of onions around his neck and whistling "La Marseillaise".

One of the punters believed that a half-time review would result in the card being rescinded. It wasn't. The half-time punditry was no less indignant, whipped up by the one-time poor-man's Des Lynam, Steve Rider, managing to do a passable impression of a presenter who hadn't the faintest idea about the sport he was presenting. Francois Pienaar abandoned his Afrikaans roots and became an honorary Welshman. Dieu, he was incandescent. Martyn Williams looked stunned, but maybe years of smashing into opposition forwards have left him permanently so.

Sam remained sadly rooted to his seat, as Monsieur Rolland removed the earpiece of his iPod with its collection of Maurice Chevalier tunes, spat out his Gitanes and blew to start the second period. Bar Bridgend needed a burst of "Cwm Rhondda" to lift the spirits. What did raise hopes was the try, but Hooky had kept hooking his kicks, Jones The Boot booted one against the upright and Halfpenny lacked half a yard.

And so the dream died. The Welsh flag came down. Bar Bridgend returned to being regular Bar Brit, Puerto Alcúdia returned to normal and the wristbanded Welsh returned through the barren land of late summer to the all-inclusive to "feed me till I want no more" and to wonder at what should have been.

Any comments to please.

Monday, October 17, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 October 2011

A real cooling down going on. 15 is the local high at 08:30 on an otherwise bright and sunny morning with only slight amounts of cloud evident. The forecast is now better for tomorrow morning, though the afternoon is likely to become overcast. Wednesday seems ok, but then Thursday does threaten the possibility of rain. Temperatures remaining in the low to mid-twenties all week.

Afternoon update: A warmer morning than afternoon, the day's highs of just over 22 around midday and then some cloud in the afternoon.

The Hotels' Beachhead

Change of government is still a month away, but the tourism industry has gone into overdrive in anticipation of all sorts of liberalisation that may be ushered forth by a Partido Popular victory.

As far as the hoteliers are concerned, Mariano Rajoy may as well already be prime minister. The Meliá plans for Magalluf are partly dependent on legislative relaxation, and the specific plans Meliá has for the beach would almost certainly require some changes to the Coasts Law.

When it was announced that Meliá wished to "exploit" the beach, a thought which occurred had to do with what the Costas Authority would make of it. This is a body which, while it does, quite rightly, seek to protect the coastal environment, is also the source of obstruction and of much that runs counter to the wishes of the tourism industry.

If a likely change of government were not in the offing, the chances are that Meliá's wishes would have been stamped on from the great height that the Costas has come to assume; or probably, the wishes would never have been made public. Without knowing for sure, one gets the sense that the Costas might find its seemingly all-embracing powers being cut back.

Meliá wants, among other things, to be able to provide temporary moorings next to its hotels. The Mallorca hoteliers federation, very much to the fore in driving a national agenda, wants a change to the Coasts Law which would not only remove any obstacle to Meliá providing its moorings but would also permit other hotels to exploit other beaches for leisure purposes.

The proposal, much as it may make good business sense for the hotels and for the tourism industry, does run up against a difficulty. Essentially, the beaches would be privatised and there has to be a risk, somewhere along the line, that the principle of free public space on the beaches might be endangered.

Where the Costas has been doing a good job is in ensuring this free space. Together with town halls, it has also kept the sea itself free. And by free, one means open and accessible. It is the open to access principle that comes into question if the hotels have their way. With Meliá's moorings, where would they go exactly? Would they in some way impede public use of the sea?

A further factor in the hotels' ambitions for beach exploitation is the Costas' bureaucracy. An aspect of this does badly need to be changed, and it is that which relates to the annual rigmarole that is gone through to establish provisions for beach management and for licensing operations.

The annual bureaucratic procedures have the effect of inhibiting investment. If a beach operator cannot be sure of running a beach from year to year then it is understandably reluctant to commit itself too heavily. Meliá wouldn't, one would imagine, put up with such uncertainty.

If there were to be a relaxation of this bureaucratic burden, it could only be a good thing. It would prevent, one would hope, the kind of delays that have bedevilled beach management operations in Puerto Pollensa, and it might also be hoped that further relaxations would get rid of the nonsensical situation whereby an operator such as Sail and Surf in Puerto Pollensa cannot put out buoys for larger craft out of high season, so restricting its ability to extend the resort's tourism season.

This constraint is another of the Costas' domains, just one that has consistently placed it at loggerheads with business and especially the hotels. In Mallorca, there is an added dimension. The local head of the Costas is Celesti Alomar, the former (socialist) tourism minister who was responsible for the despised eco-tax that the hotels were charged with collecting and which, in some cases, they never handed over.

The Costas locally has brushed up against some heavy hitters, not least in Muro where its interpretation of coastal demarcation and the almost unworkable notion of land that is "influenced by the sea" have threatened hotels' interests. To put it mildly, there is no love lost when it comes to the hotels' attitude towards the Costas.

So now the hotels can sense the opportunity to get the law changed and also bring the Costas down a peg or two. As a protecter, it does a valuable job, but its role as enforcer has created too many enemies. If the law does change and if the Costas finds itself with a diminished role, this may be no bad thing. But would things go too far in the other direction? The privatisation of the beaches and of the water.

Any comments to please.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Indignados return to the streets of Palma

Some ten thousand protesters - the "indignados" organised by the 15-M movement and Democracia Real - took to the streets of Palma yesterday as part of the series of global protests over the economic situation. A festive atmosphere with samba batucadas forming an entertainment kept the mood generally light and there were no reports of trouble.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 October 2011

A much cooler night and a local high of 17 at 08:30. A fair amount of cloud around, mixed in with sun, highs today likely to be similar to yesterday - in the low twenties.

Afternoon update: A warm sun all day but the high has only been 21. Cloud now on the horizon from tomorrow evening and into Tuesday.

Bingo! There's no uncertainty

A listener to "Test Match Special" last year came up with the idea for a game called "Boycott Bingo". This entails calling out "bingo" every time the great man - Sir Geoffrey - utters one of his regular and predictable clichés, e.g. "corridor of uncertainty", "we used to play on uncovered wickets" or "my mum would have caught that in her pinny".

Mallorca has its own version of Boycott Bingo in that bingo illegality crops up as regularly and as predictably as the Great Yorkshireman states that his gran could have "hit that with a stick of rhubarb". One moment it's outdoor games at fiestas being banned because minors are in attendance - bingo!; the next it's some old dears having their games interrupted by the sound of heavy boots - bingo!; then it's a hotel being raided because it's conducting games that it shouldn't be - bingo!

When day centres for the elderly were being raided by plod who suspected - correctly - that the oldsters were up to no good in playing bingo for which there was no licence, all manner of indignation was released. How insensitive. Why stop a little bit of pleasure for the old folk? It was accepted that perhaps it had been a bit heavy-handed. However, it turned out that behind certainly one of the illicit bingo games was something a bit fishy that proved worthy of further investigation.

There is no real uncertainty regarding the playing of bingo. You need a licence. The absence of one may have something to do with plod having pounded down the corridors of a hotel in Sa Coma to put a stop to its bingo. I could always tell you which hotel, but I won't, because it's not been reported elsewhere, so I'd rather not say. But rest assured, keep checking Sa Coma hotels on "Trip Advisor" and there will doubtless be some entry referring to a bingo raid. "I was just about to call 'house', and this policeman took my card away. I shall be complaining to the tour operator."

One difference between the relatively small cerveza of the old folks' day centre bingo games and those in the hotel has to do with the amount of money the latter raise. Two and seven? Twenty-seven. Twenty-seven thousand euros. A month.

If you were to go and look on "Trip Advisor" and choose a hotel on Mallorca, you might well find mention of bingo among the entertainment on offer. Most hotels have games. And are they all correctly licensed? I couldn't begin to answer that question. But the two bingo associations - AESBI and ASBA - have been making repeated representations to relevant authorities regarding the need to "eradicate the large number of illegal bingo games that proliferate" on Mallorca and the other islands.

A couple of days before the raid in Sa Coma, the two associations had in fact presented a proposal for the establishment of electronic bingo terminals in hotels as part of their drive to stamp out illegal games. The proposal may well be greeted favourably, as a "win" would involve a ten per cent tax finding its way into the coffers of the Hacienda.

It will be instructive to see how this all pans out, as Mallorca's hotels, anticipating the likely change of national government, are putting together various proposals of a legal nature for the new Partido Popular administration to chew over.

One of these is to do with the law on intellectual property. This has an impact on the "complementary offer" of entertainment in its widest sense within hotels (of which, incidentally, the electronic bingo terminals would be a new addition, say the bingo associations). It doesn't have to do solely with any rights from musical performances. It also covers television.

Decisions by both the European Court of Justice and the Spanish Supreme Court have led to interpretations that television broadcasts in hotel rooms constitute "public communication" and are therefore liable to rights payments. This is because, for the most part, a cable or satellite signal is re-transmitted by the hotel to the rooms. Were signals to go directly to the rooms (far more costly to set up), then the communication would be private, meaning no broadcast rights payments.

On these two matters, the bingo and the broadcasting, I am with the bingo associations and the police but not with the public communication interpretation; charges are probably passed on for what is made public but is consumed in private. As for bingo, though it is harmless fun, it is fair to ask what actually happens to money that is raised. There is no uncertainty, or shouldn't be. Gaming is either licensed or it isn't.

Any comments to please.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

MALLORCA TODAY - Real Mallorca 1 : 1 Valencia

Joaquín Caparrós's first game in charge as new coach of Mallorca, and one of the tougher assignments he could have faced. And tough it was. Valencia were all over Mallorca in the first half, centre-back Rami putting them in the lead shortly before half time. More positive from Mallorca after the break, Pereira to the fore in particular, efforts on goal coming in, but both teams guilty of some wayward shooting. And then, astonishingly, a handball by Mehmet in the area in time added on, and Hemed, incapable of scoring from open play but deadly from the spot, converted the penalty. 1-1, a bit of a let off for Mallorca, but reward for an improvement in the second period.

Aouate; Zuiverloon (Cendrós 46), Chico, Ramis, Bigas; Pereira, Martí, Castro, Pina (Tejera 68); Hemed, Victor (Alfaro 77)
Goal: Hemed (90+ - penalty)
Yellow: Chico (42); Bigas (68)

Guaita; Bruno, Rami, Victor Ruiz, Jordi Alba; Pablo Hernández, Albelda, Parejo (Mehmet 79), Piatti (Feghouli 62); Canales; Soldado (Aduriz 83)
Goal: Rami (38)
Yellow: Bruno (56); Albelda (75); Mehmet (90+); Feghouli (90+)