Friday, August 31, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Palma airport bar workers to strike

Workers at bars and restaurants operated by the company Áreas at Palma airport are to stage a series of strikes in September and October in protest at a number of complaints the workers have the company. The first days of the strike are planned for 14, 15 and 16 September.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Alcúdia celebrates its tourist day

A report on the tourist day in Alcúdia, staged a week earlier than previously but which suffered from the change in weather, especially windy conditions on the beach.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 31 August 2012

The sea in turmoil, a wind blowing, the skies grey, but no rain. A local high of 23.3 at 7.30 following the arrival of the storms yesterday which circled around the north, gave some thunder but hardly any rain at all. The full force of the storms were in the south with heavy rain and some flooding from Andratx to Palma. The alerts have been downgraded to just the one, that for adverse coastal conditions (which covers anything up to ten miles from the actual coast and can mean the likes of spouts in addition to rough seas). Humidity is down, so doesn't feel stormy, even if the skies suggest otherwise. The outlook is not great, unsettled weather prevailing into next week but temperatures staying very warm.

Afternoon update: A very light shower here and there, but otherwise some sun amidst some cloud. A high of 25.6 in Sa Pobla, so a little lower on the coasts. Yellow alerts for coastal conditions for the next couple of days, but not for storms.

The Ultimate Question Of Mallorcan Life: Celebrities

How many celebrities are there in the UK? Tricky question, huh? One of the more astute answers to the question would be 42. As the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42, and as celebrities are - or appear to be - the ultimate meaning of life, then 42 it has to be. And if 42 is correct, then the ultimate question, which Deep Thought said required an even more powerful computer in order to arrive at the question that would make the answer meaningful, would have to be the one I have asked above.

However, I'm not convinced by my own argument. There are surely more than 42 celebrities. What, therefore, does Google have to say on the subject? Not very much. Someone has had a go at the bigger question of how many celebrities there are in the world, admitting that "it is very difficult to count how many celebrities exist in the world". Nevertheless, he or she has had a go: "If I had to guess, I would say (conservative estimate) that there are literally tens of thousands of celebrities around the world".

Why this guess required the use of "literally" I have no idea, but be that as it may. It's not a particularly good guess, as it is somewhat vague, but one should still applaud this contributor to Wiki Answers for at least making an attempt. Not that this helps with the number of celebrities in the UK. Or perhaps it does. Maybe there are (literally) ten thousand celebrities in the UK. Hmm. I'm still not convinced. There are probably more. It does all rather depend of course.

One difficulty in arriving at an answer, as the Wiki Answers contributor was so incisive in pointing out, lies with how one defines a celebrity. Piers Morgan is at least clear when it comes to the British celebrities who really matter. We can be, as we should always be, immensely grateful to anything Piers offers by way of advancing a body of knowledge, and in the "Daily Mail" a couple of years ago, he identified the 100 celebrities who really matter who aren't Piers Morgan. (Incidentally, what was Piers doing writing in the "Mail"? Has this one-time "Mirror" editor no scruples?)

Two years are a long time in the celebrity world. I doubt that Lily Allen would still be at number 30 on the list, and Amy Winehouse would no longer feature at all. But Piers' fortune 100 list is instructive in providing clues to a question that is even more ultimate than that to do with the number of celebrities in the UK. This is the question as to how many celebrities from the UK have a Mallorcan connection and it is a question which deals with the ultimate meaning of Mallorcan life. There is no other.

So, who have we got? Catherine Zeta-Jones, number 78; Andrew Lloyd Webber (61); Robbie Williams (45); Frank Lampard (39); Jeremy Clarkson (14); Richard Branson (13); Kate Moss (8). And at number one, which is where he will be for now and all eternity, Simon Cowell, who only merits a Mallorcan connection because his sister lives on the island and he once gave ESRA some money for some reason, or something like that.

I daresay that there are others from this invaluable Morgan resource who have graced Mallorca with their celebrity, but of ones I know anything about (and knowing about and caring about are two very different things), the ratio of UK celebrities to Mallorca is 8 in 99 (adjusted because of death) or 7.5 in 99, if one discounts Simon Cowell by 50%. On this basis, and given a total number of UK tourists per annum in the region of two million, there are 150,000 UK celebrities who have a Mallorcan connection. Which is an awful lot of celebrities - literally tens of thousands of them. Can't be right.

The 150,000 might though be the answer to the question about the total number of UK celebrities. Other than those who really matter, there are literally tens of thousands of those who don't: one-time "Grange Hill" child actors; a bloke who once stood in on drums for a Showaddywaddy gig; former British prime ministers and so on. Lord alone knows how many of them make it to Mallorca each year. Though I feel we really ought to be told. Like all the aliens from the galaxy who are wandering around, you just never know when you will stumble across someone  in a bar who used to pull the strings for Pinky and Perky. And if he tells you the answer is 42, then he's pulling your leg.

Any comments to please.

Index for August 2012

Abandoned houses - 11 August 2012
All-inclusives - 2 August 2012
Attractions: problems they face - 8 August 2012
August madness - 16 August 2012
British seaside resorts and Mallorca - 23 August 2012
Celebrities - 3 August 2012, 31 August 2012
David Cameron's holiday - 15 August 2012, 26 August 2012
Diversity of British tourism - 17 August 2012
Fiesta posters - 1 August 2012
Gran Scala and Mallorcan projects - 12 August 2012
Holiday let debate - 29 August 2012, 30 August 2012
Hotel conversion - 24 August 2012
Hotel occupancy figures are misleading - 27 August 2012
IVA rise and problems to follow - 10 August 2012
Iván Ramis transfer to Wigan - 5 August 2012
Kitesurfing - 19 August 2012
Presstrips and promotion - 22 August 2012
Problem at Pollensa Bay - 7 August 2012
Rapper and death threats - 14 August 2012
Regatta in Alcúdia - 4 August 2012
Russian tourism - 13 August 2012
Spain and the Olympics - 6 August 2012
Spanish tourism overseas - 20 August 2012
Tourism, marketing and illegal lets - 9 August 2012
Tourism: press treatment - 28 August 2012
Town halls and spending on facilities - 21 August 2012
Trip Advisor and tourist malevolence - 18 August 2012
Waiters - 25 August 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Can Morató demolition raised with UNESCO

The Alternativa per Pollença, already in contact with UNESCO's Spanish representative, has said that it will denounce to UNESCO a decision to remove protected status from the old Can Morató carpet factory in Pollensa which would lead to it being demolished.

UNESCO's involvement is on account of the factory falling within the Tramuntana region that has World Heritage Site status from UNESCO. If Can Morató were to be demolished, it is suggested, the boundary of this site could be affected.

The town hall insists that the factory, built in 1922 but abandoned since 1960, is in a state which cannot enable its renovation and restoration.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 30 August 2012

No sign of the forecasted storms and rain. Clear, sunny and a coastal high of 25 at 8am. Likely to all kick off later on though, the alerts for rain and storms in place for today and the same for tomorrow plus adverse coastal atmospheric conditions.

Afternoon update: Here come the storms. The weather satellite shows dense cloud over Mallorca at 18.00, followed by another load. Heavy rainfalls.

The Dumbing Silence Of A Strange Season

Stranger and stranger. As "Ultima Hora" put it: "the logical extrapolation from the flow of visitors to the island has been (increased) hotel occupancy rates". Passenger traffic at Palma's Son Sant Joan airport was at a record level in July. Just under 3.5 million passengers does not mean 3.5 million people arriving to have a holiday, but it is still a significant movement of human traffic (and I feel I need to correct a letter to "The Bulletin" which suggested that the number was 22.7 million; this was the figure for the whole of the AENA airport network in July).

Increased passenger numbers will logically lead to increased occupancy and, as I have pointed out, July had exceptionally high levels of hotel occupancy. August's occupancy levels are likely to be lower than July's, though around the average (as I have also pointed out).

Confronted with record airport numbers, record occupancy levels (in July) and the most profitable high season since 2007, what has the Mallorcan hoteliers federation been telling us? That there is a broken economy. Doesn't sound like it, but not to worry; spin can keep spinning. The season, the federation now says, has been "strange", though it is not anything like as strange as the bizarre doublespeak that emanates from the hoteliers and the dumbness of the local press.

This is the final part of a tetralogy of articles, themes of which have been the hotels' manipulation of information, press incuriosity in challenging such information and the absence of genuine debate as to issues which do not accord with the vision of tourism that the hotels (and regional government) would prefer. One knows already of course how record levels of airport passengers are explained away. Not by surprisingly high July occupancy figures (because these would not chime with the notion of a broken economy) but by all the very naughty tourists who are booking into apartments they shouldn't be booking into.

While there is an absence of genuine debate, it is wrong to assume that there aren't some organisations knocking around who take issue with the hotel-centric philosophy of tourism. The problem they have, however, is that their views get lost or ignored or that these views become subordinate to self-interest.

In Menorca and Ibiza/Formentera there are associations for "viviendas vacacionales", i.e. holiday homes. The Menorcan association, via the small to medium-sized business association on the island, lobbied for an amendment to the tourism law which would have liberalised holiday lets. They wanted any accommodation to be made available, legally, for holiday let purposes, which is the direction that Catalonia is moving in. Menorcan businesses, and not only the association for holiday homes, had pleaded for this liberalisation because of the particular savaging Menorca has experienced at the hands of the devil's work of tourism - all-inclusives and ever more pronounced seasonality.

What happened? Well, nothing of course. No one took any notice and apart from the reporting of the business association's lobby for an amendment, little more was said in the local (Mallorcan) press. The Menorcans were distinctly miffed by there having been no recognition of their plight in the new tourism law.

In Ibiza and Formentera a similar association for holiday homes wasn't so miffed. Indeed, it "applauded" the new law. It was "sympathetic" to the same demand that the Menorcans had been making, but it supported a law that has established a framework whereby owners of holiday homes (villas and houses and not apartments) can become businesses. So here was an association which adopted a sort of I'm all right Jack approach on behalf of owners who could let their properties in any event, hence the whiff of self-interest at the expense of apartment owners.

In Mallorca there are two associations for holiday homes, both headquartered in Pollensa, a town with a massive reliance on the rental of private accommodation to tourists. Back in January they had been making their fears regarding the new law known, but once again they were no more than just reported. The town's mayor took up their cause but could get no movement from the government.

The point is that, and notwithstanding the somewhat self-serving attitude in Ibiza, there are organisations out there who have a different view to the dominant hotel-centric philosophy. But when are their voices ever heard? Really heard, as in their being brought into a genuine debate.

They aren't heard and they probably never will be. Not, that is, while the media is as compliant as it is in swallowing the constant arguments released by the all-powerful hoteliers. The whole debate, not that there really is one, just gets stranger and stranger.

Any comments to please.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Son Serra pier expansion opposed

The regional government has approved the expansion of the pier at the yacht club in Son Serra de Marina, provoking further opposition from local politicians. (The expansion has long been opposed.) The expansion is opposed because of the destruction of posidonia sea grass that would occur and which would go against European Union rules on marine protection.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Lower grape harvest anticipated

High temperatures and a lack of rain are likely to mean 30% lower grape production as the harvest gets underway. However, according to one of Mallorca's leading bodegas, Macia Batle, the weather conditions will also mean wine of high quality. So, never mind the quantity, taste the quality, I guess.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 29 August 2012

Like yesterday, a 24 high at 7.45. Humid. To reiterate the afternoon update from yesterday, yellow alerts are out for high temperatures today and for storms tomorrow. The outlook has changed through the weekend and into next week, things appearing unsettled with increased risks of rain. Remaining very warm though.

Afternoon update: 36.1 in Sa Pobla today, quite a bit cooler on the coasts at 31 or so. The forecast is now showing all sorts of alerts - rain and storms tomorrow; rain, storms and adverse coastal conditions on Friday with wind (northerly) picking up tomorrow. The weekend looks a bit better, but the outlook is unsettled right into next week. 

Strangling Debate: Illegal accommodation

In 2004, a debate about illegal accommodation was broadcast on Mallorca's Canal 4. Those participating in the debate were the secretary-general of the Spanish travel agencies association, the secretary-general of the Mesa del Turismo (a body now comprising some thirty businesses in the tourism sector), the regional government's director-general of tourism regulation, and the presidents of both the Mallorcan and the Ibizan hoteliers federations. 

The debate was organised by the tourism magazine "Hosteltur" and was subsequently reported on in the magazine. It is the only meaningful example I can find (or easily find, at any rate) of a discussion about the so-called "ofterta ilegal" in the local Spanish media. Though the report that is now available is only short, what is clear is that all parties to this debate seemed to favour one side of the argument. It doesn't sound like it was much of a debate.

The history of effective legislation in the Balearics against illegal accommodation goes back to 1998. The Partido Popular government of Jaume Matas introduced what was described then as the most comprehensive legislation in Spain. The most complete and the most perfect, said one of the debate's participants. Between 1998 and the debate that took place in 2004 and also since 2004, little has changed in legislative terms, except for provisions in 2007 which required rental property to be registered as either for holiday or long-term residential purposes and which expressly excluded private apartments from being registered for holiday rental. The 2012 law is really no more than a confirmation, with some bells and whistles, of the 1998 legislation.

What also hasn't changed since 2004 is the lack of balance and the lack of logic that constitute the debate. As now, the focus was very much on the hoteliers' arguments regarding unfair competition from holiday lets, and the debate also considered the problems caused by the property boom that Mallorca had been experiencing. This had led to the purchase of apartments (and other accommodation) which were being rented out illegally. What had also happened, alongside the property boom, was a marked increase in the number of tourists coming to Mallorca and the Balearics; between 1991 and 2001, the number of tourists arriving annually in the Balearics rose by 3.7 million.

In the same period, the number of hotels and regulated tourist apartments in the Balearics increased by just over 100 establishments, representing a rise in the number of places of 12,000. What is interesting is that while the number of hotels increased, the number of regulated tourist apartments decreased. At the same time, however, the level of tourist stays in unregulated accommodation rose by a factor of almost 400%; in 2001, it stood at roughly a quarter of that in regulated hotels and apartments. 

Though the number of hotels increased during 1991 and 2001, the building of new hotels effectively came to an end by the middle of the 1990s. Since then, there has been little new hotel building; as an example, in Alcúdia only one new hotel has been built this century.

The 2004 debate, therefore, implied that the hotel sector had been disadvantaged by restrictions on new building, while it was more explicit in attributing the dramatic rise in illegal accommodation to the property boom. What was peculiar about the debate was that the dramatic rise in tourism, brought about by both the increase in hotels and private accommodation in the 1990s, didn't seem to be something to celebrate.

Some of the unregulated accommodation did become regulated. Josep Aloy, who was the director-general of tourism regulation, spoke in 2004 of the need to ensure that everything was done to ensure that accommodation was legalised, but his words gave the game away with regard to what sort of accommodation should be regularised: "it should not be about banning anyone from renting his house to tourists". House, not apartment. The upshot of this was the 2007 registration.

The debate about illegal accommodation, where there is one - and it isn't in the Spanish media - hasn't moved on from 2004. It is still concerned with unfair competition faced by hotels and it is still deprived of the presence of any voice which might present a meaningful counter argument. In 2004, the participants were all singing from a similar hymn sheet. Presented with this conformity of view, it is perhaps unsurprising that the local media follows this conformity in neglecting to consider the alternative view.

I hadn't intended putting together a series of articles, but this is what has happened as it becomes clearer the extent to which one side of the debate is strangled by the monopoly on opinion created by the hoteliers.

Any comments to please.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Was Austrian balcony fall death murder?

The parents of the seventeen-year-old Austrian youth, Andreas K., who fell to his death from a sixth floor balcony at a hotel in Playa de Palma earlier this month, believe that he was murdered. The German paper "Bild" has reported their suspicions, aroused by facts such as his mobile phone bill having soared to 1,000 euros after he died.

See more: El Mundo

MALLORCA TODAY - The giant pumpkin of Alcúdia

The autumn fair in Alcúdia in October will feature a pumpkin of 135 kilos, grown by an Alcúdia resident, Tomeu Fornés., who explains here how the pumpkin came to be so big. He is anticipating making marmalade from it.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 28 August 2012

24 degrees the local high at 7.45. Sun all the way with temperatures up to 34, a similar forecast in place for tomorrow and Thursday, but Friday is due to bring cloud, getting heavier over the weekend and the chance of rain.

Afternoon update: Back to very hot. 35.7 inland and 33.5 on the coasts have been the highs. That old yellow alert is out again for high temperatures. But then .... a yellow alert on Thursday for storms. On Friday, it could be very windy and stormy. 

Emotional Investment: Not understanding tourists

What is the press's view of Mallorca's tourism; the local press's view, that is? It is a question I ask as a follow-up to yesterday's article in which I referred to an unquestioning complicity with regard to announcements from sources such as the hoteliers.

By local press, I mean the Spanish (or Catalan) press. And by tourism, it is necessary to identify what the local press deems important. When I spoke of a lack of questioning of figures issued by the hoteliers federation, along with its headliner of a "broken" economy, the local press is only too happy to swallow the line, as it fits with one element of what it considers to be important, namely the economic significance of tourism.

This much is to be expected. Local media is naturally concerned about an issue as fundamentally important as tourism and its contribution to the local economy, yet this fundamental importance does not translate into a real press examination of tourism, one that actually includes tourists. If one takes a different announcement, that of the contents of the new tourism law, there has been considerable discussion in the press, but it has been largely confined to one aspect of the law, namely hotel conversion and the modernisation of hotel stock.

Such press concentration reinforces the hotel-centric perspective that dominates the debate surrounding Mallorca's tourism. The hoteliers' "broken economy" statement is just another example of this. This "hotelism" is, therefore, synonymous with tourism, and tourism is synonymous with property and ultimately economics.

The hotels are content for this to be the case. In an ideal world, where the hotels are concerned, there would be a standard model for Mallorca's tourism, one, the hotels would argue, that is the most efficient model and the one that generates the greatest economic benefit. It would be a model with the hotel firmly (and only, probably) at its centre.

Because the hotels, and the regional government for that matter, constantly reinforce this implication of a standard model and its economic benefit, the press, mainly interested in the outcome of tourism (the economic benefit and employment), fails to look beyond the mechanics of tourism. The polemic, therefore, is about tourism as a process rather than about tourists, and the new tourism law reflects just this.

What has been striking about recent local press coverage is the almost total absence of any discussion regarding matters which are of importance to tourists and also to the expatriate community. All-inclusive hotels are not ignored by the local press but there is little that really challenges them, other than not infrequent, unqualified reporting of opposition and protest. The issue of holiday lets is almost completely ignored, other than to make reference - and it has a tendency to sound dutiful - to the "oferta ilegal".

This is not an issue which doesn't affect Mallorcan people as well as expatriate owners and tourists, but, and unlike "The Bulletin", the Spanish press seems to have little interest in it. One can only assume that this is because of the hotel-centric perspective which pervades tourism debate. If I am doing a disservice by saying that there has been an absence of discussion, then I can only apologise, but I have looked for its presence and drawn a blank.

Tourists and expatriates are interested in matters other than all-inclusives and holiday lets, of course they are, but the two subjects are representative of a different perspective, one that arises from not just financial investment (in holidays or homes) but also emotional investment. If this emotional investment is disregarded or not appreciated, then the tourism debate is reduced to the mechanics of tourism, which is exactly how the debate is generally presented and which is therefore incomplete, wrongheaded and myopic. 

Tourists differ between those who are here today and gone tomorrow and those who, even if not regular visitors, form an attachment and a sense of psychological ownership. This emotional investment should not be underestimated, as it has been strengthened by the ease in which information about and images of Mallorca, and the volume of both, can be relayed.

I use the issues of all-inclusives and holiday lets as examples, but they are good examples as they bring out emotion, whether for or against, and are therefore indicative of the emotion that is invested in Mallorca. But, as a consequence of "hotelism" and the support it appears to derive from the local press, this is an investment which seems misunderstood or not understood at all. Without an understanding of emotional investment, tourists, and therefore tourism, cannot be understood.

Any comments to please.

Monday, August 27, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Poverty in the Balearics above national average

A study by researchers at the Universitat de les Illes Balears places poverty levels in the Balearics at 23.4% of all homes, almost three points above the national average and an increase of over seven points since 2007.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 August 2012

A fresher morning, temperatures between 19 and 23 in the area at 7.45. Fine clear sunny morning, quite humid though, but no sign of the storm that the met office suggested might head towards the Balearics. The revised outlook for the first part of the week is good but cloud building up from Thursday and into the weekend.

Afternoon update: And the hot weather continues. 32.8 inland in Sa Pobla; a coastal high of 31.9. 

When Broken Isn't Broken: Hotel occupancy

I have lost patience with the Mallorcan Hoteliers Federation. Lost patience with its propaganda, its dissembling, its hyperbole. Lost patience as well with the apparent complicity of much of the media which accepts the federation's announcements without question, does not challenge them and draws inaccurate conclusions, which is what the federation's announcements are presumably intended to achieve.

The other day, the president of the federation stated that "we're talking about a broken economy" if hotel occupancy in August is not 100%. This is the hyperbole for you, a dissembling without reference to historical fact, and propaganda to support the special pleading that constantly comes out of the federation. To talk of 100% occupancy is total garbage. Way back when, in the days of less competition, 100% occupancy may have occurred (though I doubt it), but since the turn of the century it hasn't. If we are indeed talking about a broken economy, then it has been broken for an awfully long time. The dissembling is made worse because the hoteliers are fully aware as to historical information; they provide it.

It is easy to find this information. The problem is, or appears to me to be a problem, that no one bothers to look for it and to use it as a means of challenging the federation's conclusions. Except me, it would seem. The information is contained in the regional government's "tourism observatory" that is openly available on its website. Information for Mallorca's occupancy is part of the metadata gathered by the Spanish National Statistics Office (INE), also openly available via the internet.

For the peak months of July and August from 2001 to 2011, 22 separate months therefore, on only six occasions has hotel occupancy in Mallorca been 90% or higher (the six occasions were all in August - 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2011). In 2009, August occupancy wasn't 90%, it wasn't even 80%; it was 79.3%. Why? Simple. Crisis had taken hold big time. Last year's August occupancy was the highest this century: 93.2%. Why? Simple. The Arab spring effect.

The federation's so-called broken economy is a conclusion derived from what is anticipated will be an August occupancy figure of around 90%. The information for August won't be definitively known until later, but if we accept 90%, then, yes, it is a fall compared with last year, but last year was an exception; it was 4.1% higher than the August average of 89.1% since 2001. If "around 90%" happens to end up being the occupancy for this August, then it will have been a normal August; possibly better than the average in fact.

August's occupancy figures are one thing. What of July's? Last year, thanks to the Arab spring, occupancy was 89.9%, the highest since 2001 and way above the average of 84.1% between 2001 and 2011. But what happened this July? INE's data tells us that not only did the Balearics have the highest occupancy in Spain, it was also at a level of 90.4%. For Mallorca, the figure was higher still - 91.7%. This July, therefore, hotel occupancy exceeded 90% for the first time this century.

The federation's broken economy soundbite cannot be substantiated. Occupancy is either better (in July) than usual or at a similar level (in August) to the average. 100% is, in any event, a virtual impossibility. Some resorts may get close but this is all they do. It would be nice if there were 100% occupancy in both July and August, but it would never happen and could never happen. The pattern of occupancy across the island varies according to resort popularity, tour operator activity and levels of hotel supply. 100% for the island as a whole, therefore, is unrealistic.

The hoteliers, however, play a game of propaganda. They set the situation up (40% of tourists in illegal accommodation, for example) and follow up with figures they know are more or less representative yet which can imply under-occupancy, the cause of which is market imbalance, e.g. the illegal accommodation. Which is further garbage. Tourists who want to stay in a hotel will stay in a hotel. Tourists who don't want to stay in a hotel won't stay in a hotel. End of.

I have lost patience but I do have some sympathy because of the lack of a winter season. The statistics since 2001 don't make good reading. In 2001, the best year, January and February occupancy was, respectively, 52.8% and 71%. This year, it was 40% and 52.7%. The sympathy evaporates, though, thanks to the special pleading and the misleading information, both of which are compounded by a media which, for whatever reason, does not appear to question.

Any comments to please.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - More abuses by AENA claimed by Palma air-traffic controllers

The air-traffic controllers are really cranking up the propaganda war, alleging that AENA, the airports authority, has been using an agreement whereby controllers can be called in to cover emergencies to the extent that it has become almost standard practice caused, not by excessive staff absence but by a lack of staff. In addition, it is said that AENA changed shifts of two controllers without giving the necessary month's notice that was agreed when the two sides went to arbitration last year.

It might be remembered that the arbitration resulted from the strike by controllers in Spain in December 2010, a dispute which has not been fully resolved by the legal system as there are outstanding cases against named controllers to be finally judged and which carry the possibility of lengthy prison sentences.

See more: El Mundo

MALLORCA TODAY - Palma air-traffic controllers threaten closure of control tower

Air-traffic controllers at Palma airport could bring the airport to a standstill in September if demands regarding shifts and days off are not met by the airports authority AENA. The next weeks would appear to be crucial in the relationship between the two sides that has been deteriorating, the controllers having denounced AENA to the employment ministry and threatening the "immediate paralysing" of work.

See more: El Mundo

MALLORCA TODAY - Senyera accompanies Santa Margalida hay festival

The "festa del batre" (literally the festival of beating) was revived last year as part of Santa Margalida's La Beata fiestas. It was a former tradition to highlight the town's agriculture and specifically the harvesting of hay. It is a most welcome revival as the townspeople dress up in traditional farming attire to head off for the "batre" and then have a party in the town. This year, to give added political flavour, the "senyera" flag (that of the old Kingdom of Aragon) accompanied the harvesters.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Body of Scottish tourist found in Magalluf sea

A 27-year-old Scottish tourist has drowned in the sea at Magalluf, having gone swimming while drunk two nights ago. The Guardia Civil has established that he became separated from companions and seemingly decided to go skinny-dipping on his way back to the hotel but unfortunately drowned.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Malaga 1 : 1 Real Mallorca

A good and hardworked away point for Mallorca, Malaga having dominated most of the first half and then also the second until Hemed, continuing his early-season goal rush, headed in from Nsue's assist. Mallorca sat back, as they had for most of the game, and Malaga were able to equalise through Juanmi. A conservative approach from coach Caparrós, which may just have been too conservative.

Caballero; Sánchez, Demichelis, Weligton, Monreal; Camacho, Duda; Portillo, Isco (Joaquín 84), Buananotte (Eliseu 69); Fernández (Juanmi 69) 
Goal: Juanmi (77)
Yellows: Demichelis (74), Duda (88)

Aouate; Ximo, Nunes, Bigas, López; Pina, Márquez (Joao Victor 62); Nsue (Charlie 78), Pereira; Victor, Hemed (Alfaro 81) 
Goal: Hemed (67)
Yellows: Márquez (43), Victor (58), Pina (83), Aouate (90)

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 August 2012

The sea was kicking up a fuss overnight, so it was clear that change was afoot. Quite blowy this morning, highs around 24 at 8am, some fairly dark cloud as well as sun, the cloud due to clear so that by the afternoon things should be fine, with the outlook for the week also fine. Just a slight chance of precipitation today, the unsettled morning may scupper the typical Sunday picnics on the beaches.

Afternoon update: A fresher day. Good breeze on the beach. Plenty of people as the cloud went away. Afternoon highs of 27.5. The outlook, however, has changed. The met office says that temperatures will start to fall this week. There are likely to be storms overnight on the mainland that could extend to the Balearics. 

Project - The Prime Minister's Summer Holiday

It is a day back in April. The place is an office at 10 Downing Street. On the door to the office is a notice announcing the meeting that is taking place: "Project - The Prime Minister's Summer Holiday". Gathered in the office are a number of the PM's special advisors. Their task, to decide where the PM will be going on holiday.

"Right, everyone, first things first. We can dispense with the idea that the PM will be taking his summer holiday anywhere in Britain. I am well aware of the campaign to encourage the electorate to stay at home this summer, but the PM has made it perfectly clear that he has no wish to be traipsing across the Scilly Isles with a pipe in his mouth or doing a Brown and wandering about in a suit in Kirkcaldy. Besides which, he can afford to go abroad. So, the question is where. I suggest we begin by brainstorming some of the requirements."

"A happening sort of place, but not too happening. Shouldn't be overly trendy or chic." "Popular with the British. Good for showing he's in touch." "Family oriented. Reinforces the PM's family values." "Can't be too far away. You know, in case he has to dash back. The Queen pegging it or something." 

"Good points. Sounds like it'll have to Europe then. The PM will just have to lump it." "Not France. Bloody Sarkozy. He probably won't be around come August, but it would be toadying to go there." "How about Turkey? Supportive of Turkey's wishes to join the EU." "Do we have a policy on Turkey and the EU anymore? It was Straw who used to bang on about that. No political capital in going to Turkey. Plus the Muslim thing. "The Mail" wouldn't like it." "Greece then." "You're joking. PM's holiday bails out Greeks. Another "Mail" headline disaster." "Italy?" "Not bloody likely. Blair. Tuscany." "It doesn't leave much else then. Looks like it has to be Spain. Again." "Again?" "Yep. The PM went to Ibiza last year." "Ibiza! Whose idea was that? The PM in Drugs Central. No, no, no, we can't let him go there again." "I think it would come down to either Benidorm or Mallorca then." "The PM can't go to Benidorm. Who do you think he is? Johnny Vegas?" "All right, so it's Mallorca."

"Can't be Magalluf. Don't want the PM falling off a balcony." "Good God no. There's being in touch and there's being in touch. It has to be somewhere with a degree of refinement. The north is meant to be the part to go to. What do the Foreign Office's reports of resorts in northern Mallorca tell us?" "Erm, ok, there's a place called Alcúdia. Blah, blah, blah. Popular with Brits. Good. Oh, also popular with Germans. Sometimes compared with Blackpool." "Heavens, that's no good. What's this place? Puerto Poll-en-sa." "It's pronounced Poy-en-sa. Popular with British expatriates. Profile of these expatriates, average age 75, 98% Conservative voters (where permitted). Plus, it goes on, popular also with British families who wish to avoid Germans and riff-raff. Bingo. I think we've found our holiday. Bit of snob appeal. It'll play well with "The Telegraph" at any rate."

"This thing with its name. It's also called Port de Poy-en-ça. Looks French to me with this cedilla business. Are we sure it's ok?" "Yea, there's a sort of Welsh thing going on there apparently." "What? Port de Pollença is Welsh? There are two l's." "No, no, everything has to be in two languages. This one, it's, what do you call it? The one that isn't Spanish?" "Catalan?" "That's the kiddy." "Hmm, should the PM have a view on this then?" "I doubt it would crop up. But to be safe, we can always dig out a Catalan CD with a few key phrases for the PM to learn. Hello, how are you? I'm the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Could I have two pints of lager and a bag of crisps, please? That sort of thing." "Might it not be simpler for the PM to avoid both Spanish and Catalan. We don't want him offending anyone. Much better that he speaks English. More in touch with British tourists as well, as none of them speak the lingo." "Absolutely. Right then, all that remains is booking the flights." "Er, might I remind you? The low-cost flight thing." "Oh God, I forgot all about that. Come on then, someone volunteer to ring O'Leary and sort the excess luggage out with him. How much is this going to cost us? I wish the PM wouldn't insist on taking a holiday abroad."

Any comments to please.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Puerto Alcúdia complaints about sewer floods

Residents in a part of Puerto Alcúdia have raised, not for the first time, the problem with drainage that can lead to inundation of homes with sewage and rainwater. The area affected is that near to where the canal leads into the sea. The town hall is asking for patience as it seeks a solution to a problem which has existed for years.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 August 2012

At 7.15 temperatures between 21 and 24.5. High humidity this morning. Clear but likely to be some cloud about during the day and tomorrow. Staying hot at 30C or more, though the alerts, either yellow or orange, are no longer in place.

Afternoon update: Generally lower temperatures today. An inland high of 33.2 in Sa Pobla, the coastal highs have been between 30 and 32.

Waiter, There's Some Soup In My Lap

I became acquainted with Magnus Pyke during my shortlived career as a waiter. You must all remember the good Pyke, the mad television scientist who was prone to flailing his arms around erratically and with great enthusiasm. 

To be strictly accurate, my first acquaintance with Pyke was not with him as such but with one of his wayward arms. He was the Secretary of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and during one summer break, the association held its annual conference at my university. Which is where the career as a waiter comes into the story, as also does Magnus Pyke's arm.

Had I thought that his arm-waving was anything more than a characteristic with which to give him increased television recognition, I would probably have avoided his table and left the serving duties to some other sucker. Alas, as I was to discover, Pyke's arms windmilled in real life to a similar extent as they did on the telly.

If I tell you that my acquaintance with Magnus Pyke involved his whirling appendages, a tray with a bowl of soup (mercifully not that hot) and a lady with a long blue dress who was next to him, then you can probably guess where this story is heading. Put it this way, the soup did not head in the direction that it should have done and in the manner it should have done: onto the table and still in the bowl.

There was of course a frightful commotion and even greater amounts of arms being waved. It was at this point that Magnus Pyke elevated himself into hero status in my estimation. He took full and total responsibility for the incident, absolved me completely and even went so far as to invite me to some special function (drinks included) at which I made sure I was some distance from him.

Anyway, that's my Magnus Pyke story, and you are probably wondering what it has to do with anything. Well, the anything is the role of the waiter in modern tourism society. Discuss.

Waiters (and waitresses for that matter) come in different guises, be they serving in establishments as diverse as the Brit bar, the pizzeria-grill-international restaurant, the pretentious-cuisine restaurant or the hotel. But regardless of the type of establishment, the waiter is the same. He is a mobile ordering, delivery and recycling system. This is basically all he is. Under the old ASME symbol scheme for depicting processes in a work system, his functions would primarily be denoted by the arrow for transportation: from kitchen to table and back again.

Given this elementary process, why do bars and restaurants bother with humans? Robots could surely do waiters' jobs just as effectively, so long as they weren't of the "Lost In Space" robot variety (a Class M-3 Model B9) and could outdo Magnus Pyke in the arm-waving stakes. "Warning, warning, stupid customer at table eight!"

Attractive as robot waiters might seem, they wouldn't be blessed with especially good interactive communication skills, save for being able to input the order command and then regurgitate it by way of confirmation. "One. Steak. Well. Done. With. Chips. No. Salad." And it is really this, the communication, which distinguishes, or should, the human from the robot waiter, along with certain other characteristics, such as personality. The waiter is, to use business-speak, at the front line of the customer encounter, or customer interface, if you really must. It is why the waiter is, therefore, a crucial part of not only a restaurant's business but the whole tourism experience.

In the Murcian town of Los Alcázares, the town hall has come up with a course for waiters. It is entitled "The waiter: an important tourist agent". The course comprises four modules, one of which is "tourist sensibility", which means something along the lines of understanding the tourist.

You would think, or I would, that working as a waiter in a tourist area, a waiter would have such a sensibility, but this isn't always the case. Far from it. But there are plenty of waiters as well as bar and restaurant owners who do possess this sensibility. For some, it has been acquired through years of experience. For others, and this is surely the key to a good waiter and/or bar owner, it just comes naturally. It shouldn't really require training.

Yet even the good waiter, the one to whom serving, communicating, being pleasant, chatty, interested, helpful and so on all come without a second thought, can be undone by the unexpected. If a tourist with wild, flailing arms comes into the bar, just watch out.

Any comments to please.

Friday, August 24, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Appeal against Can Picafort beach management award

The award of the concession to manage Can Picafort beaches this summer is still causing a fuss. It was back in March that the award to Bernart Riutort was made, despite the tender having been lodged seven minutes after the deadline and despite also opposition from town hall technical staff. The company that lost out, Boom Boom Muro, has now raised a further appeal against Santa Margalida town hall's decision, considering that there were irregularities with the award.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 August 2012

Early temperatures ranging from 20 to 25 on what will be another scorching day, a yellow alert, so a downgrade of yesterday's orange. The weekend will remain hot, though there is due to be a slight fall in the temperature. Into next week, sunny and still hot.

Afternoon update: The high today has been in Pollensa (36.8) with coastal temperatures generally three degrees or more lower except in what are the typically hotter coastal areas on Alcúdia bay in the Can Picafort/Colonia area, where the highs have been up to 36. Tomorrow may now have more cloud than previously forecast, and while the temperatures will fall this weekend, they are set to rise once more next week.

Conversion At Fault: Changing hotels

The hoteliers' federation has been meeting with Mallorca's leading banks. There are no prizes for guessing what the federation is after.

The regional government's new tourism act, welcome though much of it is, has some serious fault lines running through it. And these fault lines are such that they end up coming together to make an even wider fault line. The new law has an absence of joined-up thinking, but unintentional joins can still be made which really shouldn't be there, and wouldn't be if the government had displayed a bit more common sense.

The federation has gone to the banks with cap in hand to ask for finance for 52 change-of-use projects that have so far been identified by its member hoteliers; one shouldn't dismiss the possibility that this number will rise. The banks are said to have taken the request on board and are supportive of such initiatives in the tourism sector.

The banks would probably say this anyway, but when it comes to handing over the cheques, how supportive might they still be? As the different projects haven't been identified, one can't say for sure which hotel groups would need bank finance, but one could make a good guess; they probably wouldn't include the larger chains which are well capitalised and would already have plenty of lines open for credit or investment were they to need them.

Predominantly, they will be the smaller hotel groups (the federation has said as much) and it is their difficulties in raising finance for hotel conversion that exposes one of the law's fault lines. The act makes provision for conversion, but conversion will be awkward because of the lack of credit in the banking system. These smaller hotel groups are not necessarily blessed with holding huge assets by way of collateral, which wouldn't be the case with the larger chains. Consequently, the banks will need some convincing.

An option for conversion is that to residential use. This would mean the loss of a hotel, but for the smaller hotel chain it might be a loss worth bearing if it were able to realise value from its asset. The main problem with this, and so therefore a further fault line, is the state of the property market. Sales are down and values of property are down, quite markedly in some instances. Conversion of hotels to apartments of a minimum size of 90 square metres would simply add to a supply for which there isn't the demand and for which there is unlikely to be the demand in the foreseeable future.

So, what do the banks do? Take a risk and potentially end up with more debt on their books because the converted properties can't be sold? Hotel conversion could well lead to a type of property bubble, but without the rise in values, while at the same time making it even harder for other owners to shift property because of an increase in supply, engineered by a tourism law and not a property law. The attractiveness of conversion as a solution to hotel obsolescence becomes less attractive when the realities of the marketplace kick in.

The government has issued the tourism bill in English, German and Russian, hoping that by doing so investors from overseas will be attracted, and one thing they may be attracted to is a hotel that can be converted into real estate for sale. Foreign investors might mean a hotel group not having to avail itself of bank finance for the conversion, but the investor would be confronted by the same problem of supply and demand.

The further fault line in the law, and this is where the fault lines come together, is that to do with illegal accommodation. Why would someone want to buy an apartment in a tourist area? Would they want to live in it? Some would, but many would not. I imagine you can see where this is heading, but if not, then the government has created an inherent obstacle with one aspect its own law to facilitating and making a success of another aspect. The threat of legal action over privately owned apartments being made available for holiday purposes undermines the aims of modernisation and conversion. It doesn't make sense.

One wonders if the smaller hotel chains are going to wise up to the problem, though one can probably imagine that they already have and were well aware of  the issue prior to the law being approved. The law has been called a law for the hotels. Increasingly, it is looking like a law for the large hotel groups. Because they don't have the same problems.

Any comments to please.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Small businesses may use Can Picafort's industrial estate

The industrial estate in Can Picafort, which currently has only half its capacity occupied, can now be the location for small businesses, Santa Margalida town hall having lifted a requirement as to the minimum size for units on the estate.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 August 2012

Not as oppressive overnight and quite a fresh feel at 07.30, temperatures varying across the area between 20 and 25. The orange alert for today means some very high values, so 40 is quite possible in some parts. The outlook still suggests very hot weather, though there is meant to be a drop in temperatures on Sunday and just a slight chance of a shower.

Afternoon update: Well, not necessarily as hot as had been anticipated. Sa Pobla has knocked in a 39.5 high, but the coastal areas have varied between 30 and 35.

From Morecambe To Mallorca

Morecambe, Eastbourne, Minehead, Southend. I have been to each of them, though of the four I am most familiar with Morecambe. I lived there while I was at university, and during this time, I almost froze to death, was blown off my feet by a gale and used to head for the hills when Scottish Fortnight descended on the resort.

Paul Theroux, writing in "The Kingdom By The Sea" in 1983, said of Morecambe that he was astonished "that anyone would come here for a vacation and to have fun, since it seemed the sort of place that would fill even the cheeriest visitor with thoughts of woe". Theroux, an American, admitted, however, that he was "incapable of surmounting" the cultural barrier that enabled holidaymakers to enjoy themselves even in the drizzle, of which there was a great deal if my memory serves. 

Morecambe and the other aforementioned British seaside resorts were listed recently among ten old-fashioned seaside towns by "The Guardian". It is difficult to know when Morecambe wasn't old-fashioned, as it was antediluvian even back in the seventies. There again, all British seaside resorts were, with the exception of Brighton.

Southend I can remember only vaguely, but it holds a place in my family history as it was the seaside town that East Enders would go to. I have a photo from the 1920s in which my grandmother and another young woman were done up in Roaring Twenties-style finery, parading on Southend pier, arms linked with a short, fat bloke with a boater who looked as though he was a music-hall turn but who was in fact a butcher from East Ham.

The pier is significant, as the pier was also significant in other seaside resorts. It was the centre of entertainment; indeed, it was the centrepoint of these towns. The pier and the British seaside resort have of course never been the same, ever since the sixties and seventies saw the traditional holidaymaker being taken away from the traditional seaside holiday in order to found a new tradition - the Mallorcan seaside holiday.

There is a misconception, and always has been a misconception, that some of Mallorca's resorts were merely traditional British seaside resorts exported to the Mediterranean and given the one thing that the British seaside couldn't usually offer - the sun. There is an element of truth to this, but only an element. Yes, there were and are fish and chips, but what of the traditions and characteristics of the British seaside? Where is there a pier, for example? One with bingo and slot machines and dire comedians. Where are the fish stalls of a Southend or a Hastings with their whelks and their jellied eels? Where are the bandstands in the parks and their rows of deckchairs for OAPs to fall asleep in? Where are the Punch and Judy shows on the beaches? Where is the all-pervasive aroma of beef lard and rotting seaweed? And where, oh where, is the rain?

Even if it does rain in Mallorca, and God knows I wish it would, the British holidaymaker will always battle through, determined to make the most of the holiday whatever the weather might bring. This stoicism is in-bred. It is hard-wired holiday culturalism, an instinct developed over a hundred years and more of holidaymaking. It is precisely the point that Theroux was making when he had been expecting day-trippers to Morecambe to get off the train, take one look and burst into tears, but when he had failed to appreciate this instinctive holiday culturalism.

More than the physical trappings of the seaside holiday, what British holidaymakers exported to Mallorca was the concept of holiday as fun, come what may. It is a concept that the British invented, as the British also pretty much invented the idea of the holiday - full stop - and both were immune to whatever foulness the weather could throw at them. It is a concept the Mallorcans have never really understood and still don't, just as the Mallorcans don't understand the British capacity to take a joke. It should be easy to understand when people come from a country with a rubbish climate and head to a seaside town where the sea is absent for much of the day (Morecambe), so making them appreciate that the joke is on them and they had better make the most of it.

Theroux referred to a cultural barrier. This barrier has always existed in Mallorca, because the Mallorcans don't get the British culture. After all these years, you would have thought that they would have done, but they still don't understand the formula H = F. Holidays equal fun.

Any comments to please.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Ruiz-Mateos arrested in Madrid

The founder of Nueva Rumasa, José María Ruiz-Mateos, has been arrested at his home in Madrid on the order of the judge in Palma investigating allegations relating to the buying and selling of a hotel in the Balearics. Ruiz-Mateos has been refusing to comply with an order to appear before the court on the grounds that he has a broken toe.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - The rapper is arrested and then released with charges

The rapper, Josep Miquel Arenas, better known as Valtonyc, who had called for the murder of Jorge Campos, the founder of the Círculo Balear, was arrested today by the National Police following a denuncia by Campos. He has been released but with charges.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Can Picafort imposes 30kph speed restrictions

Drivers will have to get used to not exceeding 30kph on all roads in Can Picafort, following an order passed by Santa Margalida town hall, designed to cut noise and increase safety. The only exception will be the main road through the town, the carretera between Alcúdia and Artà, that will maintain its 50kph limit; this road is not the town hall's responsibility and so not under its jurisdiction. The new measure will come into effect in September.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Pastor invited to Santa Margalida La Beata

Santa Margalida town hall has invited Antoni Pastor, the mayor of Manacor, to attend the La Beata procession next month. This is highly symbolic as President Bauzá has been invited only on the understanding that his visit does not bring with it huge security measures (which it almost certainly would) and as Pastor, now officially expelled from the Partido Popular, is considered a great defender of Catalan, having gone against the Bauzá and party line on the language issue.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 August 2012

It felt particularly last night though the humidity was relatively low; midnight temperatures were still nudging 30. Early morning, 07.30, and the area maximum is nearly 26 on what may well be a hotter day than yesterday when Sa Pobla went over the 100F mark and Colonia Sant Pere registered 39.1 (around 102F). It is forecast to cool down somewhat by Sunday though the five-day forecast is still predicting temperatures over 30 come Monday.

Afternoon update: Highs today up towards 39C. There is now an orange alert for tomorrow which could mean going over the 40 mark and so increased risk to health.

The Power Of The Presstrip

" 'Velvety white sands, the sweet smell of oleander drifting on a light summer's breeze, the wide-grinned greetings of the local people.' This is what I had thought I would be writing about, but instead I discovered beaches as welcoming as the banks of the Humber, the lingering stench of cat urine and miserable, aggressive locals only too ready to fleece you of your last coin in return for some odious apology of so-called gastronomy."

I have made the above up. I am not referring to anywhere. I'm pretending. Pretending to be a travel writer who, rather than reporting what a PR company or tourism agency would wish me to report, offers an honest resort assassination that will ensure that I never get invited back to write about this fictitious resort or indeed get invited to write about any resort ever again, as my name would swiftly find its way onto PR blacklists the world over.

Jaime Martínez, the Balearics director-general of tourism, has announced that the budget for travel fairs and other "actions" will amount to a mere two million euros for the upcoming season of promotion, the first major event of which is London's World Travel Market in early November. (This figure does not, by the way, include finance for advertising; not of course that there may be any.)

Stung by the utter embarrassment that the Balearics had to endure at the last major fair in Berlin, the Balearics stand in London will be significantly larger than in Berlin - ten times larger. Nevertheless, austerity still rules the day when it comes to tourism promotion; hence, the spend on fairs and these other "actions" is down to a third or a quarter of what it had been only a couple of years ago and the Balearics stand will in fact be part of the Turespaña pavilion rather than a stand-alone affair.

Martínez reckons, however, that the two million euros will be money more effectively spent. Whereas in 2009 7.2 million euros went on only 33 different types of event, the two million will stretch to over 100. And of these 100 or more, some will be famtrips, presstrips or blogtrips.

The fam in famtrip stands for familiarisation. Famtrip can be applied to trips made by travel agents and tour operators as well as to the press, the ones who make the presstrips, and to bloggers who may be the same as the mainstream press but not always. What press and blogtrips are intended to achieve is wide and positive coverage, be it in the print or online media. Such trips are always paid for by the destination with the possible exception of air travel, though this can also be financed if the trip happens to be to a destination where a tour operator with its own airline has an interest in promoting.

Presstrips are accepted practice and an accepted part of the promotional mix. They come in two different forms: one, the group trip which can include tens of journos; the other, the so-called individual hosting trip. The travel writer would always prefer the latter. He or she wouldn't have to put up with other hacks getting drunk, while there is usually less work involved; the group trip is a packed itinerary whereas the individual hosting trip would tend to be more specific and often arranged not by or on behalf of tourism authorities but by specific companies or specific businesses (hotels for example).

The crucial issue with write-ups following presstrips is just how objective they are. A full-on slagging-off simply wouldn't happen, even if it were merited. It's why you would never get the fictitious review above if the trip has been paid for.

Articles by travel writers about Mallorca are invariably highly positive. There is an awful lot to be positive about, but one does just have to pause on occasion and work out what is going on. As an example, there was an article in "The Sun" a couple of months ago. It was about Puerto Pollensa, but it was essentially promotion for a hotel (and the tour operator that has exclusivity). It was a good enough article, despite some errors (it is never Porto Pollensa), but if you understand some of the background, you then understand its advertising function; not only for the resort, the hotel and the tour operator but also an attraction that was mentioned with which the tour operator has a strong association.

I would stress that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Quite the contrary. It is very good marketing, but this example, and there are many, highlighted the way that presstrips are meant to work. For this reason, therefore, Martínez is right to look to them as means of promotion. They can be extremely effective, so long as they are not transparently obvious advertising and become more like advertorials.

Any comments to please.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Profile of Mallorca's pyromaniac

Police and forestry officials believe that the person (acting with or without accomplices) starting deliberate fires on Mallorca is a former fireman or forestry worker or someone in a similar line of work, male, the driver of a white Ford Fiesta and unemployed (and loss of employment could be a motive). The Guardia Civil has pointed to certain similarities with many of the fires - their remoteness but also proximity to main roads (to facilitate the fire-starter's escape) as well as their timing, towards the end of shifts which mean that overtime has to be paid to those who initially attend the fires.

See more: El Mundo

MALLORCA TODAY - Mallorca will receive no investment in rail network

Opposition parties, especially the PSM nationalists, have expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision of national government to spend not a single euro on Mallorca's rail network. Government investment is to be ploughed into high-speed trains and infrastructure on the mainland.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Fines to tackle Cala Rajada's poor image

The growing concerns regarding the poor image of Cala Rajada caused by tourist anti-social behaviour have been met with a by-law issued by Capdepera town hall that will institute fines of up to 3000 euros. These fines will apply to residents as well, and measures taken by the town hall include a ban on drinking alcohol in public places.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Parents try to beat IVA increase

While much of the talk about the rise in IVA (VAT) from 1 September has concentrated on the tourist industry and those businesses which will have IVA rates rise from a reduced 8% to 21%, spare a thought for parents who will have to buy material for the new school year that will now have a rate of 21% whereas it was only 4%. Consequently, parents are buying early to beat the rise.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Residents complain about the state of Son Real

Residents in Can Picafort have had made public a letter sent to Santa Margalida town hall which complains about the condition of the Son Real finca. The town hall supports the residents as it has been complaining about the poor management of the finca by the regional authorities.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Sa Pobla keeps Catalan as a requirement

The Partido Popular-led town hall assembly in Sa Pobla has voted unanimously to keep Catalan as a requirement for town hall jobs. This runs counter to the new language law as applied by the regional government for its jobs. Various other PP-led town hall administrations have also kept Catalan as an employment requirement.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 August 2012

A rather fresher feel to the morning, sunny with highs of 25 and 26 at 08.30. The yellow alert remains in place for high temperatures today but not for tomorrow, though temperatures will still be into the 30s. There is due to be a fall in temperatures at the weekend by up to four degrees on Sunday.

Afternoon update: It has topped the 100F mark, 38.3 in Sa Pobla this afternoon. Coastal highs at about 35, but the humidity has been much lower. 

Let's Spend Lots Of Money (Me Too)

300 million euros, over 650 different buildings and facilities for sporting, cultural and administrative purposes. These are the bare facts of what the Council of Mallorca and town halls have been spending money on over the past 15 years. In itself, the spend might seem reasonable enough, if it has all been a case of creating necessary infrastructure, but more often than not, this has not been the case. It has been spend predicated on a me-too mentality, spread across municipalities whose sizes rarely justify the spend. It has been spend that hasn't always been spent, as suppliers have not been paid, and spend that has demanded ever more spend, in the form of maintenance; a spend that cannot be made because there isn't the money for it.

Revelations as to the startling levels of expenditure by local authorities in Mallorca have slowly been filtering out. First we learned, two years ago, that personnel costs at town halls had doubled in the space of ten years. Then we learned, last month, that a quarter of total town hall spend is devoted to "competences" that are beyond those which town halls are obliged to spend money on. Now we have the latest facts - the 300 million euros on public swimming-pools, cultural centres, football pitches, buildings for administration and so on and so on.

The swimming-pools are an interesting one. In the north of Mallorca, Sa Pobla leaks a deficit of 150,000 euros a year for maintaining what was the first indoor pool in the area. This pool was followed by the construction of pools in Santa Margalida, Alcúdia and Puerto Pollensa; four pools for a total combined population of under 60,000. Maybe this is the right ratio, I really couldn't say, but what I can say is that each pool has been a disaster. Santa Margalida's faces demolition because its leak simply cannot be rectified. Alcúdia's and Puerto Pollensa's have both been beset with problems related to the contractors operating the pools. They all lose money.

The pools have been symptomatic of an absence of planning as to how to run the facilities once they were built and of the presence of an attitude which demands that because one town has something, so must its neighbour. On an island with so many small towns, it has led to a wholly unnecessary proliferation of all manner of facilities and had it not been for economic crisis, there would be more being developed.

A fine example of this me-too mentality was Pollensa's desire for an auditorium. It would have required an investment in the region of ten or eleven million euros. The town hall finally saw sense earlier this year and scrapped the project, one that was always flawed, as there already was an auditorium in Alcúdia, one that has never operated at anything like full capacity since it was built at the end of the last century.

There are other examples. Take the industrial estate in Alcúdia. Blocked off to prevent vehicle access and so hopefully stop more copper cabling being nicked, its layout was finished three years ago. There is still not a single unit on it, the reason for which, supposedly, is an inability to arrive at an agreement over electricity supply. If this really is the reason, why was something so fundamental not sorted out much earlier on? One fancies there are other reasons, and one only has to look at the empty spaces on industrial estates in neighbouring towns to know what they might be.

Less extravagant are the day-to-day expenditures for facilities like kindergartens and day centres, yet these expenditures cannot be met, mainly because the regional government doesn't give sufficient funding. But in a way, this sums up the whole issue of how infrastructure and facilities came into being. Town halls expected the flow of cash from regional government to continue, the regional government expected the flow of cash from national government to continue, and national government was probably still under the impression that Brussels would be handing over blank cheques.

There is much to be said for towns and villages all having different types of facility, as they add to a sense of community and of identity, but - and this raises once more questions as to the viability of the continuing existence of town halls in their current state - this has come at a high price, one paid for through a system of local government that was allowed to grow like topsy without sufficient or any thought being given to where this system was leading. We now know where it has led.

Any comments to please.

Monday, August 20, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Fire-starting on Mallorca "out of control"

There have been 18 separate woodland fires on Mallorca in the past week, leaving no one in any doubt that most if not all have been started intentionally and for the suggestion to be made that this pyromania is out of control. Fires over the past days have occurred in Capdepera, Betlem, Son Vida (on more than one occasion), and numerous other places. The environmental group GOB has called for the public prosecutor to become involved, suggesting there is something more sinister than just random fire-starting as some of the fires have broken out in more or less the same locations as fires last year. Regional government president, José Ramón Bauzá, has said that consideration will have to be given to changing and strengthening laws to try and combat what he acknowledges are not accidental fires.

See more: El Mundo

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 August 2012

Quite cloudy first up, but already by 08.30 around 27 or 28 degrees. The yellow advice is still in place and will be for the whole of the week, there being no indication of any real change in what is proving to be one of the hottest Augusts on record.

Afternoon update: The cloud lingered for some of another very hot day, but sun out by the afternoon. Highs - 36.5 Sa Pobla, 34.4 on the coast. 

Qué Soria, Soria

Spanish politicians do wish to have their holiday cake and eat it, too. There we have been, over the summer, hearing moans about Dave and his encouragement of Brits to stay in Britain and enjoy the world's most miserable climate, much therefore to the chagrin of Balearics politicians and the Balearics tourism industry, and what happens? The Spanish tourism minister, José Manuel Soria, has been telling Spaniards that they should do likewise, as in go on holiday in Spain rather of course than fly off to the flooded beaches of Britain.

Soria hasn't only recommended a Spanish "staycation" (I'm not sure how one would say this in Spanish; "estanciacaciones" perhaps) for this summer, he has said that the Spanish should always take their holidays in Spain. His words haven't exactly gone down well. Who is he to be telling people where they should or shouldn't go on holiday has been a typical response.

Soria, who I might remind you comes from the Canaries, has gone on to say that the 57 million foreign tourists who travel to Spain on holiday clearly cannot be wrong. What is wrong are the 13.1 million holidays abroad undertaken by Spaniards.

One of the more extraordinary aspects of Soria's requirement of his fellow countrypeople to display vacational patriotism, stay in Spain and thus solve the economic crisis, is that he can't understand why Spaniards would wish to head off to parts of the globe where they will encounter mosquitoes and temperatures that can exceed 35 degrees.

I don't know, are there no mosquitoes in the Canaries? Maybe there aren't. But there sure as hell are mosquitoes in Mallorca. Vast numbers of them. And there are temperatures that can exceed 35 degrees, which I would imagine is the case in the Canaries as well, especially on La Gomera. What on earth is Soria talking about? Does he not know that parts of Spain can get very hot and that there are mosquitoes?

Rather than Mallorca, what he may have in mind are destinations such as Cuba and the All-Inclusive Republic of Dominica. South America, a broad definition for Spanish tourism statistics purposes as it does include Central America and the Caribbean, received over one million Spanish holidaymakers last year. Outside of Europe, it is the most popular area of the world with the Spanish, but then this is hardly that surprising, given the connections between Spain and Latin America.

In fact, Spaniards don't necessarily disappear to places that are vastly different to Spain. France is the most popular country for Spanish tourists, followed by Portugal and then Italy, each of which may or may not conform with Soria's bewilderment with travelling to parts of the world with mosquitoes and 35 plus degrees.

It doesn't inspire huge amounts of confidence when a politician who is meant to be in charge of tourism can fail to appreciate that his own country has insects and weather conditions the same as others on whose dry land Spaniards should never set foot. There again, one knows all about politicians from islands with strong tourism traditions who come out with some old pony about tourism. Do not forget that President Bauzá, before he became president, identified the Baltics as a major area of tourist competition to Mallorca. Maybe he meant the Balkans.  But then Bauzá did confess to once having had a mental lapse in the course of a radio interview. Remarkably, he still became president.

Soria might be exonerated because he isn't only minister for tourism. Industry is part of his portfolio as well. Yet, as industry minister (and indeed as tourism minister), he would know that these stinking-hot, mosquito-infested hell holes that Spaniards insist on going to have become popular with goodly amounts of Spanish industrial help, not least from the hotel industry. It is one of the great ironies of Mallorcan tourism that its leading hotel chains should have been to the fore in exporting tourism technology and know-how to as well as in investing heavily in destinations such as Dominica.

Perhaps therefore, rather than discouraging Spaniards to travel, they should be encouraged to travel more and so support the only part of the country's industrial might (sic) that has been doing anything meaningful for the past decade or more.

Whether encouraging or discouraging, another extraordinary aspect of what Soria had to say is that he said it in the middle of August, by which time everyone was on holiday anyway. Mind you, there was the thing about "always" holidaying in Spain. And always it had better be, because always is going to mean always as Spain slips slowly into the Mediterranean and Atlantic of economic oblivion.

Any comments to please.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Solution sought to Cala San Vicente's water supply

Ongoing problems with the supply of drinking water to Cala San Vicente could be solved by extending the town's water network at a cost of 80,000 euros. Pollensa town hall is awaiting the findings of a study into the proposal.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Town hall action called for over old people's home

The problem with staff at Puerto Pollensa's old people's home not being paid should require the intervention of Pollensa's mayor, argues the Alternativa per Pollença, owing to the fact that the town hall has a moral responsibility, as does the mayor who in his previous administration oversaw the process which allowed the home to be built. The non-payment stems from the fact that the operator of the home does not get its full grant from the regional government.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 August 2012

Very little to say that is any different. A high at 08.30 of 25.6, humidity up somewhat from yesterday but not oppressive, sun all the way and hot. Ditto the week ahead. The cloud that the forecast had suggested might be around this morning isn't around.

Afternoon update: With hot winds this afternoon, a real boiler, the highest temperature having been 37.3 in Albufera. 

MALLORCA TODAY - Real Mallorca 2 : 1 Espanyol

La Liga back at the Iberostar stadium, but later in the day - an 11pm kick-off. Hard to imagine a better start, Hemed putting Mallorca a goal up after just under two minutes, turning in the box and striking with the left foot, only for Espanyol to equalise three minutes later, Mallorca's left flank exposed by Wakaso who shot without Aouate moving.

Espanyol more content to sit in, Nunes went close with a header off the bar nine minutes into the second period, and Mallorca were in the ascendant, hitting the woodwork through a long-range effort by Pereira, followed up by Hemed knocking in the rebound for a second with five minutes left.

Encouraging start for Mallorca.


Aouate; Navarro, Nunes, Bigas, López; Pina (Martí 81), Márquez (Joao Victor 55), Nsue (Fernández 74), Pereira; Hemed, Victor 
Goals: Hemed (2, 85)
Yellows: Nunes (32), Nsue (38), Martí (90)


Alvarez; López, Forlin, Moreno, Capdevila; Sánchez, Gómez (Tejera 82); Albin, Verdú, Wakaso (Alfonso 68); Alvaro (Rui Fonte 63) 
Goal: Wakaso (5)
Yellows: Sánchez (58), Wakaso (62)

Go Fly A Kite, Kitesurfers

You probably have a Dutch dude by the name of Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise to thank or blame for kitesurfing in Mallorca. G.A.P. took out his first patent on a kite for kitesurfing in 1977, thus indicating that kitesurfing has been around rather longer than might have been imagined and also indicating how quickly different forms of surfing developed: board surfing was really only popularised in the late 1950s.

The history of kitesurfing in Mallorca is more recent - around the turn of the century was when it started to catch on - and it is a minority sport, the consequence in part of the absence of available beaches from which to practise it in summer.

For a time, kitesurfers would turn up on regular beaches, leading, as I once witnessed, to a fist fight when a kite almost decapitated a child. This was on Playa de Muro beach. There are no longer any rogue kitesurfers taking to the waters in summer where the beach is populated, though the same stretch of beach does attract kitesurfers in winter when there aren't sunbathers or swimmers to maim. Further along the beach, the part known as Es Comú, a rustic beach backed by dunes, there is an established kitesurfing presence in summer, one sanctioned sufficiently that during the recent fiesta in Playa de Muro, it was possible to give kitesurfing a go.

The Es Comú beach, because there are no hotels, houses or road next to it, is not contentious. The beach itself, except on Sundays, is quiet during the summer months. It is awkward to get to, if you have to hump your kitesurf kit, but its location is more or less perfect, the winds from the exposed coastline of the bay of Alcúdia affording good conditions for the sport.

Another beach, also exposed, is altogether more contentious when it comes to kitesurfing. As I understand it, Es Comú and the beach at La Marina by Barcarès are the only two locations on Mallorca where kitesurfing can be performed to any great extent. There is a further beach in the south, but the area is strictly limited. In the bay of Pollensa, kitesurfing has grown to the extent that it is no longer confined to La Marina, it is also practised from beaches by the two hotel complexes along the road between Alcúdia and Puerto Pollensa - Club Pollentia and Club Sol.

But it is kitesurfing at La Marina which has caused most of the controversy, especially since the extension of permission for its practice earlier this summer and the establishment of a training school. The number of kitesurfers has increased significantly, and the local residents are distinctly hacked off as a result.

For some time, banners have been hanging from houses overlooking La Marina beach. One says: "Flysurf school, no thanks" (flysurf is the same as kitesurfing). The residents object to the kitesurfers for different reasons, one of them being safety.

Kitesurfing can be dangerous, but the danger is not only that from a kite which goes out of control, there is the danger that also comes from the location at La Marina and at others along the bay road. This particular road is notorious for accidents, some horrors having occurred on it over the years, especially by the bend in the road, right by where the objectors' banners can be seen. The road is dangerous because vehicles go too quickly or too slowly. Too quickly and they might collide with the constant movement of people crossing the road with their kitesurf kit. Too slowly, which is the case with many spectating drivers, and someone smashes into the back or takes it upon himself to overtake and go head on with a car that is moving too quickly in the opposite direction. Cars can also suddenly just stop or slow to park off the road with barely any indication, if at all.

The problem with the kitesurfing at La Marina is, from a road-safety point of view, that it has become a tourist attraction, and La Marina will continue to attract more and more kitesurfers because, and unlike Es Comú, it is right next to a main road and so easy to just park up and disgorge the kit. And the parking is another complaint the residents have, which is understandable. At times, there are vehicles all over the place, poorly parked. To this, there is noise, rubbish and everything else that goes with a concentration of people.

A compromise needs to be found and measures put in place to ensure safety, but it is difficult to know what this compromise or these measures could be or indeed who would initiate them. As too often with matters by the coast, there is confusion as to which authority does what, as the residents have discovered over several years in getting no joy from the town hall and the police and the Costas, to which should also be added the Council of Mallorca which is responsible for the road.

There is going to be a nasty accident one of these days.

Any comments to please.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Real Mallorca get improved television deal

Real Mallorca have signed an agreement with Prisa for television rights over the next three years which will lead to an increase in revenue from rights over 20 million euros. The club have broken the contract with Mediapro, as have other clubs which had been threatening to delay the start of the new La Liga season in a row over rights income.

See more: El Mundo

MALLORCA TODAY - Complaints against La Marina kitesurfers grow

For some weeks, there have been banners draped from houses of residents by La Marina in Alcúdia, protesting against kitesurfers and kitesurf schools. The beach at La Marina, the area between Barcares and the Albufereta between Alcúdia and Puerto Pollensa, has been used by kitesurfers since permission was initially granted in 2001. This year there has been an increase in the number of kitesurfers, following the extension of permission.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 August 2012

The humidity is much lower this morning, but temperatures high - 25.8 the coastal top at 08.45. More mid 30s on the cards for later. Just a chance of some cloud tomorrow morning but without rain. Otherwise, cloudless and high temperatures into and through next week.

Afternoon update: Blisteringly hot. 36.2 inland in Sa Pobla and 33.2 on the coasts.

The Tyranny Of Trip Advisor

Here's a story for you. A Brit family of five go into a Brit bar. They order for all five, one of the orders being for the daily set menu, which happens to feature pork chop as its main dish, and it is the pork chop which is to prove central to this story, as the mother complains that it has not been cooked how she likes it, i.e. no sign of any pinkness and so basically done to a crisp. The pork chop is cooked more, almost of all of it is eaten yet apparently it is still isn't to the lady's satisfaction. When it comes to the bill and divvying up time, the mother and the three children head out of the bar, leaving the father. The bill has had two euros knocked off it because the pork chop hadn't originally been to the mother's satisfaction. The father says that he won't be paying for any of his wife's meal. It was a set menu, it wasn't right for her and (and this is a stunner) her holiday (not her meal) has been ruined as a consequence.

The bar owners, somewhat taken aback, insist that because all of the meal, save for a very small part of the pork chop, had been eaten there was no justification for not paying. It is at this point that the story starts to get slightly confused in terms of the father leaving and the mother returning, but to cut to the chase, the mother returns, the father having gone off down the street to wait with the kids. By now, it isn't just her meal that isn't going to be paid for, none of the meals are going to be paid for, all 68 euros worth of them.

The mother is told that if she won't pay or attempts to leave without paying, the police will be called. And this is exactly what happens, the mother seemingly surprised that the police are a) called and b) turn up. One of the policeman speaks very good English. He asks the mother about her meal, did she eat it, and so on. She says that she didn't eat all of it, as her son had eaten the dessert. The policeman points out that the dessert was, nevertheless, consumed. He insists that the bill is paid in full without any discount for the pork chop. The mother still refuses, despite actually having the money in her hand.

The policeman then asks for some identification. The mother has none, provoking the policeman to tell her that it is against the law not to. The mother produces an E111 card. "This is not identification," says the policeman but notes down the details anyway (which do include a British National Insurance number, so there is some type of identification). The mother is still refusing to pay, so the policeman tells her that if she doesn't, she will spend a night in the cells and be in court the next day, then remembers that it is a Saturday and so adds that she will spend two nights in the cells. With this threat, the mother finally pays up, and the policeman warns her of the consequences if the police have to be called again to attend to an incident involving her.

The story in itself may not be uncommon. It happens all the time that people, and don't let's just insinuate that it is only the Brits because it isn't, attempt to pull a fast one. But what makes the story altogether more significant is what the mother says as she is leaving, having been made to pay.

When the family first came into the bar, and this was noted not only by one of the owners but also by other diners (some of whom became involved and supported the bar owners), the mother made reference to a certificate for excellence from Trip Advisor that hangs in the bar, by just saying the name of the website. This could have been taken one of two ways, but suspicion was aroused from the outset and indeed Trip Advisor did get mentioned in the exchanges prior to the parting words from the mother, which were: "I'm going to blacken your name on Trip Advisor and get all my friends to do so as well."

What this was all about of course was that there was premeditation. The Trip Advisor commendation inspired the complaint. It was premeditated and in effect a form of blackmail. Not every tourist seeks to exploit Trip Advisor in this way, by knowing that a malicious review, or the threat of one, can be extremely harmful, but some do, as they indeed exploit the internet full stop. The worst thing about this case is that the bar is going to close its account. It cannot afford such malice.

The case exposes the flaw with Trip Advisor but more importantly it exposes the flaw with some people, with some tourists who are dishonest and malevolent. Trip Advisor claims reviews that can be trusted. The problem is that they can't be, because the website has unleashed the worst of human nature that itself cannot be trusted.

Any comments to please.

Friday, August 17, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Austrian youth dies after balcony fall

A 17-year-old Austrian youth has died after falling from a sixth floor balcony at a Playa de Palma hotel, the Obelisco. Meantime, a 22-year-old Briton has been injured following a fall from the third floor of the Sotavento Club Apartments in Palmanova.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Camerons on the beach in Puerto Pollensa

Panic yesterday when it became known by the press that the Camerons had been and were likely to be on the beach in Puerto Pollensa. So, with this link, here is a photo.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Protection sought for Moors and Christians

The PSM socialists in Pollensa are asking that the Moors and Christians celebration during the town's Patrona fiestas is declared as being of cultural interest in order to protect it from any potential diminution or change.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - The illegal beach selling problem in northern Mallorca

Following recent actions by police forces in the north of Mallorca against illegal selling on the beaches, here is a review of what mayors in the area are saying.

Comment: This issue is probably being heightened because there is now a unified police unit in the north, so its co-ordination in itself leads to greater numbers of "arrests", but as the article points out, there is very little the police can really do. When people complain that the police should do this or do that, they fail to understand that there aren't enough police as it is and that the problem of illegal selling has been the same for years in that detentions can be made but those detained don't have money with which to pay fines, often they don't have documentation or any obvious fixed abode. The police end up having to let them go.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 August 2012

Quite misty early on, but the mist will quickly clear, though it's a reflection of the very high humidity. 23.7 the high at 07.45, maximums today, with the yellow alert in place, into the mid 30s or maybe higher, and there really is no sign of any change well into next week.

Afternoon update: Today's high has been 35.8 in Sa Pobla. Early cloud kept things cooler but there was still the humidity, and the cloud went, giving coastal highs of 32 and up. 

Worlds Apart: British tourism

Do you reckon that David Cameron has ever seen "Geordie Shore"? On balance, it is probably unlikely, though there was always of course that Paxman interview and its question about a Pink Pussy.

At the same time that the British Prime Minister is to be found luxuriating in a luxury villa in the countryside near to Cala San Vicente, is to be seen taking a civilised cortado at the Club Pollença, which could pass for some days-of-the-Raj, colonial stomping-ground for old buffers wearing pith helmets, and being the all-round toff that he is, down in Maga Land the good businesspeople around The Strip have finally cottoned on to the fact that theirs is the Sodom and Gomorrah resort of Mallorca. What have they been doing all these years? Have they never heard of Shagalluf?

This revelation comes courtesy of MTV España, which has had the good sense to air the Magalluf special from "Geordie Shore", a year after it first went out in the UK. Just one look at the "actors" should tell the businesspeople of Maga all they need to know without having to sit through the broadcast: gym monkeys and two females injected with that much silicon they make Katie Price appear to be an A-cup. They look to have been crafted from a 3D virtual porn movie, which isn't a million miles away from what they are - unreal reality-show stars engaged in simulated (or possibly not simulated) sex acts in the club dens of iniquity to be found in Magalluf.

The bad image of Magalluf just keeps being made worse. If it isn't "Geordie Shore", it is the balcony incidents, the odd street battle here and there, the prostitutes which all conspire to give a dog an even worse name than it already has. But this bad image doesn't stop Britain's youth. Magalluf has been undergoing a renaissance, not one of redevelopment but of increased popularity because, as a BBC Radio One report discovered recently, it is considered to be far better value than Ibiza.

Dave in genteel Pollensa and the Newcastle Eight in Magalluf; the contrast could not be greater. Two worlds, two British worlds collide yet fail to come together, unless they happen to be scrapping with each other for the best seats on Ryanair. One world at one end of the island, the other world at the other. Worlds apart.

British tourism suffers from a bipolar disorder, one encapsulated by Cameron and "Geordie Shore". At the Dave pole of this disorder are the coffee-table images and descriptions, drooled over by the Gideons and Clarissas planning their "authentic" Mallorcan holiday over the morning pomegranate juice in Islington pied-a-terres. At the "Geordie Shore" pole are the Waynes and Kylies on their way to karaoke heaven with Jordan in his baby buggy or, as MTV has so adeptly pointed out, various Cheryl Coles from Newcastle - with augmentation - and their ripped boyfriends. There isn't anything in between. Or at least, this is how Mallorca is more often than not portrayed. It is as if the great mass of the ordinary man, woman and child Brit tourist doesn't exist and nor does the ordinary resort which doesn't pretend to be authentic or is like a war zone by six each morning.

It isn't only British tourism. The Germans manage a similar bipolar misrepresentation: Claudia Schiffer at one end, neo-Nazis in Arenal at the other. But then the media, regardless of nationality, is only interested in either celebrity, the rich and famous and the habitations for the wannabe rich and famous or the Bad News Tour. The rest are of no interest.

This concentration on the two ends of the disorder creates a parody, and so Mallorca ends up, as it has, as either a place of pretension or of violent, sexual tension. To the unfamiliar, therefore, Mallorca becomes a choice between bumping into Dave or into a giant pair of comedy breasts, neither of which is much of a choice.

This parody, though, has existed since the invention of new tourism in Mallorca. For years, it was the "Geordie Shore" (though not as extreme) that dominated, to the extent that Mallorca was a place to be avoided by any tourist with the slightest sense of discernment. It has swung the other way now. The coffee-table image is one that has assumed a pre-eminence. Both are representative, in their own ways, but both are misrepresentative because they miss all that exists in the middle. And what they really miss is the fact that tourism is neither one thing nor the other. It is all things.

Any comments to please.