Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Years Of Doing Nothing: Trouble in Magalluf

Something that was conveniently ignored when there was all the absurd ballyhoo regarding the BBC's "Truth About Magalluf" documentary was the fact that it is not only the British media which takes an interest in the seamier side of Mallorcan tourism. Germany's is pretty keen to as well. And so is the Spanish, which includes, therefore, Mallorcan.

The attitude towards Magalluf among Mallorcans is far from positive. I don't recall a Mallorcan ever having had a good word to say about the place. There must be some, maybe those who make a living from Magalluf's tourism, but the resort's name has been dragged through as much local mud as it has foreign mud.

For the Mallorcan, Magalluf is drunkenness and hooliganism, and primarily British drunkenness and hooliganism. The average Mallorcan may never have even been to Magalluf because, rather like pompous Brits who manage to pontificate about Magalluf despite never having set foot in the place, they have no desire to be confronted by lagered-up, tattoo-ed-up moronism. This average Mallorcan can express his or her displeasure, despite being in close proximity to similar moronism elsewhere. And it's not just moronism. There are all those tacky bars in Magalluf, aren't there, of which of course there are no examples anywhere else in Mallorca.

Fair do's, Magalluf is extreme in that its excesses are worse than other resorts. This much is undeniable, but its extremism and its excesses are partly the consequence of a laxity that exists all over Mallorca, one that has, for years, permitted or turned a blind eye to poor behaviour, drunkenness, prostitution and illegal street-selling. Magalluf is the repugnant tip of a not always pleasant iceberg. A key reason for it having become this tip is that there will always be specific locations in which there is a concentration of the less than pleasant. It just so happens that Magalluf is Mallorca's.

The season barely underway, and there are already reports concerning the resort's prostitutes. One has been arrested for attacking attacking two British tourists, striking one on the back with a beer bottle, and stealing their mobiles. Everyone knows that these prostitutes are not on the game but are mobile mobile-robbers and robbers of anything else they can lay their hands on. Calvià town hall has made much of its intention to get to grips with the problem this summer, and maybe it will. But it is a problem that has arisen through a build-up over several years of what was initially just roguish petty criminality (that of the looky-looky men with their fake gear) into something rather more serious.

Magalluf bears the brunt of this more serious crime because of what it is. Clean it up, though, and will the problem go away or will it just go elsewhere? Things have a habit of doing so. Take scratch card, time-share touts. They were driven out and so turned up in Puerto Alcúdia, and it took a few years for them to be moved on; the particularly aggressive ones, that is.

The police, far from being idle or far from deserving criticism for being inactive, have a devil's own job. As do town halls. Street criminals can be picked up, they can be slung in a cell, but then what? They rarely have means to pay fines. They often have no fixed abodes. What do the police do with them? They could denounce them, haul them up in front of a judge, ask for a prison term, but they would end up costing money. They could request their deportation, but how long would that procedure take? How much would it cost? No, the police deserve an awful lot of sympathy.

Where there can be criticism for inaction dates back many years. It was a failure way back when to come to terms with the relatively minor street-selling infractions of the lookies which has now spiralled up to what can occur in Magalluf. This failure was not only one of officialdom, it was one also of tourists, who played along with the looky game, and of residents, among whom were and are Mallorcans, who would happily buy fake goods and still do buy them.

Magalluf is, therefore, a localised culmination of historical blind-eyeing. And because it's Magalluf and because also of the BBC ballyhoo, the Spanish media are even more on the case. Another report just into the season speaks of the "hooligans" having returned. It also speaks of counting 25 street-sellers (lookies, in other words) and 15 Asian massage girls. Shocking? Of course not. You can go to somewhere genteel like Puerto Pollensa and you would be able to count similar numbers were you to hang around long enough. And the reason why is because nothing was done years ago.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

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