Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Future Of Magalluf

"Friends and neighbours, as the new spokesperson for the neighbourhood association, I hope for the collaboration of all residents, working together as an association of friends in this time of crisis in order to cure all the ills in the area, to beautify and enrich it and enhance our local heritage." These words were written twenty-five years ago. They were written about Magalluf. The author was Pepe Tirado, the president of Acotur, the association of tourist services businesses. Poor old Pep. A quarter of a century's worth of working together and a summer's worth of railing against the evils of Punta Bellend and mamading, and blow me he finds himself in danger of being torpedoed below the waist line by a new association: Calvia con Futuro, an association which I imagine is creating great excitement in the quiet resorts such as Illetes and the leafy hinterland parts like Es Capdella: Magalluf con Futuro would be more apt.

Hey ho, never mind, Pep, but there you were a couple of weeks ago announcing the results of a survey of Magalluf businesses by Acotur in which businesses overwhelmingly said they would be in favour of tougher local ordinance and were against practices which degraded the area around the strip and which were out of control.

The Future of Magalluf would doubtless agree, espousing, as it does, sustainable tourism. I wonder if they know this what means. It's a concept which sound good and altruistic, and Gabriel Escarrer of Meliá did after all use the S-word when he said that certain businesses could take their "pathetic expertise somewhere else". And which businesses was he referring to exactly? Well, perhaps he was referring to Carnage, the bar-crawl and pool-party organisers, or to the bar in which the infamous blowjob video was filmed. And what do you know? Both are represented on the Future of Magalluf.

Jaime Martínez, the tourism minister, welcomed the new association, but you could detect that he wasn't overwhelmed. There are several other associations and business groups in Magalluf as it is, such as Acotur, and they have long had the ear of Calvia town hall or regional government. It is legitimate to question how effective they have been and indeed how representative they truly are, but another association is just that - another association amidst all the various voices that are raised. And in the case of the Future of Magalluf one can sense that it is grabbing hold of the coat tails of betterment in the resort and the desire for and acceptance of this betterment, as indicated by the Acotur survey.

Martínez, formerly part of the Calvia town hall apparatus, has also said that bar crawls are not wanted, which implies a criticism of the town hall which set out new rules for their organisation earlier this year and which were generally flouted. And here lies the problem. If there are new rules or if there is self-regulation by members of an association, who'll be the first to break them? The Future of Magalluf might try and portray itself as acting in a co-operative manner, but individual businesses will always place themselves above the collective.

The association does at least have a respected president, even if not all of its component parts have hitherto acted in a wholly respectable fashion. Alfonso Robledo is the president of the PIMEM (small to medium-sized businesses) restaurant association, albeit that this association left PIMEM in August. He is said to be neutral and to not have business interests in Calvia and therefore Magalluf. This neutrality is one reason why he was invited to be president, it is said, but this in a way is interesting in itself. One of the Future of Magalluf's vice-presidents, unless I am very much mistaken, once took to social media to rail against anyone who didn't live and work in Magalluf, i.e. their opinions and views were not valid and they could basically do one. Perhaps, however, this was one of the "mistakes" to which she has alluded.  

I am, I think I need to make clear, not against businesses involved with this association. Indeed, I was one of the few in the media who attacked the punitive nature of measures taken against the likes of the Playhouse bar (and which have not actually been implemented). They were caught up in the storm that broke out because of the blowjob video and were thus victims of a situation - the salacious and lewd activities, the excessive drinking and so on - that has obtained for years and which has been promoted by other businesses with greater clout in Magalluf. There is unquestionably an imbalance in Magalluf, a favouring of certain businesses over others, and this has come firmly to light with the detention (and now release) of the chief of police. An even playing-field, a fairness in supervision, an improvement in standards of behaviour; these should all be welcomed. But whether they can be achieved is another matter.

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