Nine months ago, I wrote an article with the byline "tourism confusion". It was about the Tramuntana mountains and their promotion for tourism purposes. In that article I wondered about the organisation of the Tramuntana. Had there been a lack of political will? Had there been difficulties of co-ordination? Or was the whole management of the mountains within a tourism framework suffering from the lack of a clear vision as to what is wanted from the Tramuntana?
I suggested that a change in the political landscape might bring with it a more sympathetic attitude but that there would remain the question as to what the vision actually was. Well, that political change appears to have made very little difference. Mallorca has a marvellous asset and public institutions still apparently incapable of appreciating just how marvellous and of making this marvel known.
At the most recent Council of Mallorca full session was an item about the Tramuntana. Antoni Serra Comas, a Partido Popular councillor, said that the consortium which supposedly oversees the promotional development of the mountains was "in a state of total paralysis". He said that the regional government needed to figure out "what type of management model there should be for promoting the Tramuntana".
Comas was immediately identifying a structural problem. Which institution actually has overall responsibility? The Council of Mallorca has a great deal and will doubtless assume more once tourism promotion responsibilities are fully devolved to it. So why might the regional government need to be involved? Well, a reason is that the consortium to which Comas was referring - Consorcio Sierra de Tramuntana Patrimonio Mundial, to give it its full title - falls under the auspices of the ministry for the presidency: President Armengol of the regional government, that is.
On the government's website, it still names Bartomeu Deyà as being the head of this consortium. In fact, as Comas alluded to, he ceased to be its director last October. Since then, as I'm led to believe, there has been an executive looking after the shop. But no replacement as director has been found, despite, so I understand, one notable approach having been made.
There are those, it has been said to me, who were not totally enamoured of Deyà's performance. This is not for me comment on, but he came to the role with fifteen years of experience as manager of the Fomento del Turismo (Mallorca Tourist Board). He must have had something about him and more than just the fact that he was a Partido Popular appointment: one made by the former president of the Council, Maria Salom. Yes, a Council of Mallorca appointment, raising again the issue of institutional responsibility.
The governing board of the consortium has, since it was formed in 2011, had the president of the Council of Mallorca as its president. It is now Miquel Ensenyat. The vice-president is from the Council, which provides other members, as does the regional government. Plus there are observers from political parties that don't form the administrations at government and Council levels. Oh, and there are representatives from each of the Tramuntana municipalities on the consortium as well, most of whom will be new because of changes following the elections last May.
The apparent institutional confusion may well be a reason why the consortium seems to have been largely ineffective. Another is the lack of continuity. Political changes are to be expected, but it doesn't follow that these automatically have to lead to senior officials also changing. A good example of this is the Palma 365 Foundation. Pedro Homar has remained in place. He said in a recent interview that political change in Palma had made no difference to his job or to the work of Palma 365. The commitment was as it was under the PP. Indeed, it might be said to be greater.
This foundation and the Tramuntana consortium are designed to promote two key projects for promoting alternative forms of tourism for Mallorca: Palma all year and the mountains and all they have to offer. The consortium does have to abide by Unesco rules, so it does have an outside influence that Palma doesn't. But this shouldn't be an excuse for the great contrast in developments since both were formed.
They have been in existence for roughly the same length of time. While Palma goes from strength to strength, the Tramuntana is stuck in a state of paralysis, as Comas calls it. But there is one very major difference between the two bodies. Palma 365 has enormous private sector support. The mountains do not.
With Palma 365, the likes of TUI have worked closely in developing and rolling out the strategy. The Tramuntana could benefit from the same. Instead there are all sorts of public institutions and representatives who are involved in getting the strategy nowhere. Comas is right. A new management model is needed. The question is - who takes the decision?