Friday, April 22, 2016

Mallorca, Terrorism And Tourists

The arrest of the IS suspect in Palma this week contributed to a flurry of overseas media hysteria. "Good Morning Britain", so I'm told (never see it), got in on the alleged summer terrorist target bandwagon of the "Daily Mail" and others. This story with "reliable" sources included the ever so reliable "Bild", a newspaper that veers between bland profiles of the Paradise Island and every available opportunity to stick the boot in. As evidence, one could cite the time that Mallorca (and specifically Playa de Palma because of its strong German association) was the source of bird flu in Germany. It wasn't.

It is inevitable that such stories do get whipped up, however wide of the mark they might be. One recalls how the travel editor of "The Sun" forecast the virtual end of tourism as we know it in light of the Palmanova bombing and murder of two Guardia officers and the subsequent very minor bomb incidents. All the work of ETA, her analysis was all the more ridiculous for having come from someone with her job title.

This isn't to downplay a possible threat. It would be equally ridiculous to state categorically that there could not be an incident. The world doesn't work like this, more's the pity. But however good the Spanish security forces are with intelligence and operations (and they are good), consideration will surely be being given to extra measures. One of these might be, despite authorities being loathe to introduce them, cameras on beaches.

While these do exist for certain specific reasons, they are not deployed in a general sense. Privacy dominates the thinking and rightly so. But it might be remembered that following the Palmanova bombing there were cameras installed which were trained on certain beaches in Mallorca. They ended up creating a rumpus, not least because the tourism ministry, whose idea it was, had not sought permission to install them. Its justification lay with an old threat from ETA to do precisely what is now once again being spoken of: bombs on beaches.

Meanwhile, and also inevitably, the overseas media cottoned on, rather slowly it has to be said, to the anti-tourist graffiti in Palma. It finally made the pages of British ("The Telegraph", for instance), Swedish and Dutch newspapers and also those of Germany's "Stern" and "Die Welt". But was it correct, as one publication had it, that there is "fury" being directed towards tourists? Though I drew attention the other day to the potential rise in the "tourismphobia" phenomenon, it needs reiterating that the graffiti was the work, in all likelihood, of a couple of what one local Spanish paper here referred to as "imbeciles". Where such fury may or may not exist, I would suggest, is mainly confined to Palma and the city, the consequence of the inundations from cruise ships and the takeover of private accommodation.

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