Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Two Fairs Of The Tramuntana

They had a fair in Lluc at the weekend. Did you go? Did you know it was on? Had you been confused?

A fair in Lluc requires that people go to it. Most fairs can be taken to the local people. The problem with Lluc is that it doesn't have any people. Well, not many. Forty-four on the "padrón", 18.6% of the entire population (236) of the mountainous municipality of Escorca, one of Mallorca's bigger municipalities in terms of land area. It is some 12 square kilometres smaller than its neighbour Pollensa. Its population is 1.46% of Pollensa's.

There are, therefore, certain inherent disadvantages to staging a fair in Lluc. This said, it is - courtesy of the monastery - a place to which people go. The weather may not have been brilliant at the weekend, but in a way the weather doesn't matter too much (unless it is absolutely hammering it down). Lluc is Lluc; the weather is largely by the bye.

Reports say, however, that the fair suffered from there having been fewer people. In fact, the numbers were distinctly on the "poco" side. Sales were therefore down. What briskness of trade there was centred on the foody stuff. Folk were eating; they weren't buying artisan pots, much to the chagrin of artisanal vendors thereof.

It wasn't perhaps altogether surprising that numbers were down. There will be those, myself included, who know that there is a fair in Lluc on the second weekend in October. I know because it's one of those things I need to know. I might not otherwise. But I didn't know what exactly was occurring this year. Could I find information?

As Escorca is so tiny as far as people are concerned, it doesn't have a town hall overflowing with staff. It also has a debt of over 700,000 euros to worry about. This may explain why the town hall's website contained not an immediately obvious word about the fair. When you rummage a bit, if you can be bothered, there is a thing which explains that there is a fair on the second weekend of October. Otherwise, the last time anything was posted to the main page was in April, and that was an announcement for a council meeting. There are icons for Twitter and Facebook. Might those have led to respective pages and possible information? Neither go anywhere.

There was, to be fair to the fair, an announcement on the town hall's Facebook page, even if the link from the website wasn't functioning. That at least confirmed the times, if nothing much else, but I'm guessing not many saw the announcement. Likes 149; they've gone up by one now, as I've liked it and become number 150.

The lack of information is not unique. A degree of hunting is often required to find it. Several town halls are deficient in this regard. But might there have been a further reason why the Lluc fair was less than well attended this year? The potential confusion?

The title of the fair in Catalan was Fira de la Serra de Tramuntanta. In Puerto Soller, admittedly only on the Saturday, was the Fira de la Mar Serra de Tramuntana, the first time such a fair has been held. You don't need to understand Catalan to spot the similarity between. Only the sea has come between them.

To be blunt, whose bright idea was it to hold a fair with almost exactly the same name, on one of the same days, not a million kilometres from Lluc? The potential for confusion was great. Had the Lluc fair been moved?

Most remarkable of all was that the Puerto Soller fair had been organised in conjunction with the Council of Mallorca's consortium for the Tramuntana, the body which seemingly now has promotional responsibilities for the mountains. Did no one spot the similarity? You would have thought they might, given that Lluc is about as Tramuntana as you can get and has been holding its fair for years.

The absence of information, the almost identical names of the fairs point to what is an unfortunately incoherent approach to promotion. We are still in the tourist season. German states are having autumn half-terms. There are plenty of people about. I know of hotels in the north of the island which are full, and they really are full; prospective clients have been unable to book.

Given this lucky state of affairs, what a shame that there is such a shambolic approach to promotion. It's hard to understand why it is quite so poor, especially given the means which are now available and the access that the great majority of tourists (and residents) have to these means.

It has, though, been ever thus. What hasn't been ever thus is to have two fairs with as good as the same name.

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