Friday, March 17, 2017

The B-Word And Brits on Holiday

Brexit. Aaargh! There you are, it's been forced out of me. I took a vow under oath to never mention it. So much for vows. So much for hoping that the B-word is all a charade dreamt up by fake news. There is no B-word. The B-exit will not happen. There never was a referendum. There never was a European Union. Can Donald Trump confirm any of this? Paul Mason, he who was responsible for the excellent Panorama thing about Spanish profligacy and the economic crisis, recently described Trump as a lying fantasist. Sounds good to me. Come on, Donald, tell us that the B-word is fake after all.

In the absence of such confirmation, we have to suppose that the B-word exists and that the B-exit will come to pass. For those who have devoted so many words to dissecting and analysing the B-word, this will come as a relief. What would they have otherwise been doing for the past ... past, how long is it now?

Experts. So many experts. So many inexpert experts. Let's take one strand of expertise or inexpertise, shall we? How about tourism? The impact of the B-word on tourism, British tourism. You do know, don't you, that when the process that trigger-happy Theresa will article-ate is completed, there won't be any more British tourists. You didn't know?

This is a conclusion at the extreme wing of expertise; otherwise known as complete nonsense. The navel of post-exit British tourism has been gazed into on a regular basis, as has the same navel of pre-exit. Why should things change dramatically or have been changing? The only matter of any significance thus far has been the exchange rate. Yet even that isn't highly significant. British tourists have known poor exchange rate days in the past. They come anyway.

Iago Negueruela is the Balearic minister for employment, trade and industry. He strikes me as one of the more sensible people who govern the islands. Regarding tourism and the B-word, he has said that there will "still be tourists". Iago is a sort of expert, though not as much as his boffin economic affairs adviser, Llorenç Pou, but his simple analysis and the use of "still" cuts through the nonsense. Of course there will still be tourists, and their numbers may not substantially differ to what they are at present.

As others have observed, Mallorca is a convenient hop of a couple of hours by plane. Despite hotelier avarice and all that, despite exchange rates, holidaymakers value time as much as money. They can't wait to get on the beach, to get by the poolside, to get out the claim form for a fake bout of gastroenteritis. Someone noted the other day, apropos the so-called tourist resort bus services (so-called, because they aren't), that holidaymakers have no great desire to be taken on mystery trips of the Mallorcan countryside when they should be steaming towards Cala Millor or Alcudia. Time is holiday money. The quicker the better.

Ah, but in the post-exit universe there will be difficulties with travel. Really? Will Spain come up with an arrangement as daft as it has managed to with Russian travellers? A new contract with an Indian company that sorts out visas has reduced the number of cities in Russia to less than a handful where visas can be obtained. But why any talk of visas? They won't be required. Besides, if travel is currently so difficult to destinations outside the EU, why are all those British tourists heading to Turkey. Or were heading there before they took fright at the prospect of terrorism.

Negueruela might be slightly more alarmed by what experts are suggesting could happen with European funding. This in itself has an impact on tourism, as European funds help with certain projects. When the UK closes its Brussels account, the funds will be deprived of however many billions currently flow into the account. Regions of Spain will therefore lose out. If this is the case, then they'd better ensure they get the hurry-up with restoring Inca's theatre: it's a Euro theatre, half of it anyway and vital for future cultural tourism. Possibly.

More damaging potentially would be the impact on Palma. It's a Euro city, such are the demands made on Brussels. Will it sink into the sea when the (British) money dries up? Unlikely.  

Nevertheless, it is probably wise to have some contingency. Experts suggest that the Balearic economy could contract by as much (?) as 0.6% because of the ultimate impact of the B-word. Tourism markets therefore need to be diversified. Very sensible, but has there not been a process of diversification for some time? Ask Magalluf, for instance.

There you are then. If you want to know more, consult an expert. I promise not to mention the B-word again.

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