Friday, December 22, 2017

The Last Tourism Minister?

No one from the hoteliers or the tourism sector in general was present at government HQ for the swearing-in of Bel Busquets as vice-president and tourism minister. It was apparently the first time that a tourism minister has taken office without the hoteliers having been represented. Their absence was downplayed. The hoteliers were holding an assembly and they were also having their Christmas lunch. So, no controversy there, then.

Whatever the hoteliers and the rest of the tourism industry in the Balearics think about Busquets, they're just going to have to get on with things and try and get on with her. In pure political terms they do at least know what the agenda is: the same as with Biel Barceló. But even sharp division on policies, such as the tourist tax, can be made to appear friendly enough; it depends on the individuals. Barceló and Inma Benito, no longer the hoteliers president, did at least seem to get on. It was a tribute to both that they did.

Busquets, for her part, has been coming out with the normal stuff about dialogue. In fact, she went one step further than normal; there is to be "maximum consensus and dialogue", once Christmas and the Kings are out of the way and everyone can get back to work. If there was ever going to be a good time for her to take office, it has been now, especially as the hoteliers were tucking into their turkey (or whatever) and donning the hats from their crackers at the very moment she was uttering her oath.

In addition to this maximum consensus and dialogue, Busquets trotted out all the other clichés. For instance, the tourist tax is for improving "the territory and the people"; the tax "takes advantage of benefits from tourism to make policies for protecting the territory". Yes, Bel, I think we've all got that message.

The tourism industry should not fear, or so it would appear, as Bel stated that she is not opposed to tourism. Which was good of her. It would be strange indeed for a tourism minister to be opposed to the very thing she is supposed to be responsible for. But then these are strange times, not least because - and despite the government's "agreements for change" (to which she naturally referred) - most of the government and the whole of the non-government didn't want her. President Armengol had wanted an independent and a "consensual" person at the ministry's helm. So had Mae de la Concha, the Podemos general secretary. The PP and the opposition had wanted anyone but another member of Més.

But Bel is now minister, so all that reluctance - as Biel Barceló has noted - should be forgotten. One wonders if it will be. Hers is a peculiar appointment; there are no two ways about it. Even more peculiar, however, is the possibility that she might just be the last Balearic tourism minister. Barceló has suggested there may not be the need for one in future. This is because of all those tourism responsibilities being transferred to the island councils.

So, maybe this is the point we should all get our heads around. Bel isn't opposed to tourism. She's perfectly in favour of it, with other institutions running it. Bel, the tourism minister who called time on the tourism ministry.

No comments: