|Sunday-Monday 29-30 March, 2015 Edition #4619|
The Germanwings crash
It was one of those moments on Tuesday morning when a major incident flashed up in the newsroom and speculation was immediately rife. Initially scant information of the “horror air crash in the French Alps” was soon fleshed out, and the story of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was being revealed. For Carol Bramley from Santa Ponsa there was a different story. It was equally tragic. Her son Paul had been on board, ,the Germanwings flig travelling from Barcelona where he had been taking a few days holiday with friends. “Paul was a kind, caring and loving son. He was the best son, he was my world.” RIP.
Three days of official mourning were declared by the Spanish Government, which led to the cancellation of all official engagements and events in the Balearics, including the conference on responsible tourism that had been due to take place in Paguera. The Majorcan Hotel Federation also called off engagements. Inmaculada de Benito of the federation described the crash as “a very sad time for the international tourist industry”.
Palma the best?
At times of such loss and sadness, brighter news for the tourist industry seemed somehow unimportant, but it was there nonetheless, and had come courtesy of The Sunday Times. On Tuesday Jason Moore thanked the paper for its accolade: Palma is the best place in the world to live. Humphrey Carter explained why he was proud to live in this best city, but the accolade did give rise to considerable debate across social media and also in the paper. On Friday Jason Moore and Ray Fleming offered differing perspectives. Is Palma really the best place? Jason had no doubts. Ray was sceptical, noting that “best of” listings “can only be very general in character”. In the Week in Tourism column on the same day, Andrew Ede noted that, as far as tourists were concerned (those whose reviews matter to Trip Advisor that is), Palma didn’t feature in the top ten of Travellers’ Choices in Europe for 2015. Istanbul was number one, while Benidorm was tenth.
Still, if there were any doubts about Palma’s claim, they were dispelled with an eight-page special in yesterday’s edition with contributions which included those from Palma’s deputy mayor, Alvaro Gijon, Heidi Stadler of leading real estate agency First Mallorca, and regular Bulletin columnists Anna Nicholas and historian Andy Rawson.
There was another special on Friday. This one highlighted the extraordinary exhibition in Cala Ratjada that was officially inaugurated yesterday. It features eleven sculptures by the Pollensa-based artist Joan Bennàssar, these being female figures which evoke an ancient Majorcan past.
The open-air exhibition on the resort’s promenade is representative of a trend towards offering “emotional and unique experiences in public spaces”. The exhibition was also given prominence in our Tuesday What’s On section, which has been expanded in order to give greater information about events across the island.
Hyatt’s luxury resort
Of new developments for tourism, that of Meliá in Magalluf has dominated the agenda, leaving others which have rather slipped under the radar. On Sunday Humphrey Carter spoke with John Beveridge, who is the newly appointed general manager of the luxury Park Hyatt Mallorca resort which will open in Canyamel next year. John explained that the complex is being created to “evoke a Majorcan hilltop village” and, with sustainable and responsible tourism being the theme that it now is, he emphasised the fact that Hyatt is “very keen” to involve the local community and to ensure that there will be as much sourcing of local produce as possible.
The Andalusia election
Jason Moore reminded the international community yesterday of the need to register votes in the elections in May. Though for most this means only being able to vote in town hall elections, regional and national politics have their influence locally. In Andalusia last Sunday, PSOE came first in the regional election there. Did it offer an indication as to how subsequent votes might go? Yes and no. Andalusia is unusual in having only ever known PSOE governments, but the socialist party suffered a fall in its share of the vote, while the Partido Popular lost 17 seats in the parliament and newcomers Podemos and Ciudadanos together had 25% of the share of the vote.
The week that was
By Andrew Ede
The men who didn’t come to dinner
Joan Huguet is a member of the Partido Popular old guard, the one that took a more conciliatory view of Catalan language and culture in Majorca than the new guard, whose membership appears to be limited to a handful: President Bauzá, “Nipper” Gómez, the vice-president, and others who owe everything to José Ramón for their salaries. Huguet had a trip conveniently planned for Friday. He wouldn’t therefore be going to dinner. He wasn’t the only one.
The dinner in question was one to which old guards had been invited by the new in a desperate attempt to get them back on board the badly listing PP Balearics. This old guard has another collective name - “the aggrieved” - their noses having been firmly put out of joint by Bauzá and the new kids. Could a nice dinner prove to be a palliative for the peeved proboscis of the PP?
Bauzá is increasingly desperate. It isn’t just the opinion polls that are making him so. The loss of support from within the party has been great.
Aggrieved old guards like the father of the party and of Balearics autonomous government, Gabriel Cañellas, have been so disaffected that they have stopped talking to José Ramón. Cañellas was only going to dinner if there were to be genuine attempts to mend fences and to put the noses back into joint.
But what sort of a dinner would this have been? In a show of respect for the old guard, it needed to be one of traditional Catalan-Majorcan cuisine. None of this Madrid-style fancy-dan stuff or, worse still, dishes with a Galician flavour: roast Rajoy; Mariano in a marinade. Bauzá was going to have to eat humble pie, followed by a plate full of botifarra and a crema Catalana dessert. Strangely, on Friday morning Bauzá absented himself from the meeting of the cabinet, citing an “indisposition”. Maybe he had been checking the menu arrangements.
Disillusionment is at its greatest out in the Majorcan sticks. It is here that the old guard is needed the most, but the sticks are becoming ever more of a sticking point of disagreement with Bauzáism. In Alaro and Vilafranca, events of the past week could see the PP “disappear” from the local political map. This is because the PP mayors of the two towns are required by Bauzá rules to not re-stand as mayor if they are “imputado”, i.e. under investigation for possible misdemeanours. In Vilafranca the PP has already broken ranks in supporting the mayor and created another party. Alaro may well follow. So could Pollensa. In Consell four PP councillors have jumped ship and created an “unassigned” party. This isn’t because anyone is “imputado”; they’ve just had enough of Bauzá.
The Vilafranca case has echoes of the great fallout between Bauzá and Jaume Font ahead of the last election. Font was at one point “imputado”. Bauzá said he couldn’t be a PP candidate, so Font took his bat home and went off and formed his own party. History is repeating itself.
Bauzá should deserve some sympathy. He established an ethical code which made it clear what “imputado” would mean for prospective candidates.
However, he may find himself acquiring this very status, if not before the election then after it, and the “caso Farmacias” which has given rise to this possibility took a twist on Thursday when Bauzá’s accuser, the pharmacist Cristòfol Pons, told a court that Bauzá had given “express instructions” to his “inferior”, the health minister Marti Sansaloni, to not put out to tender the rights to some 40 new pharmacies. Pons also said that Bauzá did not want new pharmacies opening in Marratxi, where he owns a chemist shop. Sympathy for Bauzá?
The fast disappearing UPyD
I f the PP in the Balearics is showing signs of imploding, spare a thought for the UPyD (Unión Progreso y Democracia). If it manages to survive as long as May in order to take part in the regional elections, it will have done well, mutiny having broken out following a dismal showing in the Andalusia election last Sunday. Four members of its ruling committee resigned on Monday, alarmed by this performance but also angered by a refusal by the committee to approve the formation of a pact with Ciudadanos. The possibility of such an alignment was raised several months ago but it was turned down, and the Andalusia result just confirms what had been widely suspected: the UPyD is being eclipsed by Ciudadanos to the point of annihilation.
These two parties were formed at roughly the same time. Neither is yet ten years old, but Ciudadanos, breaking out of its Catalonia heartland in order to take part in elections across Spain, has performed astonishingly well, whereas the UPyD has performed astonishingly badly. A problem for the UPyD is that it occupies similar political territory, and its lousy showing in Andalusia demonstrates that there really is only room for one new party of the centre. If the UPyD were to disappear, it may be no bad thing, not because it doesn’t have something to offer (it has come up with some decent proposals) but because it would make the political landscape altogether less confusing and cluttered.
Magalluf is not Palma
W ith the citizens of Palma having woken up on Monday and discovered that a British Sunday newspaper was telling them that they lived in the best city in the world, they were doubtless able to adopt a superior air to the citizenry of a part of Calvia just along the coast. Yes, the flesh pots and dens of iniquity of old Magalluf town were back in the news. The Palma folk had “The Sunday Times” on their side. Magalluf sorts had to make do with The Mail, and because it was The Mail, the news was far from good. The party hasn’t stopped in Magalluf after all. No amount of Calvia Town Hall rules on street drinking, jumping off balconies, pub crawls are going to stop the youth of Britain taking delight in being ashamed of what they get up to in Maga this summer. Or so the message from The Mail went. The head of the local hoteliers’ association, Sebastià Darder, may have been saying last week that another summer “of scandals” cannot be allowed to occur, but there would appear to be those who beg to differ. Bring on the scandals. And what do you know, there will be no shortage of “moles” knocking around Magalluf willing to take the Dacre or Murdoch shilling in ensuring that the scandals make it into the British red tops. Mark my word.
23 million flight seats to Palma
By Humphrey Carter
Spanish airport authority AENA announced yesterday that 23 million flight seats are going to be available in and out of Palma this summer.The figures represent an increase of 0.9 percent in comparison to last year and the biggest growth is going to be witnessed in the domestic market, notthe international sector.
According to AENA, the number of seats available on domestic airlines to Palma is going to be around five million this summer, 14.5 percent more than last year.
The number of flight movements Palma’s Son San Joan airport will handle is also going to rise by 2.8 percent to 132,000.
The market showing the second highest increase, after the domestic market, is Austria.
Some 486,000 seats will be available onboard flights to and from Austria this summer, 6.6 percent more than last year while the French market has also increased its flight capacity to nearly 730,000 seats, 5.4 percent up on last season.
This summer, Palma will be served by a total of 308 air routes.
259 of those will be between European destinations, 46 will be connections to the mainland and three will be direct flights to Africa.
British buyer numbers in Spain set to fall if UK has European referendum
The number of Britons buying abroad could tumble as the UK flirts with the prospect of an EU exit.
The majority of Britons think overseas property is an unsecure investment, with one in three claiming an EU exit would put them off buying in the Eurozone, according to a YouGov survey.
Despite the euro’s record slide against the pound, finance expert Jordan Tilley says Britons are not getting “caught up in a European buying frenzy”.
“The findings suggest the British are still cautious about committing to property in the Eurozone, and need a better understanding of the market before they can take the leap,” Tilley said.
“A year ago, a property worth €180,000 would have set you back £150,000 – this month, a weak euro means that figure would be more like £128,000.
“Still, with Greece’s debt talks rumbling on and the possibility of a Brexit referendum following May’s general election, many buyers are wise enough to know that the dream of a European place in the sun is best undertaken with a full knowledge of the risks.”