Wrong-footed

Isn't it incredible how the media misjudged the sense of mourning in Britain for the Queen Mum. The small queues which commentators pointed to proved far larger than most had expected. The sense of public sorrow has even led the Queen to address the nation to thank all involved. While the media judged the mood of the nation following the death of Princess Diana on this occasion they have been completely wrong-footed and even the government, with its spin doctors and PR gurus, were left on the wrong side of the fence. Interesting to see that the BBC, which marked the passing of the Queen Mother in a rather unsombre fashion, has now provided staff with black ties and has obviously taken notice of the complaints made about their coverage. It is difficult to judge the mood of a nation from far-away in another country. By examining the British media you get a certain picture, which in some cases has had to be repainted over the last week. Are we seeing yet another step in the decline of the House of Windsor? I think not, and I would say we are seeing the exact opposite. We are seeing an outpouring of grief but also Thanksgiving for the life of the Queen Mother and for an institution which many had thought was redundant in this modern age. I heard on TV yesterday that the people in the queues were not a cross-section of modern-day London but probably what the media forgets is that London does not encompass the whole of Britain. The death of the Queen Mother was a sad state of affairs but it has also proved some points which mustn't be forgotten and for once those who are allegedly in the know were wrong-footed.

Jason Moore

Tricky tourists beat the tax

The Spanish say where there's a law, there's a trick, I suppose a cunning version of Where there's a will there's a way, (or a family, as my grandmother used to say). The Ecotax, or as it has been called, the Tourist tax, since it is the tourists who should be paying it, will have been approved after the different pamphlets and brochures for 2002 came out. Apparently those tourists who had booked a package holiday and even paid for it, are entitled to cancel this if an unpublished tax is to be included in the total price. This is governed by a norm for package holidays passed in Brussels. So now that the tour operators are informing their clients that as from May 1 the ecotax will be charged, groups of tourists have started to cancel their package reservation, but at the same time, are taking out another booking, taking full advantage of the current offers with up to 20 per cent discounts. Tricky!! The vice-president of the Hotel Federation of Majorca has reported that this option will produce all kinds of offers on the market for last moment reservations with the subsequent negative effects for the hoteliers. It is known that cheap offers produces a massive recovery in bookings, but that many of these visitors come with their purses quite empty and produce little or no income to the island for the complementary services in excursions, entertainment and shopping. The other alternative is that the tourists are cancelling their holiday in the Balearics and changing to mainland Spain. Even less income for Majorca and the other islands. The hoteliers fear the lowest figures for “overnights” as a stay per person per night is called in hotel jargon. Meanwhile the hoteliers, at the same time as they should be deciding the format of the collection of the tax, are presenting their legal appeal against the ecotax ruling in the Balearic Higher Courts. No-one knows what the final outcome will be, what the result on bookings this year will be, or what will happen to package bookings next year. One thing is sure, the hoteliers will not be voting for the Progress Pact in June 2003. I think they might even start calling the President of the Balearics Tricky Antich (pronounced antique).

Anne Kay

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