637

20-08-2013
Dear Tiffany,

The words from Evita “Oh what a circus” sums up exactly what has happened in Majorca with Snr. Antich's Tourist Tax. With tour companies now refusing, quite rightly, to pay the tax the burden as you point out, is now on the hoteliers to pay this. The facts being as above, where is the financial investment from outside Majorca coming from via this tax? The saying that “there is none so blind who don't want to see” could also apply to Snr Antich and his blinkered cohorts. There is no doubt that investment is needed in Majorca, not just in tourism, but in industries such as Majorica. However, Snr Antich & his party seem determined to dismiss any reasonable attempt to discuss the matter, and has now forced this tax through, against the interest of many of Mallorca's inhabitants.

Yours

Tony Grierson

PS. Snr Antich for the British tourists there are more destinations than Majorca. I know, and for the first time I visited the Costa Blanca in January 2002 and had a wonderful holiday. Guess where I'll be going later this year?

· Dear Tony Grierson
I would be happy to answer your questions if I knew exactly what they are! Also a number of your points are political and, as director of the Balearic Tourist Board, I have to make it clear that I am not in a position to engage in political debate. However, I can discuss all matters relating to the promotion of tourism throughout the Balearic Islands, and the innovations which we are making to ensure that we maintain our enviable position as the leading destination in Europe. This is vital for the resident population of the islands and the local economy. The Balearic Tourist Board is responsible for a wide range of activities, and the promotion of every aspect of tourism, including cultural and sporting events, exhibitions and conferences.

Dear Editor

Whilst staying in Majorca last week I was fortunate to obtain a copy of the Daily Bulletin. I found the content remarkably informative, both in relation to events on the Island and elsewhere. I was particularly interested in the offer to refer readers questions to M/s Tiffany Blackman, Director for the Ministry of Tourism. The group with whom I was on holiday had a particular query which caused us to visit the Tourist Office on the beachside at Port d'Alcudia. However, we found the office to be closed up. (We assume that the reason for this is that the main tourist season has not yet commenced.) Consequently the opportunity to ask the question via your publication is especially opportune. It centres on the legal status of the footpath network on Majorca, and particularly the path from Lluc to Massannella - a footpath which we attempted to negotiate. Having walked for an hour or so from Lluc Monastery along a footpath recommended in The Rough Guide to Mallorca & Menorca, we reached the access stile to Coma Freda Farm. There we found a notice saying that “due to circumstances beyond our control” the owners had been forced to introduce a charge. However, there was no sign of anyone administering a charge, so we continued along the footpath. Perhaps half a mile on we approached a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and a man emerged indicating that we were required to pay a charge of four Euros per person. We showed him the relevent section of our Guide Book, which of course makes no reference to a charge. However he was very insistent that we should pay. We considered the charge unreasonable, and chose to retrace our steps, but as you can imagine the experience was unfortunate. In addition - rightly or wrongly - we found the confrontation somewhat intimidating. We would very much welcome M/s Blackman's comments on the legality and ethics of being unable to use a footpath without paying a charge in circumstances where there has apparently been unimpaired access in the past. (As you will know use of a path in England over a period of time results in that route becoming designated a Public Footpath with a legal right of access. Does not the same position apply in Majorca?) One or two general points. First we were sorry to read of the proposed Tourist Tax to enter Majorca. Our holiday was our first visit. Apart from the footpath incident - and unwelcome night visitors in the form of mosquitos in the Alcudia apartment in which we stayed - we found Majorca to be a welcoming and delightful island. We were fairly treated by local tradespeople, and were quite happy to spend money on accommodation, food, transport, gifts etc. We hope that the “footpath tax” and the proposed “Tourist Tax” do not signify that Majorca is becoming a less desirable destination of which tourists will need to be wary in future! Finally, there was a happy end to our footpath encounter. We retraced our steps and just before meeting the Lluc road, continued in the direction away from Coma Freda farm. The footpath gave us a delightful walk through woodland, past the impressive cliffs, and to magnificent panoramic views.

Majorca at its best!

We look forward to M/s Blackman's response to our query.

Yours sincerely,

John Jillings

· Dear John Jillings,
I am pleased to hear, despite a little problem on the way, that you and your companions enjoyed your walk through the finest scenery which Majorca has to offer. May you spread the word that Majorca, apart from its magnificent beaches, has many additional attractions. Concerning rights of way and public access along footpaths, this is a subject very much occupying the minds of government officials. Indeed, it is a question which the Local Council and Balearic Government are making every effort to resolve as part of their ambitious plans to restore and, in some case, re-open a wide network of trails and footpaths for walkers and ramblers of all ages. We are now very happy to announce that this year one of the most significant goals in this respect has been achieved. This is the opening of the 95km long trail from Andraitx to Pollenca along the Serra Tramuntana. With rights of way, there are two main factors at play. The first is that title deeds to land and properties inevitably change hands over the years and generations and, sometimes private owners of land either ignore the existence, or are not aware, of publicly accessible footpaths. The second point is that guide books, no matter how informative and helpful they may be, can get out of date very quickly. It should also be remembered that many such guide books are privately published and do not necessarily reflect every local detail or individual situation. In order to assist those who have detailed questions on this subject, the Consel Insular de Mallorca is responsible for answering enquiries. Tel: (00 34) 971 17 36 45.

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