The stupidity of the shop opening hours and days in Majorca was clearly illustrated on Sunday. Moored at Palma's Dique del Oeste were two of the biggest cruise liners in the world, both owned by P&O and a smaller Cunard liner, next to the Club de Mar. Roughly speaking we are talking about 4'000 people armed with hundreds of pounds in hard currency (Please note, these holidaymakers are the big spenders and, according to official figures they spend three times more than their package counterparts They are also the type of tourist Majorca allegedly wants to attract). The weather was fine and it was a golden opportunity for many to beat the summer blues and increase their takings. Unfortunately, it was Sunday and all shops were closed. I watched the steady trail of cruise passengers heading into Palma on what was a beautiful day. Hours later they returned empty handed because good old Palma shuts up shop on Sunday and you get the impression they wouldn't even open for the Sultan of Brunei. If I were a cruise passenger I would be rather annoyed that I was unable to buy a single souvenir to record my visit to the island.

We are a tourist destination and depend on tourist cash. With a bit of co-ordination many shopkeepers could have made a mint yesterday. But unfortunately there is none and the liners sailed into the horizon with wallets and purses full. Another opportunity lost. I bet shopkeepers in others tourist areas are not so short sighted. But unfortunately in Majorca you have to shop when the shopkeeper allows you, not the other way around.

Jason Moore

The “non-rich” made Majorca
Dear Sir,
I have just returned home after 4 weeks in Cala Millor where I have been visiting for 30 years and in fact have owned a property for the last 20 years. I have been following the various letters and comments that have been made recently and I am amazed that Maria Antonia Munar can actually be in such a high position and make such idiotic comments about the class of tourists that should be attracted to Majorca. Does she not realise that it is the non rich people who have visited over the last 40 years that have created wealth for the Majorcan people who worked very hard at making Majorca attactive by offering services to meet their needs? It is these tourists who have created the need for construction work in the winter as well as the tourist industry in the summer. These so called rich people do not in fact contribute a great deal overall when you consider that the people she wants to get rid of spend something in the region of 1 month's salary for their annual holiday of 2 weeks. Do these rich people ever get away from their yachts and marinas or the golf courses to see the splendour of this beautiful island and to spend some of their money in local bars and shops in the interior of the island? Do they contribute to the economy by paying their taxes, rates, community fees and wealth taxes like the people who actually have property all over the island? Instead of golf and marinas, what is needed is for money to be spent on rebuilding the beaches, creating leisure activities for all different needs like bowls, skating, theme parks, skateboarding etc etc which could be used by locals and tourist alike thus creating an opportunity to intergrate with each other. But please consider the whole island not just the southern parts. Maybe Maria Antonia Munar should emigrate to the Seychelles or Hawaii to find the kind of people that she considers important.

A G Cameron. Lincolnshire. By e-mail

What is the UN really for?


Dear Sir, Echoing the agenda of pre-War pacifists, who looked to the discredited League of Nations to confront the menace of Nazism, Ray Fleming (Bulletin, Saturday, October 19) continues to blindly pin his faith for a resolution to threats posed by Saddam Hussein on the machination of the United Nations. Yes, a world body that provides an international voice of reason and can act as the arbiter of justice everywhere for all mankind is an excellent notion, as the founding fathers of the League of Nations similarly deduced when the dust had settled following the First World War.

But let's put today's UN into context and see it for what it really is.
At its head is the Ghanaian nonentity, Kofi Annan, a mouthpiece for the so-called “non-aligned” bloc of disparate nations, who ceaselessly castigate the West - notably America and Britain - one minute, then hold out the begging bowl for further aid the next, knowing full well that most of the moolah will percolate into the pockets of assorted satraps, tyrants, dictators and religio-fascists for whom freedom and democracy haven't the faintest resonance.

Meanwhile, Annan presides over an unwieldy, ineffectual, budget-busting bureaucracy that's tainted with corruption and nepotism. Contemporary examples of some of the UN's “good works” include: Blue-capped Dutch troops standing aside, while Serbian irregulars massacre 5'000 unarmed Muslims in Srebrenitsa; direct UN participation in the sex-slave trade in the Balkans; massive embezzlement by UN appointees in Kosovo; a UN cover-up of the sex-for-food aid racket in West Africa involving children as young as four; a UN-fuelled explosion of AIDS and prostitution in Cambodia; the refugee extortion racket in Kenya; and UN complicity in massacres in pre-liberated Afghanistan.

I could go on to include the biased ravings of the UN's local representative on the West Bank, after Israel besieged the Palestinian terrorism and bomb-making capital, Jenin. His claims of a “massacre involving hundreds, maybe thousands” were eventually laughed out of court after even Yasser Arafat could only produce evidence of 56 fatalities, almost entirely restricted to Hamas/Islamic Jihad gunmen and Israel soldiers.

And so onto the beast of Baghdad, a tyrant, aggressor, genocidist and as genuine a threat to world peace as there possibly exists today, whose rights to continue maiming and murdering are consequentially defended by Ray Fleming until the UN deems it - if ever - legal to do otherwise.

Fleming is also at pains to emphasize the view of those so-called “nonaligned” nations - a handy euphemism for Arab and African countries, who wouldn't recognise a democratic principle if one hit them in the face - and their insistence that an attack on Saddam would, “destabilise the whole Arab region”.

This, however, is the very nub of the issue and the question that should be asked by all those of genuine conscience is: How long is the world - regardless of the politicised legal tinsel of the UN - prepared to tolerate the people of an entire region being abused and downtrodden by a melange of feudal monarchies and repressive, corrupt despots?

So the sooner President George W. Bush and his commonsensical allies, notably Tony Blair, upset the Mid-East applecart and ram a good dose of real democracy down the throats of poor people yearning for a chance to free themselves of the shackles of oppression, the better for all of us.

Hugh Ash. Portals Nous

The taxing question

A lot has been said and written about the ecotax, or nicknamed the tourist tax, since it is the people who stay in hotels who pay it.
Just a short acclaration since I have seen letters to the editor from people who say it is an unfair tax because not all the hotels charge it.
In this case, it does not mean that the Balearic Government has not charged it, but rather the hotel has preferred to assimilate the tax and not pass it onto the client. The probable reason for that is that the hotel owners decided to appeal against the tax and hope that in the end they will not have to pay up.

Another case is when the hotels charge the guests but then give them back a coupon for free drinks in the bar, which naturally represents an equivalent amount for the client, but only a small discount for the hotel owner. The third case is naturally the hotels who charge the tax, and that's that.

In this latter case, presumably if the hoteliers win their appeal against the tax, they would really be obliged to return any tax charged to hotel guests.

However, what I am amazed to find out is that the ecotax has resulted in the Balearic Government earning 16 per cent more money from autonomic taxes, which total 23 million euros up to September.

It really is a large percentage of their income, especially when you consider that every euro that visitors to the islands spend already includes VAT, which does go to the central government, but eventually filters back to the autonomous government in their share, although they would like to have a higher share.

Other autonomous taxes are generated by transfer taxes, every time someone sells a house, land, car, boat, etc.; inheritance and donation tax; wealth tax and also taxation on the presentation of any other kind of legal document to the “Govern Balear”.

The greatest part comes from transfer taxes that have collected nearly 115 million euros up to September this year.
All these are obviously paid for by residents or semi residents who have mostly property or vehicles, or their heirs.
The eco tax, however is paid by those who come only to stay a short while.
Therefore, when people complain that those visitors to the islands, staying in private homes or boats, do not pay any “tourist tax” I think it could be only fair to remind them that owners of property, vehicles, boats, etc pay their contributions towards the Balearic Government's coffers in other ways.

Anne Kay

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