Blue Flag indifference
There was the annual kerfuffle over the Blue Flags. Some were lost, some were gained. The net result was the same number as last year. It has been speculated that there is some indifference to the award in Majorca. The tourism minister Biel Barceló, we noted, had suggested in 2016 that tourists don't particularly value Blue Flags, and we were rather inclined to agree. What was once a "fantastic initiative" has been overtaken by different standards, including European and national laws. Moreover, quality is now taken to be a given, and if it's lacking, evidence is plastered all over social media that is designed to shame the relevant authority into taking action.
Environmentalist groups, we also pointed out, have had their own beefs with the Blue Flag, arguing that it has lost sight of its original and sole environmental focus on water quality. Beach services of various types are now criteria, and they can be a reason for an award not being made.
This said, any means of guaranteeing environmental quality should be welcomed, and in Majorca we do have issues about, for example, rubbish on beaches: plastic in particular. The regional environment ministry announced that new legislation for the control of waste will include a ban on the sale and distribution of disposable plastic cups, plates and crockery from 2020. A year earlier, prohibition will apply to lightweight plastic bags for single usage, such as in supermarkets. It is a legislative move that rightly seems to have pretty much unanimous support (except perhaps among some retailers).
Eyeing up the tourist tax
The tourist tax was being "eyed up" by the government for a possible increase in 2018. This was in the context of the comparatively small number of taxes that the Balearic government creates compared with other regions. The government is said to be disinclined to create more but is looking at those which are currently available. The fact that the tourist tax might rise further reinforces the notion that it is really a general tax.
Podemos were among those arguing that the tax should be a "genuine ecotax", while as a means of control (the control of tourist numbers), Bel Busquets of Més observed that the tax could "act as a means of adjusting demand".
Fighting holiday rentals' tax evasion
Keen as it is to extract as much tourist tax revenue as possible and to also stop tax evasion, the government will be assisting the Tax Agency in what was described as a major campaign to be directed at holiday rentals. Moreover, the holiday rentals' legislation, we learned, is to place the burden of proof on owners to demonstrate that short-term lets genuinely adhere to the terms of the tenancy act, a move which Josep Melia of El Pi called unconstitutional and a "scandal".
The Tax Agency campaign, drawing on the assistance of the national fraud office, will be an "intensive" one, it was said. And it may well be. The point is that we have heard much the same thing each summer for the last goodness knows how many years.
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