The principal image of last week was that of queues at passport control.

12-07-2017

Passport control chaos
Images of queues at passport control were in Tuesday's edition. And the queues were still there by Thursday. On Friday, the queues images were replaced with one of a National Police officer staring longingly at unused passport scanners. Things were a nightmare on Tuesday and the nightmare lingered to Wednesday, by when it was being announced that dozens were missing flights because of the queues.

The police union blamed EU regulations: 2017/458, which involve much stricter physical passport controls for non-European Union and Schengen residents, such as the British. "We didn’t invent the law, the EU did." The union also blamed reductions to police numbers and wanted Aena to stagger flights and so ease the pressure.

Aena said that it would work with the police to improve the situation, but meanwhile most of the blame was being attached to Spain's interior ministry for not having had the foresight to have anticipated the problem and provide greater police manpower. The police added that it was known that the problem would arise, which made the ministry's embarrassment even greater. And Aena, as well as Abta in the UK, could also have foreseen that there would be much more strain on passport control because of the increased number of flights and of tourists.


Too many vehicles
There were queues of a different variety: queues of traffic. It was said that there will be more than one million vehicles on Balearic roads this summer, the vast majority of them on Majorcan roads. Among these million plus will be 120,000 hire cars - a figure that one had to take on trust. The Balearic government has consistently said that it doesn't know how many hire cars there are.

All these vehicles were adding to the traffic pressure on the via cintura motorway. The busiest stretch, we were informed, was between the Inca motorway intersection and the Soller exit. There again, the intersection - in the Andratx direction (far less so for the airport) - has been a complete disaster for years.  

The implication was that all the hire cars are a significant contributory factor in bringing the motorway to a standstill. Hire cars are part of the "tourist saturation" story and a consequence of so many holiday rentals.


Holiday rentals
The president of Aptur, the holiday rentals association, argued that rentals aren't the main cause of saturation (in general terms). He also took issue with aspects of the holiday rentals' legislation, describing as "disproportionate" the proposed fines of up to 40,000 euros for unlicensed properties being advertised and rented out.

The legislation should be approved on Tuesday, but we noted that Podemos were making certain demands which might just delay the approval. We suggested that this might have been some more last-minute grandstanding by Podemos - they have engaged in this with previous legislation - but accepted that they had a point that this legislation can't be seen in isolation from other bills planned by the government, such as the new housing law.  

PSOE, meanwhile, were preparing for their congress this coming weekend, at which plans for the 2019 election will be discussed. Among measures on the agenda are ones for tourism. The party, led by President Armengol, seems to now accept a need for limits to tourist numbers, while it also appears to support a raising of the tourist tax rate: this may even double, if Podemos have their way.


Illegals, Alcudia and Magalluf
In other news, the national government's delegation to the Balearics announced that 90% of illegal immigrants arriving by small boat from north Africa have been deported over the past eighteen months. The numbers have risen alarmingly; more than 50 people have been detained this month alone. We highlighted the deplorable situation with holidaying Spanish students in Alcudia. These organised holidays, under the name Mallorca Island Festival, have now finished, which will be a relief to residents, businesses (and indeed other tourists) in Alcudia's main tourism centre. In Magalluf, bars and restaurants were dealing with smelly drains, while Calvia town hall was considering taking The Sun to court for libelling the local police and having described Magalluf as a war zone.

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Teresa / Hace 4 months

I have just come back from a visit to Palma. The photos consistently used for this story, including this one, is deliberately misleading as it does not 'reflect' the fact that this image is taken into a mirror, making the queue seem enormous. We were met by a similar queue when we arrived on Saturday and we were through passport control within 15 minutes. For our return flight there were queues in security at Palma but again we were through in about 15 minutes again. It often takes a lot longer than this at Gatwick but you don't see that in the newspapers. What is this story really about? Queues at airports or to make us think the Europeans, especially the Spanish, are picking on us?

+1-

Dave / Hace 4 months

We came through this morning. Ten minutes wait. But the queue behind us was back to the duty free area. Straight away extra officers were brought in. Well done Pmi

+2-

Natalie Hilton / Hace 4 months

The last time i was on Majorca was in 2013, and i resented paying a tourist tax as i could not see any sign of what my money was being used for. Also the idea of limiting tourists to the island is laughable if not a complete non starter of a drunken idea. As was said by someone once, be careful what you wish for.

+0-

John P / Hace 4 months

The only people to sort out passport control is the taxi drivers or lucky,lucky men men.Lets face it they run the island,can do what they want.Is it only Brits that the airport and police are picking on. Cannot understand why the locals just accept ineptitude from THEIR politicians and police

+4-

Chris D / Hace 4 months

A large portion of the population only works from April to the end of October and then all many of them do when the masses turn up is moan and blame them for making the place too busy. Even if 5 % of tourists are put off by their complacent and disorganised attitude, on top of the tax rises, it will hit the locals hard. There are many places where people can go and spend their hard earned money whilst being made to feel welcome.

+1-

Chris D / Hace 4 months

A large portion of the population only works from April to the end of October and then all many of them do when the masses turn up is moan and blame them for making the place too busy. Even if 5 % of tourists are put off by their complacent and disorganised attitude, on top of the tax rises, it will hit the locals hard. There are many places where people can go and spend their hard earned money whilst being made to feel welcome.

+4-

S. / Hace 4 months

The Passport delay, at Palma Airport of at least 3 Hours on arrival, and 2 Hours on departure, has become the Main News item on UK TV this morning (Monday 17/07/17 ). It has emphasised the lackadaisical attitude the the Police and Palma authorities in Mallorca this Season. BUT PUT THE TOURIST TAX UP!!!. Pay for more passport control staff ?. ( No way !!!)

+8-