The poor timing of rentals' enforcement
It was the timing as much as anything. The government gave websites fifteen days to remove adverts for illegal holiday lets. When it became clear that owners were heeding the advice of the Aptur holiday rentals' association and deleting their ads and also cancelling bookings, the timing seemed even more unfortunate. Holidaymakers were left wondering about their reservations. Owners were panicking. The government spoke about additional inspectors. There were constant reminders of the fines.
It was reminiscent of the introduction of the tourist tax. Like the tax, there had been plenty of advance notice about the new legislation. It nevertheless took many by surprise. And like the tourist tax, it was a surprise of the summer tourism season.
Some wondered why there was such a fuss. The legislation was merely enforcing what already existed but which hadn't been forcefully acted upon. This was true up to a point. But the legislation was reinforcement. Establishing a minimum of thirty days for an apartment let was the real killer. The tenancy act, used legitimately by some but abused by others, had been given a Balearic interpretation. When the realisation dawned, there was panic. Meanwhile, holidaymakers were left bewildered and owners faced the prospect of a penalty double-whammy. Short-notice cancellations of rentals on the main accommodation websites can incur charges.
Delirium in the Balearics
Seemingly almost incidental to the impact on rentals was the government's creation of a limit on tourist accommodation places. With remarkable precision it was able to announce that in Majorca this is 435,707. Congress in Madrid picked up on this. Rafael Hernando of the Partido Popular accused the Balearic government of a form of "delirium". What was the government going to do? Put up gates and wire fences to stop any tourists over that number entering?
Dealing with anti-tourism
The PP, in the form of Mariano Rajoy and the national tourism minister, Alvaro Nadal, had their says on "tourismphobia". Nadal was wanting the state attorney-general to become involved in pursuing the "vandalism" of Arran and other groups.
In Majorca, the latest little stunt was the placing of stickers with anti-tourism messages on hire cars. There was evidence of some very minor protests (mainly just graffiti) in parts of Spain previously unaffected by so-called tourismphobia. These were probably just copycat incidents and they lent weight to a feeling that far too much was being made of Arran and other tiny groups of agitators. The UK media was doing all it could to overhype the situation: there were riots when there had been no such thing.
The anti-tourism theme was all over the Spanish media. The national government was being blamed for its failures in tourism policy; tour operators were at fault; the rentals' industry was the source; analyses were being made of the causes of anti-tourism. There was an awful lot of talk, and one respected commentator said that the tourismphobia debate was pathetic. In the end, everyone else is blamed.
While the problems at Palma airport with queues at passport control seemed to have mostly evaporated (social media was full of stories of no delay), the strike by personnel with the company responsible for the security checks at Barcelona's El Prat was putting ever greater pressure on the Madrid government. The Guardia Civil were being brought in to deal with security controls.
The ministry of development, which has responsibility for airports and air transport, found itself facing the threat of more disruption. Three unions announced that there will be 24-hour stoppages by different categories of airport staff from the middle of September. The unions were insisting that workers should benefit from the increased profits of the airports authority Aena and of Enaire, the company which holds the government's 51% stake in Aena.
The Balearic government, meantime, was once more pressing its case for co-management of the islands' airports. A letter had been sent to Madrid, but no response had been forthcoming. Rajoy, who was in Palma on Monday for a meeting with King Felipe, gave the idea of co-management short shrift. The regional government believes that co-management would give it a way of controlling the number of arrivals and so get a grip with "saturation". The tourist tax would also be easier to gather (in theory, at any rate) if there were collection at the airports.
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