Santa Margalida's mayor, Joan Monjo, was furious about not getting tourist tax funding.

02-12-2016A. Pol

Uncertainties because of Catalonia
Catalonia couldn't be avoided last week. While there was plenty of talk about the triggering of Article 155, Puigdemont making the independence declaration official, elections to be held and former Balearic presidents voting against 155 in the Senate, there were also plenty of practical issues. Balearic economic growth, already expected to level out next year, could go into reverse because of the crisis, the consequence of general uncertainty and an impact on investment. The Balearic government might also discover that it doesn't receive the level of financing from Madrid that it has budgeted for in 2018. This is because Madrid may be unable to set its own budgets and therefore have to roll the 2017 budget over into next year.


Tourist tax projects
The regional government will, though, be anticipating something of a windfall in 2018 because of the tourist tax. The revenue from the tax this year - the amount allocated to 70 projects - is 64 million euros. If, and it is an if, the doubled rate were to mean a 100% revenue increase, then there will obviously be substantially more available to the government in 2018.

The various projects were confirmed at the start of the week, there having been a whole load which didn't make it onto the final list. We took a close look at one of these - a project in Santa Margalida (and Muro) valued at only 360,000 euros for an archaeological and cultural route which appeared to meet all possible criteria for funding. Why had it failed? The mayor of Santa Margalida, Joan Monjo, was suggesting some sort of political bias. He heads an El Pi and Partido Popular administration. He was also unhappy at what seemed like the government "having a laugh" at a municipality which, courtesy of Can Picafort, generates a substantial amount of tourist tax.


Awkward times for Barceló
The Més contracts affair remained firmly on the political and the prosecutor's agenda. We said that the storm clouds were gathering for Biel Barceló. His ministry, because of the affair, is merely adding to a sense of uncertainty generated in other ways - the tourist tax, rentals' legislation, talk of tourist limits - which he is going to have to contend with at the World Travel Market next month. President Armengol expressed her confidence in Barceló, as Ciudadanos took their turn in going for the jugular.


Airlines in the news
There was a good deal of airline news. The remaining fifty or so Air Berlin employees in Palma learned that they are to be made redundant. Lufthansa's acquisition of at least half of Air Berlin was arousing "competition concerns" that were expressed by both IAG and Ryanair.

The collapse of Monarch has left Minorca without vital UK routes - the island is massively reliant on UK tourism at any time of the year and not just in the off-season. UK airlines were in talks, we were told last week. A couple of weeks ago we had reported that four were on Minorca's wish list. One of them, easyJet, will be holding its discussions this week. Thomas Cook's announcement of a Balearic operation based in Palma naturally created a fair degree of interest. We observed that the announcement had initially seemed surprising, given that the tour operator wing had earlier in the year been muttering about prices in the Balearics and possible diversion of tourists elsewhere. The airline would seem to represent a reinforcement of supply to the tour operator.


The legionella scare
And tour operators were apparently being recommended by Abta not to send holidaymakers to Palmanova. The legionella scare had claimed one life - that of a seventy-year-old British man with major health problems - and resulted in twenty reported cases. Abta denied that they had made any such recommendation; to the Bulletin at least. Local Spanish media insisted otherwise.

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