The week started with the optimistic forecasts of Jorge Marichal, president of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation. Boosted by the elimination of various travel and health restrictions, Jorge said the forecast for Easter was “very positive”. He noted that the domestic market was working very well, while the international market was recovering rapidly. Sun and beach holidays remained Easter favourites, especially with foreign visitors, but rural tourism was also in demand, particularly from Spanish nationals. That said, the hotel industry remains concerned about inflation and ongoing unrest in Ukraine. Due to the airspace closures, Spain was losing more than 1.4 million Russian tourists – 2% of the total – who tend to come with “greater spending capacity”.
On Monday, HM Passport Office urged travelers not to leave applications to the last minute. As international travel returns to normal, demand is at an all time high and it could take up to ten weeks to receive a new blue UK passport. To travel to Spain, passports must be less than ten years old from the “date of issue” on the day of your entry and be valid for at least three months (check the “expiry date”) after the day of your departure. If you renewed your passport earlier, remember that the extra months added to a ten-year passport may not count.
Concern about lack of hotel workers
On Tuesday we were alerted to the fact that many hotels in the Balearic Islands were opening without having enough staff. The pandemic has forced workers to leave the industry and find greater job security elsewhere, resulting in a lack of candidates for hotels. The finger was also pointed at the high price of accommodation in tourist resorts, prompting some workers to look elsewhere in Spain. One solution could be for hotel companies to buy or rent apartments on behalf of their employees, without falling into the trap of “piso patera” (overcrowded unsanitary apartments). Bars and restaurants face the same problem. Eugenia Cusí, president of PIMEM-Restauración (small and medium-sized catering companies in Mallorca) said the lack of waiters and chefs was very worrying: “Workers are leaving the sector because companies cannot guarantee them stability; there is a lot of uncertainty”.
On Tuesday, more than 3.3 tons of drugs went up in smoke. 3 tons of hashish seized by the Guardia Civil in Ibiza last month, 280 kg of cannabis buds from a national police operation in Palma and 100 kg of coffee mixed with cocaine confiscated by customs, have all been destroyed at the Son Reus incinerator. The government delegate in the Balearic Islands, Ramón Morey, said: “It hasn’t been three or four months (since a significant amount of narcotics was incinerated in January) and we already have material to destroy again, which reveals work intensity.
Return flights at near-record levels
After revealing that Palma airport welcomed one million passengers in March, just 15% less than in 2019, Spanish airport authority AENA has announced that we are ready for a near-record Easter weekend. . From Good Friday to Monday, 1,914 international arrivals and departures were expected at the airport, down slightly from 2,039 in 2019, considered a record year. According to data from Palma-based Dingus and TravelgateX, the Balearic Islands led Easter bookings in crucial tourism markets: Germany, the UK, France and Scandinavia. So it’s perhaps no surprise to learn that Mallorca recently took the top spot in TripAdvisor’s “Top 10 Trending Destinations in the World for 2022”. Cairo was second, Rhodes third and Ibiza in a more than respectable sixth place.
Bragging rights for UK tabloids
On Wednesday, British tabloids jumped at this rare opportunity to brag that parts of the UK would be warmer than Mallorca and Ibiza for Easter. The Met Office predicted a mild 21°C in the south-east on Good Friday, compared to 20°C in Mallorca and 18°C in Ibiza. On the other hand, he also issued a warning to hay fever sufferers for high pollen levels.
Lockdown party fines
There were no such boasts for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, however. Both were fined by the Metropolitan Police for breaking their own government’s COVID-19 rules and attending parties during the lockdown. Boris is believed to be the first sitting prime minister in history to break the law. His wife Carrie was also fined.
On Wednesday, the news was rather better for RCD Mallorca as Palma City Council extended the club’s use of the Son Moix stadium for another 25 years. This extends the existing 40-year deal which came into effect in 1999 until 2064. Plans for a comprehensive €20m remodel have also been given the green light. Work will begin on May 16 and will include the removal of the athletics track to bring football fans closer to the game. Other stands will be built in its place.
High demand for car rental
Despite fears that the war in Ukraine will have a negative impact on Easter tourism, the president of the Association of Car Rental Companies (AEVAB), Ramón Reus, said on Wednesday that the reservation of vehicles was at 85% for the following five days – and is expected to increase with last -minute demand. Some businesses were struggling to satisfy the strong appetite due to a shortage of cars – a shortage that will become acute in July and August. There are around 50,000 fewer cars in the Balearic Islands than in 2019, resulting in steep price increases of up to 300%. Meanwhile, the police are carrying out an Easter week crackdown on ‘pirate taxis’ at Palma airport. They will patrol drop-off and pick-up points and could impose fines ranging from 6,001 to 12,000 euros on those who provide public discretionary passenger services without the required authorization. Needless to say, legitimate taxi drivers were already benefiting from high tourist numbers, with poor weather on Wednesday also helping to boost revenue.
Very expensive Balearics
Data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) released on Wednesday revealed that the consumer price index (CPI) in the Balearic Islands had climbed to 9.4% in March compared to the previous year – the most high since 1985. Rising electricity, fuel and food prices are to blame. Likewise, the cost of housing in the Balearic Islands continues to rise, whether renting or buying. According to the Tinsa IMIE (Spanish Real Estate Markets Index), the sale price of new and second-hand homes in the Balearic Islands recorded a year-on-year increase of 5.9% during the month of March.
The Maundy Thursday Crowd
The largest of Palma’s Easter processions, Crist de la Sang (Christ of the Blood), took place on Thursday evening – the first time since 2019. The five-hour procession brought together 5,000 members of the city’s 33 brotherhoods and attracted a large number of spectators. . On the other hand, the Spanish royal house announced that they would not attend any official engagement in Mallorca over Easter. Apart from 2020 and 2021, it has been a tradition since 1995 for the royal family to attend Easter Sunday mass at Palma Cathedral. Back in the UK, Queen Elizabeth said she would not be attending Royal Maundy Day or the traditional Easter Sunday services at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. She turns 96 next week.
Hot in Mallorca
Despite gloomy forecasts from British tabloids, high temperatures of 24C were confirmed in Mallorca on Friday, beating the 23C recorded at St James’s Park in London. The good weather is expected to continue through the weekend and into Monday.
And finally, the Guardia Civil is appealing for help in locating a stolen black Lamborghini Huracán. The 250,000 euro supercar was snatched from an address in Calvià on April 6. Anyone with information should get in touch, given an assurance of “total discretion and anonymity”.