The new Balearic Tourist Law is already a reality. The Parliament has approved this Tuesday a regulation with which the Government seeks to advance on the path towards sustainability, mitigate the effects of climate change – to whose effects the Balearic Islands is especially vulnerable – and maintain an environmental and economic balance in the archipelago. The most far-reaching novelties introduced by the Law lie in the freezing of tourist places for the next four years and the incorporation of circularity criteria in terms of water, materials, food, energy and waste.
Francina Armengol: “The Kellys have fought hard for us, we have to improve their working conditions”
Not without pitfalls, the text has reached the end of its parliamentary process with the admission of amendments from different groups that modify, among other aspects, the condition of reducing the number of seats by 5% in order to carry out reforms and modernizations, a requirement From which establishments with less than 150 rooms will finally be exempt. This is a change made after the parties that support the Government (PSIB-PSOE, MÉS per Mallorca and United We Can) closed an agreement with Ciudadanos, which claimed to minimize the limitations in this regard as much as possible.
Another of the modifications introduced in the norm, after another agreement reached with the PI and the approval of the hoteliers of Mallorca, provides that the establishments or plots may change their use and become for socio-sanitary, administrative, office or housing use. . In the latter case, 30 percent must be reserved for protected housing if they are located on empty lots, a percentage that will rise to 50% if there is already a previous building.
Vice President Yllanes, absent
The debate has had a notable absence, that of the Vice President of the Government and Minister of Energy Transition, Productive Sectors and Democratic Memory, Juan Pedro Yllanes, who has decided not to go to the chamber as an “awareness gesture” considering that the energy transition should have had a greater weight in the new regulations. Sources from the Vice Presidency have indicated that Yllanes shares “the essence” of the Law and that he appreciates the work of the Minister for the Economic Model, Tourism and Labor, Iago Negueruela. However, Yllanes considers that the text should contemplate a greater commitment of the tourism sector in terms of climate change and energy transition.
During her speech at the plenary session, the President of the Government, Francina Armengol, praised the work carried out in recent months to carry out a Law that she considered “brave, committed and innovative” and that “for the first time sets the emphasis on environmental regeneration, workers’ rights and quality over quality”.
For his part, Negueruela stressed that this new regulation will define “the tourist framework and, to a large extent, the social framework” of the Balearic Islands for the coming years. It is a “demanding, complete, comprehensive and ambitious” Law, as underlined by the also spokesman for the Government, who has stated that, in order to agree on its content, from the Executive “we have listened and, above all, we have learned from all the agents” social, political and economic that have intervened in the negotiations of the text. “It has been an enormous amount of work, believe me, that has allowed us to get here today,” he stressed.
Regarding the discrepancies that have arisen during these months, Negueruela has alluded to a quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (“Let’s not ask if we fully agree, only if we walk the same path”), since he has described the Law as a “reference ” that has aroused the interest of Andorra, the Valencian Community or the Generalitat de Catalunya. “A few small islands in the middle of the Mediterranean have raised their voices about how the tourism model should be”, he has elaborated, highlighting that the Balearic Islands have achieved an “enviable position on a global scale”. “The time has come to go one step further. We are facing a paradigm shift in the happiness industry, as the economist Antón Costas would define it”, he highlighted.
The PP, against
The main criticisms against the Law have been launched from the ranks of the PP, which, among other issues, considers that the moratorium is “an attack on free competition, the free market and small businessmen” and criticizes that the regulations “fire against the main social lift in the Balearic Islands and a generator of great opportunities”, alluding to tourism. “We must not penalize those who invest, those who pay taxes and create jobs,” added the formation, which maintains that up to 90,000 vacation rental places could disappear with the new Law, an extreme that Negueruela has flatly denied.
In relation to the illegal offer, the PP deputy Juan Manuel Lafuente has accused the Government of “persecuting” legal businesses because “it is easier to persecute and impose fines” than to propose a study on the illegal offer. In this line, he has called for “clear and simple rules” that favor competition.
The Minister, however, has recalled that the powers in terms of supply control are in the hands of the Consells Insulars and has accused the PP of “making proclamations without legal rigour.” Negueruela has also defended that the Government has agreed the penalty section with business organizations. “Yours is a sad role that you have to vote with Vox against the agreements with the social agents”, he added. Likewise, in relation to the complementary offer, the head of Tourism of the Government has pointed out that it is one of the sectors that has grown the most thanks to the support of the regional Executive.
Likewise, the deputy spokesperson for the formation in the Parliament, Nuria Riera, has announced that her party will request an opinion from the Consell Consultiu in the face of “doubts” about the “legal stability” of the law.
Criticism of the sanctions regime
From El PI-Proposta per les Illes, its spokesman, Josep Melià, has criticized that the sanctions contemplated in the regulations are “absolutely disproportionate”: “It seems that there is a desire to persecute everyone with the vision that they are fraudsters and criminals,” he said.
Likewise, the spokeswoman for Ciudadanos, Patricia Guasp, has lamented that the Law was initially promoted through a “decree” approved “at night and treacherous and with a deliberative process that did not exist.” “It seems that they have discovered gunpowder with sustainability and circularity when those who had already promoted it are the companies in the sector themselves”, added the parliamentarian. The training itself has been in favor of all the measures that “mean a better transition towards the circular economy and have a regenerative impact on the Islands” considering that the current text of the norm is “much better than the ‘decree’ that brought Negueruela in February”.
Meanwhile, the parliamentarian of Més per Mallorca, Joan Mas, has praised the benefits of the new Law, mainly in labor matters, although he has stated that “sustainable growth does not exist, since it is an oxymoron”. “It is necessary to decrease. The situation of collapse is no longer any subjective assessment, the load capacity is absolutely overwhelmed”, said the deputy from the eco-sovereignty formation: “We want to live many years of tourism and that those of us who live here all year round do so with the greatest possible quality, advocating for fair working conditions, lowering the level of pressure on the territory, applying environmentally sustainable measures, redistributing wealth in the form of economic diversification and promoting local products”, he emphasized.
In the same debate, the deputy of United We Can Antonia Martí has celebrated that the Balearic Islands will have “for the first time” a tourism law “focused on workers, the environment and on improving the economic model of the Islands”. “We do not want more drunken tourism or more job insecurity, we want tourism to have a positive and dignified impact for all”, she has emphasized. In Martí’s opinion, it is a “good law” despite the fact that “it could be better, it has been absolutely impossible. Today these islands are moving forward with this government bloc, the constructive proposals of the opposition and towards a new progressive legislature”, she has sentenced.
Finally, the parliamentary spokesman for Vox-Actúa Baleares, Jorge Campos, has opposed the Law, considering that “the modification of the 2012 law ”is irrelevant and is detrimental to the hotelier”. The far-right formation, in fact, presented amendments for the suppression of the regulations because the reform of the previous one originated through a decree law “approved with the backs of the citizens and without consensus”.
Armengol: “It is a great joy that we have a very good season”
Also in the plenary session this Tuesday, the deputy for Més per Menorca (Mixed Group) Josep Castells, who regrets that the regulations are not “courageous enough in the direction of decrease”, has questioned Armengol about “if he is concerned about the tourist overcrowding”, reflecting on the fact that “more tourists does not mean more wealth”. “It also has effects on the quality of life of the residents of the Balearic Islands”, he stated, mainly referring to housing and local businesses, “which makes it increasingly difficult to live in the Balearic Islands”.
“It raises a somewhat extensive debate. If you ask me that we should continue working together to diversify the economic model even more, without a doubt, yes”, replied the President of the Government, who, on the tourist season, has launched a “prior reflection” by stressing that the pandemic “has caused a very difficult economic situation for all families”, with a 20% drop in GDP, for which he considered “a great joy that we have a very good season and that we have good results on quality employment”.
The keys of the tourist law
Specifically, the new regulations focus on four axes: social and economic sustainability; circularity and environmental sustainability, territorial sustainability and modernization and administrative simplification. The Executive estimates that the new regulations, which will use European funds, will entail a public investment of sixty million euros in aid to the sector.
Another of the most relevant measures of the Law is the obligation that all hotel beds be raised before 2023 with the aim of facilitating the working conditions of housekeepers. The Government estimates that some 20,000 Kellys could benefit from this measure and that 300,000 beds would have to be replaced. It will also be mandatory for establishments to control the temperature of areas reserved for staff, such as kitchens.
On the environmental front, the new tourism law will force hotels to have a circularity plan: every year they will have to carry out an evaluation of the management of resources and waste generated, which includes the consumption of water, energy and food. In addition, fuel-oil boilers must be replaced by more sustainable alternatives, such as electric ones.
These companies will also have to monitor the traceability of fish and shellfish and implement instruments to save water (for example, double flush toilets). Also, among other actions, the new rule prohibits alcohol dispensers for customers, so those who serve it must be employees.
The approval of the decree of the new Tourist Law is part of a package of measures that the Executive of Armengol has adopted throughout its two mandates, such as the Climate Change Law, the protection of the seabed and the limitation of the circulation of cars, the consumption of plastics and the arrival of cruise ships.