A sweltering situation|
Posted On » July 11 - 17, 2012 (Volume:10 / Issue 80)
Holidaymakers fear industrial action at one of Europe’s holiday hotspots will ruin their planned summer breaks, writes Roland Lloyd Parry.
Pending negotiations, unions on the Balearics have threatened a strike on July 20, with up to 100,000 drivers, cleaners, waiters and others urged to stay off work, on top of other possible actions by teachers and doctors.
“It’s going to be a very hot summer,” warned the Ibiza newspaper Prensa Pitiusa. “If an agreement isn’t reached, tourists should be prepared.”
For years, authorities have been looking for ways to diversify tourism on the Balearics so they can compete better with rival sunspots further east, and now there is added urgency to create jobs.
For all the strengths of the tourism sector, it cannot generate enough work to meet demand in the recession, brought on by the collapse of a building boom that has driven national unemployment above 24 per cent.
Carmen Ferrer, Ibiza’s councillor for tourism, says the island is trying to remould itself as a destination for families, outdoor sports and even corporate events, and to extend the main tourist season beyond the current June to August period.
“We want to be open as many months as possible and make an effort to have as much hotel occupation as possible so that businesses can employ more people for longer,” she said.
Meanwhile, businesses in Ibiza are worried about other side-effects of the crisis, such as a mooted rise in value-added tax that they say would choke them.
On top of this, a surplus of unsold properties built during the boom, they say, has spawned a market in cheap, unregulated holiday home rentals that is undercutting them.
Ibiza has for decades been a classic clubbing and beach destination but Councillor Ferrer says part of her job is to develop its reputation as well as its economic activity.