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Saturday April 26, 2014

Majorca vows to crack down on badly behaved tourists

As part of a newly introduced Good Citizen Plan, Palma City Council has declared that it will no longer put up with bad tourist behaviour. From June, anyone contravening a range of new civic laws will be fined heavily and face the wrath of the local police.

Of course many expats have uttered a wry chuckle at the news. Haven’t we heard the same old story every year? Drums are beaten, local headlines screech about a new code of conduct being enforced on island beaches and then a huge anticlimax follows when, come the summer season, nothing changes at all.
This time it seems there’s less sabre-rattling and a more earnest intention to get serious with offenders of all kinds – holidaymakers, expats and locals alike. Street performers for example who currently hang out in popular tourist spots in the capital such as in front of the cathedral or in the gardens of S’Horta del Rei will have equipment confiscated. Those visitors breezing around the streets in beachwear away from seaside resorts will be given instant fines and advised to cover up especially before entering bars and restaurants.

There’s also to be a major drive to stop dog owners from allowing their pets to foul footpaths and parks – a good initiative – and crossing a road on a red light can get you into big trouble. In fact shock waves rippled around the Soller valley recently when a local reported that a ‘foreigner’ had been fined heavily for crossing a completely empty road in Palma when the light for pedestrians was showing red. This was deemed completely wrong and an infringement of personal liberty and I have to agree. Many years ago when an au pair in Germany I remember being upbraided by a policeman for strolling across a side street devoid of traffic for the very same reason. After remonstrating with him, he finally agreed not to issue a fine but I thought it ludicrous not to be allowed to use one’s own common sense on such a matter.

When it comes to partying especially in resorts close to Palma such as Arenal and Can Pastilla, there will be no tolerance shown to groups of mostly young German tourists that regularly congregate on Playa de Palma beach concocting noxious alcoholic brews that they consume through straws from large plastic buckets. Steep fines will be issued by local police as a deterrent while illegal vendors will also be penalised. Meanwhile young holidaymakers that climb between hotel balconies – often the worse for wear after an alcohol-fuelled night in the likes of Magaluf – will be issued with fines of between €200- €400. Of course it’s highly doubtful that those in an inebriated state would be troubled by such a trifle, neither those whose leap of faith results in their own death.

Cynicism aside, it would be refreshing to think that some of the proposed regulations are actually imposed this summer. It’s rarely appetising to be seated in a restaurant next to a bare-chested and sweaty super-sized hulk sporting several spare tyres and tight trunks. Neither is it pleasant for holidaymakers to find their offspring playing in a park littered with dog mess. Still, balance is needed if Palma’s Good Citizen Plan is to work in practice. A little give and take and goodwill on the part of the city’s police force will hopefully in turn encourage us all to mind our Ps and Qs.

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