Before I start
with another series of articles, I would like to discuss the actual ecological
local situation and the perspectives for this year.
My concern is
about what we understand as some of the most important problems for the future
of Eivissa-Formentera, such as the "Ecotax."
Then there are
the negative and decadent images in terms of ecology that the Islands are gaining
quite fast that we have already discussed and denounced in previous articles.
Even these problems are just
political decisions, with very little economic cost, at least for the public
money and the majority of the Ibicenco society. There has been a continuous
debate between the political parties for years and there is a clear opinion
among the great majority of the Islands' population asking for drastic changes,
still far away of satisfactory answers. More then ever, the objectives of all
the local ecological organisations have become paramount for the near future.
are other very important and big problems for the proper and sustainable development
of the tourism and the entire society of the Islands. They include the sufficient
supply of fresh water and energy at a reasonable ecological and economic cost,
the proper collecting and treatment of the residues, the sewerage system, with
new and better depuration water plants, new parking areas in town and better
roads, the security of the airport, etc.
But, all these
problems are far more then just political decisions: they necessarily involve
big amounts of money that we haven't got.
Or have we?
Perhaps I should
say there is some money, maybe enough, but only if we forget about the old problems
and we spend it on new projects, completely necessary for the future of the
Island (they say).
such things as the new platform station for the disembarking of the big transatlantic
cruisers, being built by the little island with the lighthouse of "Botafoc"
just at the entrance of Eivissa harbour. (In my modest opinion, this project
may be necessary or not, but for sure it is going to impact very negatively
on one of the most powerful "clichÚs" of the Island, one of our most
captivating scenes, the emotion of arriving at the old town of Eivissa by ship.
The cruisers may bring some more money for some on the Island, but at the very
expensive cost of a good part of its beauty).
Very big investments
will have to be done for the following four or five years, in the most optimist
hypothesis, trying to work out the solutions to these old problems.
From the Balearic
Islands, we know that most of this money needed for the solutions to these problems
will not come from the Spanish Government in Madrid. In fact, the Balearic Community
(the richest community "per capita" of Spain, they say) pays in tax
to Madrid far more then what they invest on the Islands. So, as we say, there
is not much we can expect from them.
there is also money coming from the European Capital, Brussels, but this money
already has a clear destination for the preservation of the historical, cultural
and ecological values of Eivissa Town, part of it in a very bad state, a real
shame for the Ibicenco people. Or the "Posidonia meadows," also declared
"Heritage of the Humanity." Nothing or very little will be left for
the "domestic problems".
a new tax applied on the Islands' visitors, seems to be the most reasonable
and fair way, at least for the majority of local people, to collect the money
for some of the solutions of the problems generated by the tourism itself.
a big, unnecessary waste of water and energy, the big amount of rubbish left
all over the place, the destruction and vandalism with the public gardens and
street furniture (plants, lamps, public-seats, traffic-signs, rubbish containers,
statues, monuments, etc.) done by the young tourists, the number of extra vehicles
that comes with the tourists, private and to rent, leaving the locals without
parking room, turning our traffic really chaotic and dangerous, the adding of
extra sand done every year to the hotel beaches, paid with public money, etc.,
etc., and for the preservation of the ecological values for everybody, locals
and tourists, to enjoy.
It is completely
unfair to charge just the local population with the extra cost of these activities,
as has been happening all the time up to now, especially when we can't cope
with them all. We can't afford it and the problems grow very fast, the indispensable
solutions become more and more expensive every year and they seem to be further
and further away.
The way that
this tax is going to be finally collected and the cost of the tax per person
is yet to be cleared by the "Govern Balear."
"Govern Balear" (Autonomic Government) has approved the "Ecotax"
that, hopefully, will be applied from the 1st of May 2002, not without opposition,
with rough and bitter polemics, from the hotel owners and the "P. P."
(Partido Popular, political party).
They are basically
the same people, the ones who ask for more sand on the beaches every year, larger
and more expensive promotions of Eivissa at the international tourist fairs
and much better services for their hotels (rubbish collecting, whatever amount
of fresh water and energy they ask for, more security by the hotel area, etc.).
Paid for with public money, of course.
On the other
hand, the great majority of tourists questioned by local journalists last summer
in the airport or at the hotels about the new "Ecotax" really liked
the idea and they think it is also necessary to do something about it.
They can see
by themselves that the ecological deterioration is growing fast, especially
the ones who have been here before in previous years. Most are prepared to pay
(the initial cost was more or less about the cost of a beer, in a normal bar,
per day) and obviously they also expect to see the good results of it.
To the locals,
the "Ecotax" is a great idea. We will all contribute the residents
and also the visitors who come to enjoy the beauty and the ecological qualities
of the Islands, to preserve these natural values and a better quality of life
It will not
just be us having to pay to clean up after the tourists, and to pay twice the
price that we pay for our services, as we would pay if it was only just for
us. Some of these tourists can be a business to the tour operators and the hotels,
but they cost real money to the rest; they cost us far more then what they spend
here on the Islands. We think this is very unfair.
Also we can
see in the "Ecotax" a real answer to our needs, a real way to work
out our old problems. With the money collected with it, we can start to face
It is also obvious
that the things have to be done correctly. This tax can't just be paid by the
customers of the hotels or the official tour-operators; there are a lot of visitors
using illegal tourist-rooms, private villas, camping and boats, with special
rates for the cars, that also will have to pay it.
In our opinion,
the best way to collect this new tax will be at the airports with the tickets,
or as they arrive (residents have different tickets) in the harbours and private
marinas, as they come down from the boats, with or without a car, or on the
boat itself, including the boat.
The money collected
by this new tax must be used or invested on the same island where it is collected
and only for the Ecology, to preserve the natural and ecological values and
to help to find the solutions to all the ecological problems that we already
have, not for new publicity campaigns or for political party promotions.
Am I being too