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
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.
Obviously there 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).
These include 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 "clichés"
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
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.
Nevertheless, 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".
The "Ecotax", 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.
These include 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,
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
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."
Finally the "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 for all.
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
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 optimistic?
José P Ribas