The Fundació concurs with Balearic President Francina Armengol.
Open letter to British tourists from Balearic President Francina Armengol
Dear British friends,
In Majorca, there is a bridge named Pont dels Anglesos – the English Bridge. It takes its name from the engineers – Bateman, Green and others. Their bridge over the Grand Canal of Albufera is on the road along which hire cars move between Alcudia and Can Picafort.
That illustrious writer, Robert Graves, heeded the recommendation of his friend, the author Gertrude Stein, who uttered that famous phrase which has entered the annals of literature associated with Majorca’s tourism and landscape: “Majorca is paradise, if you can stand it.”
I mention the bridge and the quote by way of introduction to the message which I, as president of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands, wish to convey to British citizens and, by extension, to all people who want to take their holidays on our islands. The Balearic Islands are a friendly and safe destination, perfectly prepared to guarantee the security of tourists and residents. This is demonstrated by the epidemiological data and the set of measures that we have put in place to ensure the safety of each and every one of the tourists who visit us. These include the creation of safe travel corridors and the provision of hospital facilities that are exclusively for Covid patients.
We are perfectly prepared to ensure the well-being of those who visit us. Achieving this has required a great effort. We closed the islands for more than two months in order to curb the pandemic, and we only opened up under strict health security measures. This is why I want to take this opportunity to convey to the United Kingdom government that we share the commitment to containing the virus and to make clear that, in this regard, the Balearic Islands, far from posing a threat, are an ally, where a tranquility can be enjoyed from knowing that we have always placed health above all other considerations.
At the beginning of the summer and as the lockdown in Spain was coming to an end, the Balearic government launched a pilot plan that allowed us to open up as a a safe destination for tourism activity. At the moment, we have a controlled epidemiological situation, with a much lower incidence than in Spain as a whole and which has always been lower than in the UK. We were one of the first regions to introduce obligatory use of masks as a means of protection. We have limited nightlife that is associated with excesses and the consequent concentration of people, and we have implemented control measures for travellers arriving from international destinations.
I would like to refer to the ties which have historically and socially united our communities – British and Balearic. There are British families who have been visiting us for generations. Couples who met here decades ago now return with their grandchildren. British citizens have stayed and live here – in love with the islands and so dividing their lives between the British Isles where they were born and the Balearic Islands where they spend most of the year. We have a shared history that goes beyond tourism.
At the beginning of this letter, I referred to two examples which have left their mark on the place names and culture of these islands. We can also highlight the long list of words of English origin which have become part of the Catalan of Minorca – blec/black, boínder/bow-window, bòtil/bottle, gin/gin, moguin/mahogany, tornescrú/turnscrew, xoc/chalk. These are more than just exotic peculiarities. In my opinion, they are the living and palpable demonstration of an exchange that reaches beyond our appeal as a place of sun, beach and fun. The demographic significance should also be pointed out. There are currently around 15,000 British citizens who are registered in the Balearics and, according to data from the British consulate, the total number of residents is 22,000.
I would also like to refer to what our islands offer in terms of the quality and conservation of the landscape. Moreover, and in these particularly difficult times for the world, the Balearic Islands bring together everything a traveller can crave: absolute health guarantees, nature of unparalleled beauty, establishments which have contributed unequivocally to quality, and public services that guarantee safety at all times. It is true that we have had to adopt some unpopular measures, such as the closure of nightclubs, but we have done this with the conviction that if we did not eliminate the risks and guarantee health security, it would be difficult to move forward.
With all this in mind, I want to offer encouragement to citizens of the United Kingdom and to the companies which are engaged in the tourism industry. I want to thank you for the love you show us, and I want to assure you that we will meet again soon. We are working to get the British government to establish safe corridors between the UK and our islands; connections for which no quarantine will be required, a quarantine that epidemiological data in the Balearics prove to be unnecessary.
As Gertrude Stein said when referring to Majorca, these islands are a paradise so long as one can bear the charm inherent to their unparalleled magic and appeal. We will soon be sharing this magic and the richness of continuing to strengthen the bonds that unite us generation after generation.
Francina Armengol i Socias
President of the Government of the Balearic Islands