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Gathering of committee tasked with regulating and promoting tourism

foto 2021 COPTAt a gathering earlier today of the COPT, a local body whose purview includes regulating and promoting tourism, Consell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer and head of tourism marketing Carlos Bernús sat down with representatives of the Formentera Association of Hotels, the Chamber of Commerce, the local league of small- and medium-sized businesses (Pimef), the Confederation of Business Associations in the Balearics (CAEB), travel agencies and other local tourism industry figures as well as political party leaders.

President Ferrer unpacked the current situation surrounding the Covid-19 crisis, starting with the response by local government in the pandemic’s early days and before emergency orders were first invoked, going on to chart steps to loosen stay-at-home rules and reopen the island to regional, national and finally international tourism. She spoke about a potential path toward a new de-escalation of lockdown orders in place today and about the start of the tourist season, and concluded her remarks about 2020 by highlighting the local tourism sector’s “enormous efforts to adapt to the new public health orders that came last summer”.

Ferrer proceeded by unveiling local government’s draft plans for economic recovery in 2021. The tourism sector will have a fortnight to review the plan, present it to their associates and share their own proposals in a forthcoming meeting.

Though from these collective efforts will emerge a definitive document, President Ferrer insisted that “as with everything else since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the plan won’t be set in stone. It will be tailored on an ongoing basis to the state of affairs in public health and the restrictions in place at any given point in time”.

Working document
As President Ferrer indicated, the three-part document starts with a stock-taking of public health measures, controls and information in 2020 as well as proposals to make Formentera a safe-as-possible destination in summer 2021. Finance and tax office councillor Bartomeu Escandell, also at the meeting, gave a run down of the document’s second section, which concerns economic measures to palliate effects of the pandemic-linked crisis engulfing tourism today. Carlos Bernús concluded remarks by exploring the document's third section, ‘Destination, marketing and model of tourism’, which analyses the island’s weaknesses and opportunities and discusses steps to readapt the island’s 2021 tourism marketing strategy.

9 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Consell awards 25 grants valued at €210,339 to safeguard local cultural heritage

foto 2021 paret secaThe Formentera Heritage Department reports that the Consell will deliver €210,339 in 25 grants (€100.144 for upkeep of drystone walls, €44,509 for work on cultural heritage landmarks and €65,787 for burial of overhead utility cables) to islanders who answered a call to rehabilitate assets of local heritage.

Heritage councillor Raquel Guasch said last year’s announcement of funding to preserve and enhance monuments received wave of interest, indicating that “in addition to preserving our history, these grants are about islanders feeling supported by the administration and feeling a shared sense of responsibility to safeguard our local heritage”.

Only five of thirty submissions were turned down, mostly because work being proposed wasn’t covered in terms. Grantees have 24 months from the date assistance is announced (or permits are delivered) to perform upgrades and supply proof of completion.

5 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera to direct €630K to hardest hit segments of local business

foto 2021 visita Armengol ajudes febrer 1Alejandra Ferrer, chair of the Consell de Formentera, met today with Balearic first minister Francina Armengol to present a plan to support Formentera businesses affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The two officials were joined by deputy chair and local entrepreneurism and commerce chief Ana Juan and economy and tax office chief Bartomeu Escandell.

Seizing the occasion of a visit to Eivissa by Armengol, the assembled decision makers discussed how to make assistance work for the needs of Formentera’s business community. Emerging from the encounter, Ferrer announced the two administrations would be unlocking €630,000 in support for segments of the community most affected by the crisis. Armengol asserted that the Consell’s “familiarity with on-the-ground needs and realities” meant it was “better equipped than anyone” to administer the particulars of assistance.

The agreements signed will rest on Formentera government’s split authority as island and town council (consell and ajuntament, respectively). As part of the “emergency programme”, the Balearic government has pledged €15m for island councils and €10m for town councils (Formentera will receive €210K in its capacity as the former and €105K as the latter). The island will contribute the same amount as well, for a grand total of €630K in assistance for Formentera’s productive sector.

Ferrer pointed out that the roots of the Consell’s special support for families and small businesses went back to the start of the pandemic. “Formentera will stand by those being battered by the crisis, particularly as highly restrictive measures enter into force to improve the public health situation and slowly restore freedoms and economic activity”, said Ferrer. “Disbursements will privilege businesses and freelancers impacted by the new restrictions”, said the president, “but we will also factor for those affected by the economic fallout from the unusually short season, and for those now gearing up for another crisis still to come, whose ‘how’ and ‘when’ remain unknown.”

1 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Public health at fore of Formentera’s January plenary

Foto ple gener 2021 1At the Consell de Formentera’s January full-house assembly today, participants connected virtually for an encounter that was largely characterised by public health measures related to the ongoing pandemic. GxF-PSOE cabinet members won cross-party backing on their first proposal, a measure dealing with Covid-19 vaccines.

First councillor and tourism chief Alejandra Ferrer defended the initiative, which found local decision makers pressing the central government to continue work with the European Union around international agreements to expedite production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, key to guaranteeing sufficient levels of local immunity and reactivating island tourism.

Councillors prodded officials in Madrid and Palma to ensure nationwide immunity levels necessary to restoring free and safe movement between the distinct Spanish regions and restarting national tourism as soon as possible. They highlighted the importance of creating safe corridors, increasing Formentera’s competitiveness as a destination spot and putting travellers in a position to get here safely.

Civil law on Eivissa and Formentera
Assembly members struck unity on a joint GxF-PSOE cabinet and Sa Unió proposal regarding fair taxation of civil law succession agreements involving the personal income tax (IRPF). In the words of economy and tax office councillor Bartomeu Escandell, “our islands’ civil law must be respected”.

In defence of the measure and vis-à-vis a draft bill on combatting tax fraud currently under congressional review, councillors asked the central government to jettison proposed changes to an article of related legislation from 2006, and otherwise block any part of the Spanish constitution, the Balearic Statute of Autonomy, or legislation recognised by the regional government and parliament that perverts the capacity of local institutions to act on civil and fiscal measures. The Consell de Formentera urges the government and parliament of the Balearic Islands to defend diversity of local institutions as enshrined in the Balearic Compilation of Civil Law, namely agreements currently facing fiscal reform by the central government.

Fibre-optic connections
Cabinet councillors and the opposition came together to support a proposal to make fibre-optic connections available across the island. New technologies councillor Vanessa Parellada defended the measure, pointing to such technologies newfound importance since the start of the Covid crisis: “New technologies have enabled remote work, put families in a position to balance work and family and created new ways of socialising, gathering and sharing information”. The councillor said fibre-optic technology was to thank for “significant leaps forward in terms of universal Internet access on Formentera”, while insisting there were certain parts of the island that “continued to trail behind”. Councillors called on relevant administrations and companies to extend fibre-optic connections to every home, business, bar, restaurant, hotel and tourist establishment on the island.

Formentera, zero-waste municipality
Assembly members struck unity on backing for Formentera’s membership in the ‘Programme to Certify Zero-Waste Municipalities’. While underscoring recent circular economy initiatives such as the pallet and bicycle reuse programme at the household waste recycling centre, environment councillor Antonio J Sanz said still more remained to be done, and trumpeted efforts like the Zero-Waste Municipality programme, “which strive to cut waste and use resources in more efficient ways”.

After tweaking by cabinet councillors, one Sa Unió-backed measure to receive unanimous support involved extending the validity of holiday rental registrations into 2021 — a measure which built on the success of a similar Consell-led initiative earlier in the pandemic.

Public health proposals
One more Sa Unió proposal to win cross-party backing after modifications by cabinet councillors was a message to the Balearic government reiterating the need for urgent action to secure mass voluntary screenings with rapid antigen tests to pinpoint Covid-19 cases on the island.

In yet another unanimous vote, assembly members asked the Balearic government to increase the island’s Covid-19 services and accelerate funding to establish a local base for 061 emergency response service, including an additional plea for special resources to tackle simultaneous emergencies. Social welfare councillor Rafael Ramírez defended the measure, which was brokered by cabinet councillors and the opposition, insisting that “Formentera residents deserve a decent service just as much as islanders elsewhere in the Balearics”. Ramírez additionally pointed out that the region’s 2021 spending plan included a budget line item for creation of emergency response infrastructure on Formentera. The councillor concluded by insisting that “public services like education and healthcare that ensure equality need to be built up, not cut back”.

Unanimous backing materialised yet again around a cross-party call to require negative Covid-19 test results of all inter-island travellers. Once Formentera’s “perimetric sealing-off” is lifted and while certain islands remain in situations of risk, councillors asked the Balearic government to take steps to implement identical controls to those which visitors from outside the archipelago are already subject to.

Official proclamation on World Cancer Day
The January plenary concluded with a special proclamation marking World Cancer Day on 4 February. In the words of social welfare councillor Rafael Ramírez, “the crisis succeeding the pandemic has done nothing if not exacerbate the social and healthcare precariousness that people with cancer and their families endure already”. According to Ramírez, the Consell “supports cancer research because it is an essential part of the fight, and applauds the ongoing commitment and efforts of all the associations and groups accompanying those affected by cancer”.

29 January 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Meeting to coordinate safety and control measures ahead of Formentera’s passage to Enhanced Tier 4 of public health alert

foto 2021 reunio coordinacio seguretatAs Formentera prepares to enter “Enhanced Tier 4” of public health alert on Saturday 30 January, decision makers held a special meeting to coordinate controls and patrols by local law enforcement, the Formentera Inspections Department and the Balearic department of emergency services and inspections.

Among the attendees of the part-face-to-face, part-virtual gathering were Consell chair Alejandra Ferrer, interior chief Josep Marí, inspection services chief Antonio J. Sanz, members of local law enforcement and representatives of the regional health department’s emergency and inspection services.

According to Ferrer, meeting participants reviewed infection data, including places and modes of transmission detected so far. “Based on this information we’ve put in place a coordinated strategy for the days ahead to keep residents and business owners informed and perform controls to make sure the new ‘Enhanced Tier 4’ measures are respected”, she said.

Attendees of the meeting agreed on the importance of tightening controls to ensure individuals who test positive or close contacts stay home.

Controls on social and family gatherings
Consensus was also struck regarding the need for special controls on social and family gatherings, which, according to data from recent weeks, are the largest source of new infections and flare-ups. Ferrer announced that from Saturday individuals not living in the same home could no longer gather, indoors or out, and asked islanders to be “especially responsible over the next two weeks. Don’t meet with people outside your household unit: that’s how we’ll protect each other, swiftly reduce new infections and get our social lives and our economy back on track.”

Sealing off the island
As for closure of entry and exit points on the island, forces of order reported that islanders have complied with related measures. The “perimetric sealing-off” will remain in force for two weeks.

Lastly, meeting attendees spoke about fines for Covid rule-breakers and ways to simplify protocol for processing them.

28 January 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

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