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Photo exhibit: Looking back at a year of Farmland Reserve

foto inauguracio expo un any de cens de terres de cultiuYesterday, Tuesday, November 7 at 8.00pm, the Formentera Council's Office of Agriculture hosted the opening of photographer Eva Parey's exhibition looks at the past twelve months of a local project to revive deserted plots of land. Present at the launch of Un any de Cens de Terres de Cultiu (Farmland Reserve: a year in photos) were CiF culture councillor Susana Labrador, rural affairs councillor Bartomeu Escandell, Formentera Farmers' Cooperative director Carlos Marí, the photographer herself, other officials and local residents.

Comprised of thirty-some photos, the collection documents the first year of an initiative called Cens de Terres de Cultiu. The project is backed by the Formentera Council and the Farmers' Cooperative, an organisation of farmers dedicated to reviving the local primary sector and conserving Formentera's natural landscapes.

With the arrival of tourism in the 1960s and 1970s, many fields in the Formentera countryside fell into disuse. Now, with the help of the initiative and thanks to the generosity of landowners who have handed over property to the reserve, many fields are once again being tilled. The initiative helps revive a vocation unique to Formentera, the work of the “pagès” (farmer), at the same time that it protects the area this work takes place, the countryside, with its stone walls, mowed fields and fig trees with their long, propped up branches. Another aim of the project is for local livestock, another keystone feature of the Formentera landscape, to once again have pastureland.

Farmland Reserve is now one year old. Eva Parey, a specialist in photo journalism, has documented the 12 moons that have come and gone in that time, the phases of a year spent farming, clearing shrubbery, tilling fields, sowing seeds, working the land and harvesting to begin sowing once again ... A selection of photos that reflects this laborious work, the process and its protagonists.

Screened during the premiere was a video capturing the work done over the last year. The event also included poetry from Marià Villangómez and music from UC and Aires Formenterencs.

In winter, Formentera seeks to attract English tourists

foto wtm 2 2016Today marked the first day of World Travel Market, England's leading tourism trade show. Representing and promoting Formentera at the London event, which runs through Wednesday, November 9, 2016, are Formentera Council (CiF) president Jaume Ferrer, councillor of tourism Alejandra Ferrer and, director of Formentera's tourism advisory board, Carlos Bernús.

Formentera is being represented at the Balearic Islands' stand, where Universitat de les Illes Balears (UIB) students are on hand to attend to fair visitors. One goal shared by all four islands in the archipelago is “to get the word out about the pre- and post-summer seasons”, the tourism councillor pointed out. The agency for tourism in the Balearics (ATB for its initials in Catalan) has published a magazine to promote off-season visits.

According to Councillor Ferrer, Formentera's marketing push is particularly important in England given the year-round flights in place between London and Eivissa. She described plans to meet with various PR companies and online marketing firms in an effort to boost Formentera's presence in the English market.

Formentera to put funds from tourist-use rentals towards improvements in Es Pujols and Es Ca Marí

platja es pujols premsaToday Formentera's committee on matters related to tourism, la Comissió Turística, held an extraordinary session to report on money collected through tourist-rental certifications. In the last two years, €833,168 has been collected as payments for 1,150 tourist rental permits on a total ultimately projected to reach €2,054,819. As payments are often made in instalments the total sum has yet to be received in full.

The committee green-lighted a proposal to funnel the collected money into Es Pujols improvementprojects like sanitation and other activities in the town's centre. In the words of tourism councillor Alejandra Ferrer, some of the actions will be aimed at diversification away from seasonal tourism. Plans are also under way to draft a sanitation and improvements plan in Es Ca Marí.

According to Ferrer, 181 spots for tourist accommodation can still be obtained, either to legalise heretofore illegal rentals or for new dwellings. The committee's membership includes stakeholders in civil society, members of the business community, political parties with CiF plenary representation and the CCOO and UGT trade unions. Part of the committee's mission is to decide on the investments that will be made in areas such as seasonal diversification, development and promotion of tourist activities, urban improvements and training opportunities.

New inspection unit of CiF's land and tourism offices tallied 400 checks this summer

foto servei dinspeccio formenteraToday tourism councillor Alejandra Ferrer gave an appraisal of the Formentera Council's inspection unit since its launch this summer. In its first months the crew, an arm of the Office of Tourism and the Office of Land, carried out 700 educational visits and 400 inspections.

Occupying public land
Agents reported 39 cases of businesses occupying public land without a permit. Thirty applications for permits generated €14,806 in revenue, another €17,664 came as payments on overdue fees and sixty fines were issued which brought in €17,861.

Commercial activity
Checks of 47 businesses led to the discovery that 22 were without required paperwork and incurred punitive fines. In addition, other controls resulted in 17 proceedings being brought for illegal commercial activities. In those cases, €90,628 in fines were issued, plus fines totalling €14,050 for failure to respect established operating hours.

Twenty-seven controls were conducted at seven of the island's rental car agencies. These led to penalties of €153,000 for carrying on business activity in areas zoned as rural and using public parking spaces for rental cars without the required permit. Activity was shut down at three businesses and three rural-zoned plots were cordoned off for that reason.

In tourism, charges were brought in ten cases following checks of one hundred dwellings. One business with 17 apartments was forced to close when the owners were discovered in absence of the required permit. In that case litigation is being sought. The checks targeted a random assortment of businesses picked by a council task force to develop a summer inspections roadmap.

Forty-three thousand euros in fines were issued after sites were found to be offering accommodation online (infractions that were later corroborated with the discovery of guests). As for the task of regularising tourist-use lodgings, 173 checks were conducted and 354 new rentals declared, not to mention an additional 90 cases pending processing or checks which are projected to generate two thousand new tourist beds.

In urbanism in 2016, 51 proceedings opened to re-establish businesses' legal standing will also have punitive effects. Currently, 43 corrective measures have been pursued, of which 25 were completed. Since the start of the present legislative session, 60 of the 99 disciplinary measures sought have been applied in full. Thirty-three resulted in demolition orders, 26 regularised business activity through available legal channels (legalisation or partial or full voluntary demolition) and one case expired. Urbanism fines revenues in this legislative sitting total €242,883.

Educational campaigns
Summer served as the opportunity to collect information for various awareness campaigns this winter: clearing rural land, fixing traditional stone walls and revamping commercial signage in rural areas are just a few. Regularising tourist accommodations, an object of regular questioning and motive for new registrations, will remain a target of outreach.

In Councillor Ferrer's words: “The inspection unit, by applying limits and regulating both commercial activity and land use for tourism, aims to curb unfair competition and ensure the rules of engagement are respected, raising the bar in terms of tourism and social well-being.”

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