News from Elaine:

News roundup 11/01/2011 – 14/01/2011
Although more passengers passed through the Port of Funchal last year, there were 108,687 fewer (- 4.8%) through Madeira Airport (annual total 2,239,353). In December, 8.9% fewer passengers, accounted for by – 1.7% and – 2.5%  domestic and international flights. Porto Santo Airport transferred 14% less than in 2009.
Race for limited seats on the flights to Porto Santo whilst the ferry is in dry-dock for its annual maintenance.

The Aquarium of Porto Moniz is sustainable, according to the mayor, who predicts this year’s revenue will cover expenses. The accumulated liability ‘drowns’ the accounts but there is a positive trend.

A 10-page article on Madeira and Porto Santo has been published in the most important German travel magazine, ‘GEO Saison’. It covers a four day walking trip that was part of a promotional press visit. The value of the article to the islands is over 150,000 euros as the magazine has a circulation of 97,878 copies reaching 200,000 readers.

The climate in Madeira last year was milder and wetter than during the years 1971 – 2000. December was also warmer and wetter than normal. There were a large number of tropical nights (temperature over 20 degrees) in July, August and September. Funchal recorded the highest total annual rainfall since 1865 (1469 mm), with February receiving six times the mean value (458.7 mm).

Between Saturday and Wednesday, an Air Force Merlin helicopter will spread 380 kg seeds from 19 endemic species to reforest 2,000 hectares in the central serras that were deforested by the summer fires. The seeds were collected by 350 volunteers and will be sprayed onto inaccessible sites of the central ridge that divides the northern and southern slopes. The humidity at this time of year should encourage quick regrowth to form an area more densely covered than before the fires. Altogether, 8,500 hectares of forest were destroyed. Merlin helicopters might be used in the future to help fight fires. The Associação dos Amigos do Parque Ecológico do Funchal (AAPEF) volunteers also help clear and replant the serras.

The German NGO ‘Futouris’ has provided 5,000 euros for the study of the lobo marinho. This is to produce a manual detailing the best way to identify individuals and conserve the species. There are an estimated 35 seals in the colony.
The company Madeira Wind Birds won the Prémio João Borges 2010 (5,000 euros) from Câmara Municipal do Funchal for its seabird observation trips. The 2010 award was dedicated to marine-tourism and  ‘Rota dos Cetáceos’ and ‘Ventura do Mar’ won honours for eco-tourism.
13 doctors requested early retirement at the end of 2010, compared to 3 in 2009. This is due to cut backs in salaries as part of the Government’s austerity package. Altogether, 77 health service staff requested early retirement. 40 trainee doctors have had to return to Portugal due to the ongoing argument between the professional bodies and hospital management. Doctors working in Orthopaedics continue their strike due to management disagreements.

Electronic prescriptions available via the Internet, pharmacies and clinics within two to three years. This will be for both private and NHS patients. With all pharmacies and doctors linked through a central computer system, duplications in examinations will be avoided and access to consultations should be quicker and more efficient.

Jardim guides the Government and PSD from the hospital. He is improving and will return home in a few days time. Discouraged from smoking cigars, one of his brand images.
Serra de Água hosts the Local Crafts and Traditions Show on the last weekend of this month (29th and 30th). It originated as the Poncha Show but has been expanded to include folklore and diverse traditional groups from all over the island. Poncha and traditional crafts will be sold at stalls in the centre of Serra de Água. At the same time, there is a photographic exhibition of the parish most affected by the February storms.
The largest Lapinha (nativity scene) in Madeira has an extended opening until the 20th January as there have been so many visitors. It occupies two floors of the headquarters of the Associação Cultural e Recreativa do Galeão in São Roque and took two months to build. Open daily from 15.00 to 22.00 hours.

The Freguesia do Caniço has finished recuperating the Vereda da Levada da Azenha. The wooden bridge destroyed in February has been rebuilt. According to their website, the easy 1.3 km long walk takes just under an hour. It starts (signposted) just above the Estrada do Aeroporto (ER 204, Santa Cruz to Funchal), below the Azenha Restaurante and ends near the centre of Caniço.

The Lido Bathing Complex will remain closed for the next two summers as it will cost 4 – 5 million euros to refurbish.  Funchal Council has decided to compensate the operating firm FonteMar for the losses (1.2 million) from storm damage. The estimated loss this year to the company will be 400,000 euros which will lead to further difficulties although they are reducing operating costs. Ticket prices will rise by 1% to compensate for losses and prices for the car park in front of the Lido Pingo Doce supermarket will increase to 3.5 euros per day.

D. Cidade interviewed a property sector entrepreneur who said prices would fall in the next few years due to the recession and over construction during the last seven years. He thought properties priced at 100,000 euros would sell for 90,000 euros. Despite the economic downturn, prices increased over the past years due to increases in IVA and the cost of construction materials.

Meat and flour commodities are to increase by 10% as producers can no longer absorb the higher cost of raw materials.

Supportive China Buys European Bonds. Bank of China deputy governor stresses Beijing’s ‘positive role’ in restoring confidence by buying Spanish and Portuguese debt. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jan/12/supportive-china-buys-european-bonds

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