More news courtesy of Elaine: Snow, TAP, Tourism, Bananas & Prince Charles

Translated from today’s J. Madeira unless otherwise stated.

More snow news

The front page of today’s Diario Cidade shows a snow covered car bonnet being used to cool poncha rather than for the traditional car snowman. 65 cars (D. Noticias update) still stranded in the snow, to be removed with the help of the PSP today/tomorrow when the weather improves. Now a worry that the snow will worsen the erosion. Polish, German, French, Spanish and British nationals were disappointed when unable to visit the serras due to road closures. The snowline reached down to an altitude of 700 metres rather than the usual 1500 metres and the Meteorological Centre stated that the snow lay at a maximum depth of 10 cm. The temperature dropped to – 3 degrees centigrade on March 13/14th and Funchal also had low minimum/maximum temperatures of 9 – 16.3 degrees. The snow is the result of an anticyclone west of the island bringing cold and wet weather from Northern Europe. The lowest recorded March temperatures occurred in 1972 when Funchal registered 7.7 degrees and at Areeiro, – 4.3 degrees. On average, March has 2.3 days of snow covering the serras. There is snow forecasted for today and tomorrow but with a slight increase in temperatures.

In contrast, according to the Instituto de Meterologia site, February was drier, warmer and sunnier compared to the average reference values between 1961 – 1990.

Tourism news

After conflicting news in the media, the Tourism Department clarifies that the viewpoint Miradouro do Pico dos Barcelos will be redeveloped. The budget is 1,460,430 euros and it should take 8 months. This upgrade was initially planned in 2005 and financing approved for expropriation of land but instead, projects deemed more important have been supported by Funchal Council. The Tourism Department notes that the final political approval is in an election year (signed in January 2011) which serves as a pretext for questioning the action of the Regional Government. (As before, Jardim wants all improvement projects to be finished by this year’s elections.)

D. Noticias front page highlights the ‘Air Revolution’ as TAP lost 20% of the market (96,000 passengers) to Easyjet on the Madeira – Lisbon route in 2008. Although, as Paul previously noted in March 4th blog, TAP improved profits in 2010.

More charter flights this summer including a direct flight from Warsaw to Porto Santo from May. Other international direct links to Porto Santo are from London and Paris. The Tourism Department is having to look at non-conventional sources for tourists, eg Russia and neighbouring countries.

The Port of Funchal registered a 17.5% growth in the number of cruise ships passengers in January and February this year compared to last year. In total, 99,015 during these two months. 23 cruise ships (30.5% increase) visited in February (16 in 2010) carrying 45,388 passengers (23.9% more than 2010). (D. Noticias,10th March)

The Madeira Promotion Association is hosting 240 French tour operators today and tomorrow. They are invited to a Folle Nuit à Madère – Noite Louca na Madeira (Mad/Crazy Night), an evening dinner in Forte de São Tiago and a (relevant) thematic party, “Noite Branca” (White Night) in Molhe.

Agricultural news

The demand for banana plants increased by 44.6% from 10,703 in 2009 to 15,478 last year. This is the largest increase in recent years and shows that crop damages caused by the storms have not deterred farmers. Since nationalisation in 2008, GESBA ensures regular payment to farmers every fortnight. Jornal da Madeira claims this is responsible for the sudden increase in banana growing and income since that year. In 2004, there were only 3,400 requests for plants, so an almost fivefold increase in 2010. Plants are grown "in vitro" to ensure disease-free plants. (J.Madeira,13th March)

Local news

imageTwo elderly residents of Câmara de Lobos, aged 80 and 84, were awoken around midnight yesterday when an overlooking wall collapsed, causing a landslide that destroyed part of their house. The women were asleep in an adjacent part of the residence, preventing injury but were taken to the local Health Centre to be treated for shock. It coincided with the 80th birthday of one of them. The landslide blocks the path to nearby houses and will have to be cleared by local authority workmen.

Prince Charles and Camilla to visit Portugal

D.Cidade publishes the recent announcement in the British press that Prince Charles and Camilla are to visit Portugal between March 28 – 30th. (Photo of him wearing a top hat and dressed for a royal wedding!)

4 thoughts on “More news courtesy of Elaine: Snow, TAP, Tourism, Bananas & Prince Charles”

  1. Earlier today Portugal had a deplorable bond auction of €1 billion in 12 month Bills, which saw the interest rate paid jump to nearly 4.5% even as general demand indicated by Bid to Cover plunge from 3.1 to 2.2. And even so, the bulk of the purchasing was from Asia, read China, as the last thing Japan needs now is to rescue a insolvent Portugal, according to a finance minister disclosure. From Reuters: “The 12-month T-bill yield rose to 4.331 percent from 4.057 percent in an auction on March 2, in line with analyst expectations of around 4.3 percent and with the secondary market. It also stayed below record levels seen in December.” Alas, while Portugal purchased a few days of funding, it merely confirmed that it is now effectively bankrupt as paying 4.3% for 12 months worth of debt indicates the Rubicon has long been passed. Look for Portugal to be bailed out any minute

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