Hotel occupancy up. EU unemployment. Lorry crash.

Hotels 80% full for Easter

The Regional Secretary of Culture, Tourism and Transport, Conceição Estudante revealed yesterday that hotel occupancy in Madeira at Easter is 80% – 10% more than in the same period in 2013.  The figures are based on a survey conducted by the Regional Directorate of Tourism covering hotel units in Madeira and Porto Santo. The Regional Secretary considered that the figures calculated for the sector are “very good”

EU long-term unemployment

Released yesterday, Eurostat unemployment data shows that nearly half of EU’s jobless have been out of work for over a year. This means long-term unemployment in the union’s 28 member states is the highest it has been for at least a decade. The Spanish regions of Andalusia, Ceuta, Melilla, the Canary Islands and Extremadura had the highest unemployment rates of the entire European Union with between 34% and 36% unemployment. The Eurostat study had even worse news for young people aged 15-24 in the worst hit regions, with Ceuta registering a youth unemployment rate of 71.7% (the worst in the EU), followed by Andalusia (66.1%) and the Canary Islands (65.3%).

In Portugal, the figures show Lisbon being the worst region (18.5% overall unemployment), followed by Madeira (18.3%) – the latter increasing from 17.5% in 2012. Can’t find any specific figures on youth unemployment here.

Lorry crash in São Roque

RTP Madeira report that a lorry crashed on the rotunda dos Viveiros (below the large Continente store) in the lower part of São Roque, at 5.00pm last night causing traffic congestion and preventing access to rua 5 de Outubro and Funchal. Apparently the wagon lost it’s load whilst negotiating the roundabout – the lorry crashed into a passenger car, whilst the container fell into the yard of a house, causing significant damage. The driver was injured – a fault in the braking system is suspected.

More botanical art

The third of four paintings by Angie Gray (see two previous blogs). This one a Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia):

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Machico Ultra Trail. Reduced pensions. Savoy. easyJet winter schedules.

Machico Ultra Trail

The Machico Ultra Trail takes place this coming weekend. The event seems to be growing in popularity year-upon-year (749 athletes from 24 different countries this year), and I understood that there was a series of mountain races of marathons/half-marathon length (42km/20km) based around Machico, but I had no idea that the “headline” race was 85km from one end of the island to the other:

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Apparently runners have 26 hours to complete the course, which starts in Porto Moniz and climbs suicidally to Paul da Serra, levels out to Encumeada and then takes in Pico Ruivo before descending into Machico. If that isn’t enough there is an even longer race with a distance of 115km. Good luck to anybody mad enough (and fit enough) to even attempt this. More details here: http://madeiraultratrail.com/pten/en-GB/ and also on the appropriately named www.happyblister.com

Reduced income for pensioners

New rules have come into force today in reducing the tax threshold for pensioners to €1000 per month – any pension above this point will have contributions deducted (the previous level was €1350). This is a result of recent Portuguese budget amendments.

Savoy

Following up on a question posted on the last blog regarding the rebuilding of the landmark hotel, a reader kindly sent in the following update as of earlier this week:

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A small remnant of the old Savoy architectural styling is evident in the foreground and the Carlton in the background – metal hoardings block the view from the surrounding roads but nothing has happened for years. I understand that the new development was planned by two businessmen, one of whom died, and that the project is now in the hands of the bank that was financing them.

easyJet

imageeasyJet’s Winter 2014/15 schedules were released yesterday (for travel up to 28th February).

Botanical art from Madeira

Finally, another painting from Angie Gray as promised, this time a Protea:

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Hospital expansion. Telexfree. Aixperte link. Botanical paintings.

Hospital expansion?

The Diario reports today on plans to add six buildings, each of ten stories, to the Dr. Nelio Mendonca Hospital – the main hospital on the island. A lot of construction work has already been undertaken recently, so I’m not sure how much of this is old news dressed up as new news – there are  some ambitious artists impressions on various website going back a number of years. The planning implications and the impact on “green belt” are to be discussed today by the Câmara do Funchal.

Telexfree

This pyramid-selling scheme continues to grow on the island despite being outlawed in many countries. I do actually know people who have made reasonable amounts of money by joining a year or so ago and recruiting new members, who recruit new members etc etc. The scheme has courted controversy in the local press with people condemning it as illegal whilst others defend it – recent articles in the Diario online have attracted 500+ comments. The Telexfree Madeira Facebook page has 2000+ “likes”.

Telexfree idescribes itself as a “multilevel marketing” company that counts about 40,000 subscribers in Madeira in just eighteen months of operation. These are people who joined the “business” with a minimum initial investment of 1035 euros, the amount for opening an ‘account’ – they subsequently place ads on the internet and recruit members on the same basis for which they are paid a royalty (didn’t this used to be called a “Ponzi” scheme?)

Useful links

More links are added to this page (see tab above) as a result of suggestions from readers together with informative sites unearthed whilst trawling the internet. The latest is a link to the recent Aixpert aerial videos of different parts of Madeira

Botanical artistry!

The blog has found an opportunity to illustrate the work of a local artist specialising in painting the local flora. Angie Gray has just been awarded full membership of the Society of Botanical Artists (UK) after they viewed her paintings on selection day for their London exhibition titled “Botanical Garden” – to be held at Westminster Central Hall in London between 9th – 18th May (details on the SBA website). She submitted a painting of the tulip tree and Canna indica, plus 3 other paintings in application for membership; along with a written article on Madeira being “The Floating Garden of the Atlantic”. I won’t publish them all here, but tag one on to the end of each of the the next few blogs. The first is the Heliconia below:

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