Firstly I just wanted to say thanks for all the feedback I got from last weeks column and blog. Obviously it was seen by all the readers of the Daily Bulletin and its been viewed more than 1500 times on my blog in all of these countries. The UK, Spain, Netherlands, USA, Canada, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, France, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Australia, Andorra, Turkey and Jersey.
My concluding question last week was has it all been worth it? I did say I don’t do the serious stuff but this weeks subject follows on nicely from that question so I feel I’ve got to continue.
This weekend would normally be the traditional launch of the Summer season here in Mallorca. But here we are still in lockdown and the prospect at the moment of not knowing when or if we are actually going to be able to start.
In order for the tourists to return we firstly need to get our state of alarm lifted. That started this week with a four phase plan set out by the Government and then each autonomous region manages their lockdown but still having to ask the Government about any change. The Balearic Government have already stated that the airports and ports will be one of the last things to reopen. All Spanish airports are anticipating reopening on a phases basis too, with national traffic first, then European and then international.
With that in mind surely with the number of cases and deaths across Spain why would the Government consider national travel first before European and international? Unless there’s going to be testing either at the airports or beforehand with some kind of proof that you are not carrying the virus then I don’t see that as a good way to start.
Passenger numbers through Palma airport were up 2.4% in February 2020 compared to 2019 which was encouraging. By mid March this of course all changed and by the end of March they were down 60%. This decrease has continued and will continue until someone comes up with a plan.
16,453,697 tourists visited the Balearics last year. The three predominant markets which made up 67% overall were Germany with 4,539,921, the UK with 3,745,545 and Spain with 2,772,773. The next closest was Scandinavia with 780,278.
Within those numbers Mallorca received 11,869,977 or 72% of the overall numbers. 4,182,626 were from Germany, 2,425,356 were from the UK and 1,597915 from Spain. Of those top three Germany seem to be in the best position to travel to the island. The sweeping statement by the German government’s tourism commissioner this week who said in an interview that there would be risks travelling to Spain this Summer probably didn’t help. When you consider that overall cases in the Balearics stand at just under 1% of the total across Spain. You have to say there is a very small chance of catching it here.
The whole of tourism across the island is in a current state of paralysis with the majority of staff on ERTE, the Spanish equivalent of furlough. The measures brought in so far do not alleviate any of the problems and at the moment there doesn’t seem to be much hope until the end of June. The hotels have been told they can reopen on May 11th but not their common areas. However they have a far greater problem as in the UK Tui have cancelled all holidays until June 11th, Jet2 say they will restart on June 17th. Both of these seem unlikely for us here as travel between provinces and islands in Spain has been banned until at least June 22nd, so when air and land borders will be reopened for foreign tourists remains to be decided upon.
This Government has been accused of being anti-tourism in the past with measures such as the Tourist Tax, Holiday rentals, reducing cruise ship numbers and alcohol laws. Now it needs a plan to kickstart the whole economy, it’s not going to be easy and the phases brought in so far are cautious.
Tourism in Spain is the third major contributor to national economic life after the industrial and the business/banking sectors, contributing about 10–11% of Spains GDP. Now you compare that to the Balearic Islands and a totally different picture emerges. Tourism has been the “main industry” and still is the main engine of growth in the Balearic Islands economy. A study by the European Union European Regional Development Fund in 2017 said that Tourism activities account for more than 44.2% of regional GDP in the Balearic Islands and generate more than 30.8% of total direct employment on the islands (employing currently more than 130.000 people), that is three out of ten jobs. In addition, it should be noted that tourism has an indirect impact on other types of sectors: services, agriculture, construction, etc. altogether representing more than 85% of the Balearic GDP.
That is a frightening figure and shows firstly what a mess we’re in and secondly if that figure is so high why would you be anti-tourism?
I’ve been in tourism for the whole of my working life. Starting in the Uk at Butlins, followed by Tour Operating here in 1990 and then the excursion side in Pirates since 1994. I’m no expert but this is serious and at the moment we’re on a pedalo without peddles.
Mallorca in my opinion is one of the best holiday destinations in the World. We’re an island with turquoise blue waters, secret coves, soft golden sands, lush green foliage, rugged mountains, picturesque villages, amazing cuisine, bustling nightlife and a vibrant capital city. We’re also an island in the Med only a couple of hours flight from most European cities. We may be in a problematic situation right now but we’ll be back.
Take care everyone and enjoy your weekend!
Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday07.30-11.00am on 93.8fm in Mallorca and 102fm in Calvià, online at www.radioonemallorca.com on mobile through their free App for IPhone & Android, The Tunein Radio App, iTunes, the Spanish TDT TV service and all smart speakers. If you can’t hear him on the radio then you’ll find him working at Pirates Adventure the islands number one night out and every now and again he may make an understudy appearance!