The World Travel Market has been and gone and we’ve been inundated with our politicians grabbing the headlines. Anyone in the travel industry will tell you that meeting in London is actually one big jolly and in reality, any business could be done on zoom or through a phone call. Let me give you some examples of the headlines,
“UK tour operators pledge to market Palma in the low season”
“Balearics gets on its bike for World Travel Market”
“British praise for Magalluf changes”
Good attention grabbing headlines right? Well yes but actually not from this year, they were taken from the World Travel Market in 2015! So six years later those three headlines are exactly the same again.
This year Sir Chris Hoy was rightly praising Mallorca for cycling but back in 2015 it was Sir Bradley Wiggins doing exactly the same.
Back in 2015 low season was high on the agenda, just as it has been this time. Six years later I checked with the Mallorca Hotel Federation (FEHM) if there was a significant change in the number of hotels remaining open. So how many hotels do you think are open on the island right now? It’s 25% and from December it goes down to just 15%. We have campaigns such as Palma 365 and Calvia 365, supposedly put in place to encourage year round tourism. I thought I’d take it further and ask the Magaluf and Palma Nova hotel association how many hotels were open right now.
Remember the headline back in 2015 “British praise for Magalluf changes” So surely six years later we should be in a better place? Well less than 5% of the beds available in all of the hotels are currently open.
We’re an island so people have got to fly to get here but there are currently no flights from Scotland, first flight according to my Scottish friend Gus, is from Edinburgh March 27th next year. Their nearest airport with flights to Mallorca is Manchester.
No flights from Wales until April next year according to my Welsh friend Martin. South Wales their nearest airport to Mallorca is London Gatwick. North Wales their nearest airport to Mallorca is Manchester or Liverpool.
No flights from Ireland or Northern Ireland until March next year according to my Irish friend Barbara. They would have to fly to England first to get here.
There are limited flights from England, but nowhere near enough to promote a winter season. It’s a damning verdict on the powers that be. Now it’s very easy to blame the pandemic but this was a problem pre-pandemic. It seems to me that rather than go in with some new ideas, old ones have been rehashed and advances promised in 2015 have failed.
I applaud the promotion of sports tourism both in Calvia and around the island but as I said a couple of weeks ago, it’s nothing new. We should be the number one sports destination now as our facilities have been the best for years. We’ve had two big golfing events in the last couple of weeks in Calvia. But neither were well attended and I know because I went to both. Neither were well marketed either and the bigger one in Santa Ponsa had the marketing flags put on lampposts the day before it started and as i write and drive past three weeks after, they are still there!
The Government don’t want “excessive tourism” which I understand as they want to promote a higher standard of accommodation to families and couples. Although I believe you could still have the so called “excessive tourism” if it was controlled and was policed properly. Back in the 90’s when I first arrived, families and young people mixed in Magaluf and Palma Nova with very few problems.
There is also an opinion that the “excessive tourism” only happens on the Punta Ballena. Have you been to certain beach clubs on an afternoon in the height of summer? It might not be the Punta Ballena but the behaviour could still be classed as excessive only slightly more expensive! By the way I’m not saying don’t enjoy yourself, you’re on holiday so you should. But with better control by the venues and the authorities it wouldn’t be a problem.
I was in Benidorm a month ago where that mix of young and old was happening and with very few problems that I could see. Judging by what I saw in the Summer, Palma Nova has turned itself around and now has a good mix of bars, cafes, restaurants and beach clubs all offering high standards and service. The winter will be a struggle for those who are valiantly trying to stay open and good on them for giving it a go.
So what about Magaluf?
Well something needs to be done as it’s been left and left and left and nobody it seems is taking control. Firstly let me say I’m not talking about the beachfront. I’ve said it before, it has turned itself around and for me has one of the best beaches on the island, with lots of great bars, cafes, restaurants and beach clubs. A lot of the bars and clubs in the second line too have invested in their premises and are looking much better. Look at BCM, they’ve invested millions and will need lots of people to fill it.
If you want the summer season to be more quality and less quantity then that’s fine but it’s a dangerous game to play if you don’t get the numbers. So I’m going to put something out there that could help the problem. Why not make Magaluf the Benidorm of the winter? Airlines particularly the low cost ones are still running busy flight programmes into Alicante. I’m sure they’d jump at the chance to send more flights here. Right now the resort is closed and won’t reopen until April. So promote it as a party resort in the winter. That doesn’t mean return to the ugly scenes we’ve seen before. It needs controlling through limited hours and policing. Let’s face it the police have nothing to do in the winter so it could be done. I’m also not just talking about young people, older people enjoy a good day or night out too. What I saw in Benidorm was a mix of young and old enjoying themselves together. You may not need all the hotels but surely more than the 5% that are currently open. More businesses can stay open and less people will be claiming the unemployment benefit. Surely it’s a winner in all areas? At the moment we have the same old politicians coming up with the same old ideas and getting nowhere fast. How about putting a working party together of business people in the area who want to see it get better. I’m more than happy to help although to be honest I think I’m possibly too old. In my opinion it needs younger eyes with new and realistic ideas to take it forward.
We are being duped into thinking that things are good. Nothing I’m sure to do with the local elections happening in 18 months time? But if you drill down past the headlines it doesn’t take you long to get the real story.
Something positive I’m sure can be done but please can we cut the crap and just get on with it!
Take care everyone and enjoy your Weekend!
Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday 07.30-11.00am 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!
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