How it couldn’t be otherwise, Christie & Co did not want to miss the conference about Successful Destinations Management organised by Hosteltur on Friday October the 28th in Palma de Majorca. As a main theme: Balearic Islands, a destination that, due to the increase of tourists during the last season, has noticed the increasing need of reorienting their own tourism management to avoid to die as result of success.
The Balearics received 9.6 million foreign tourists in the first eight months of this year, with a 10.6% increase in comparison with last year. While this fact has been a reason for celebration for most of the hoteliers in the Balearic Islands, all speakers agreed on the need of a deepest analysis which could enable to measure the profitability’s decrease which, ironically, has accompanied the current tourism records. In the same approach, Inmaculada de Benito -President of the Majorca’s Hotelier Association- underlined the importance of a new model based on quality and not on quantity.
Probably, not changing what already works, together with the lack of urgency due to the high performance of the sector year after year, or the recent economic crisis difficulties, have led Majorca second Spanish best destination last summer in terms of visitors, to develop a questionable and less profitable tourism model. Furthermore, as Hans Müller -Hotel Contracting Director at Thomas Cook Group- pointed out, mismanagement of tourism growth has entailed a total lack of infrastructure, a complete collapse of roads and insufficient public services able to supply the growing number of tourists on the island.
Although the contribution of Balearic tourism to GDP represents nearly 50%, last season has left a bittersweet taste. Good tourism results cannot longer hide the problems that more than 11 million tourists generate on the Islands. Some of the current tourism’s challenges in the Balearics are: beach massification, roads collapses (exacerbated by the huge influx of rental cars), difficulties in water supply, need of new investments in public services (even greater due to the large influx of cruises), the bad image generated by the popular “drunkenness tourism” or the conflicts arising from the new law which is intended to be adopted against the bars and restaurants’ terraces.
As part of the new tourism model needed for the Balearic Islands, as mentioned by Jordi William Carnes –General Manager of Tourism in Barcelona-, there are other important challenges to which special attention should be given: the growing Chinese tourism weight, the importance of reducing seasonality in the Balearic Islands and the need of adapting the tourism model to the new digital platforms. However, the important effort that many hoteliers have recently done in terms of refurbishing their hotels which have been considered out of date during recent years, should be the basis of the future model.
With regard to the discrepancies in the tourism sector, it became clear along the debate that the most important relates with the new models of tourist accommodation. The aggressive penetration of this type of housing in the accommodation’s supply is generating too many worries, especially in Majorca. In addition, the overcrowding of flats used for this purpose, prevents the traditional rental and forces many employees and seasonal workers to move away from their workplaces. Moreover, uncontrolled mass tourism or the unfairness of that business model in comparison to hoteliers that pay their taxes, get their licenses and their insurance contracts, are also important reasons for the conflict.
The figures of 2016 as well as the growth experienced year after year show that the Balearics are, and will continue being, a prime tourist destination which generates interest among hoteliers, tour operators, investors, etc. Christie & Co is confident that: i) the efforts of certain hotel groups to revitalise some areas of the Islands; ii) the efforts of the institutions to improve Balearic overall brand and each Island brand in particular; iii) the government efforts to regulatethe new tourist accommodation; as well as iv) the citizens accepting and supporting the main economic sector of the Community, would make easier to create a new sustainable, profitable and fair tourism model that will undoubtedly be beneficial for everyone.