In an article of 21 November (http://alcudiapollensa.blogspot.com.es/2013/11/quality-of-official-tourist-websites-or.html) I considered pilot research at Barcelona's Universitat Pompeu Fabra into the quality of official tourism websites. The article said that more comprehensive research was on its way and that it would look into the quality of websites for all the autonomous regions of Spain. That research has now been published and it doesn't make for good reading for those responsible for the www.illesbalears.es website.
Though the researchers had not previously looked at the Balearics website, I, for the purposes of that article, had, and the conclusions I drew have more or less been echoed by what the researchers are now saying. Where illesbalears falls down in particular is in its interactivity with users (virtually non-existent) and in its "commercialisation" (the ability for users to be able to book something). Its content, though, is considered to be reasonable.
The research ranks the seventeen websites according to technical, persuasive, relational and communicative aspects, and the Balearics site, rated as below average, is placed fourteenth out of the websites for the different regions. Worse are those for Aragon and Extremadura, two areas of Spain which have comparatively limited tourism industries; Castile and León is the other one. Topping the list is Galicia, followed by the Canaries and Valencia.
Fourteenth position really isn't very impressive for a region that is so dependent upon tourism and that prides itself on its technological leadership when it comes to tourism. And this technological angle has been made even more acute since the announcement that nearly 450 million euros (half European Union, half Spanish Government) is to be made available for a Balearic Government strategy for technology initiatives with tourism at their core.
These initiatives will be for the private sector and the investment should be excellent news for entrepreneurs and small businesses seeking to develop new business. They will also be very much in line with the wishes of the regional government for the private sector to take the lead, as it has in tourism and as President Bauzá has very much admitted.
As the president has as good as said that the government doesn't have the know-how to run tourism and that the private sector does, then why doesn't it just hand over something like its tourism internet presence to the private sector? It doesn't seem interested in its own website and probably wouldn't have the resources to make it work meaningfully. The lack of interactivity and mobile communication that is apparent when one goes onto the website or when one searches on social media may well be evidence of a lack of resources. A meaningful web presence for tourism demands interactivity. If the government's tourism ministry cannot make it meaningful, then it should let people who can take care of the website.
The research findings are hardly surprising, but if the tourism ministry doesn't now act on them then there is something very wrong. It shows a lack of professionalism as well as interest to persist with a website that is inadequate. And in the scheme of things, putting a decent one together should not cost a fortune. Moreover, the website contradicts what was in the tourism plan that the ministry drew up in 2012. It was replete with stuff about web technologies, but one has the impression, in the absence of any real evidence as their exploitation, that this was window-dressing.
Perhaps the new man at the ministry, Jaime Martinez, will prove this impression to be a wrong one, but one thing is for sure, the ministry needs to pull its finger out. Its website is an embarrassment for islands which are at the very heart of Europe's tourism.
* The report's title is "Sitios web turísticos de las comunidades autónomas españolas". The research was sponsored by the national government's ministry for the economy and competitiveness.