Friday, November 07, 2014

Always On At The World Travel Market

"Always on"? This was the slogan of adverts which appeared in a couple of British newspapers that were apparently designed to convince readers of "The Sun" and "The Mirror" to come to the Balearics. It was a slogan for the missing words round of "HIGNFY" or for a Terry Wogan to invite you to win your touristic "Blankety Blank" cheque book and pen. Always on top? Always on my mind? Always on the buses? Always on fire? Always on the take? Always on drugs? Always on what exactly? A Mr. Sean Dobson nailed it in a letter to "The Bulletin" quite rightly questioning its meaning. He also questioned the use of "Illes Balears" in the adverts. The reason? Sun and Mirror readers wouldn't have a clue what they were.

The ads coincided with the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, which has now come to an end. Everything was coinciding with the fair, such as the release of the promotional video "Calvia Beach V1" and the arrival from different parts of Spain of the all important politicians. President Bauzá was thus compelled to try and avoid national tourism minister Soria (he can't stand him, and the feeling is mutual), but Soria had to be there in order to present the state's case for the prosecution of Magalluf, which was really what the WTM was all about (for Mallorca at any rate). As a worthy at Calvia town hall noted this week, Magalluf has become a "question of state", and the state was making it clear that it has had enough.

Outdoing the Balearics (sorry, Illes Balears) presence at the WTM was Meliá with their own stand and the Calvia Beach promo video of their inspiration, a good enough attempt at promoting what for some would appear to be the un-promotable (a wrong view in my opinion). For form's sake Meliá presumably had to accept the appearance of Calvia's assistant mayor for tourism, Eugenia Frau, in the video, despite her giving the impression of having been under duress with someone off camera pointing a gun at her, and also of tourism minister Jaime Martínez, who cuts a fine figure of promotion for tourism and sport in the Illes Balears. Jaime was in all the photos at the WTM, an omnipotent presence, never at the centre of things but hovering in the background like a menacing bouncer at a strip club.

While all the attempts at righting the image of Magalluf and therefore by association the image of Mallorca and the Illes Balears were going on, back on the rock Calvia town hall had gathered all and sundry, except for a new business association, to consider the "futuro". And this future looks likely to include measures against bar crawls and PRs. Calvia's bizarre legalising of bar crawls up to a certain number of participants backfired spectacularly, and with Martínez determined to eliminate bar crawls - no doubt with the full best wishes of the state - they seem destined to crawl to a halt.

Something else which has emerged over the past few days is the likelihood that Magalluf, as well as Santa Ponsa and Peguera, will officially be declared a "mature zone" in tourism terms. While there are few resorts which can be considered anything other than mature, this is a specific measure contained in the tourism law which is designed to do a number of things. One, any development in a resort (within reason) will be considered to be in the "regional interest" and thus benefit from a removal of whole loads of bureaucracy and licensing requirements. Two, it makes it incumbent on local authorities and businesses to up the quality ante in resorts. The chat in local tourism industry circles has, therefore, included suggestions that the mature zone declaration could have repercussions for Punta Ballena (of a positive variety), though quite what these might be is at present anyone's guess. Nonetheless, there has been ample evidence over the past few days, from the WTM and the island, that there is a dynamic shifting into gear which will result in a genuine transformation that extends beyond the Meliá new town of Calvia Beach.

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