Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mallorca Tourism: Winners and losers of the year

Winner: Ryanair. At the start of the year, it had climbed into the world's top fifteen tourist/travel companies, based on market capitalisation, and so joined a list featuring what will now be the world's largest hotel concern - Marriott, assuming its takeover of Starwood is approved - as well as Hilton and Disney. At the end of the year, it made an offer to increase passenger numbers into Palma in exchange for lower airport tariffs in the off-season. As part of the European Low Fares Airline Association, it was lobbying for lower tariffs in general and by December was part of the call made to Brussels to act "immediately" in taking measures to reduce taxes.

Loser: Air Berlin. It had been in trouble for several years, and finally the decision to close the Palma hub could be put off no longer. Earlier in the year there were concerns being raised that it could go bust, so drastic action had to be taken. Fears that this will lead to losses for Mallorca are exaggerated, as Air Berlin's connections to the mainland weren't actually that significant, while other airlines are already sniffing the opportunities.

Winner: Palma. In March, it was named by "The Sunday Times" as the best place in the world in which to live, an accolade that didn't exactly go unnoticed here. Soon after, Iberostar's CEO for Europe and the Mediterranean said that the company was "betting 100%" on the city, while the CEO of Hesperia said that Palma had an "unbeatable future".

The efforts of Palma 365, about which scepticism had been expressed, were now starting to pay off, as was investment in boutique hotels. Interest was being aroused not only among potential visitors but also tour operators. Palma was in fashion. It can remain in fashion, so long as certain politicians keep their noses out.

Loser: All resorts in Mallorca except Magalluf. Politicians and the media have only two interests: Magalluf and Palma (Playa de Palma). The rest may as well not exist.

Winner: Biel Barceló. In government for the first time, the "eco-nationalist" of the Més party certainly made his presence felt. PSOE, partners in the government, had seemed less enthusiastic about the tourist tax, but Barceló and Més, aided by Podemos, were determined that it should be implemented. He kept giving out contradictory indications as to when it would be applied and what it would be used for, but it seems as if it will be in place by the start of the season (i.e. 1 May). As to purpose, all we know is that it has one, whatever this is.

Loser: Inma de Benito. She is a winner in one sense in that she became the president of the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation, but she was always destined to be a loser in the tourist tax stakes. Whatever the hoteliers might have to say or might want, the government will get its way.

Tour operators
Winner: Jet2. It had been making inroads into the conventional tourism market in any event, courtesy of a strong commitment to customer service, and now it sought to attack seasonality by bringing forward flights from some UK airports to February and March. There were criticisms as to prices and to Edinburgh being the last on this list (time-wise), but it was betting on Mallorca and so deserved acclaim for doing so.

Loser: All Russian tour operators. The collapse of Russian tourism continued, but it may recover next year because of bans on operations to Egypt and Turkey. However, the exchange rate remains an issue.

Winner: The British. Back they came in their droves, euros dripping from their pockets in great abundance as a strong pound made the British the touristic darlings of Mallorca once more.

Loser: The Russians, followed by the Germans who, for some inexplicable reason, came in fewer numbers in August than before.

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