Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Guilty By Associations

How many associations, federations, organisations can one island need? How many such bodies can one industry need? Tourism is hugely important, but the industry is sinking under the sheer weight of its collective organisational body.

Let's identify, shall we, just some of these organisations. Among those charged with tourism promotion and development are the Balearics Tourism Agency, the Fomento del Turismo (Mallorcan Tourism Board), the Fundación Mallorca Turismo, the Mesa del Turismo and the cluster Balears.t, to which will soon be added "mesas de alcaldes" (literally, mayors' tables).

The hoteliers, in addition to federations in different towns, have at least two bodies - a federation of hoteliers and an association of hotel chains. Businesses, other than the hotels, are represented by Acotur, Pimeco, the chamber of commerce, and the local confederation of businesses. To all this lot, you can add associations for different niches and whatever the town halls might or might not be up to.

Duplication, triplication, quadruplication are endemic in Mallorca. Why have one organisation when a dozen will do just as well? It all starts at the top of course. At governmental level. President Bauzà is at least trying to address the duplications that exist between regional government, island councils and town halls, but he faces an uphill task in a society which appears to believe in more being better, especially if this means several bodies doing the same as each other.

Is Mallorca's tourism industry disappearing up its own backside of associations? Or did it disappear there some time ago? What on earth do all these different organisations do? Apart from duplications, the impression is of a multiplicity of talking shops and competing and self-interests.

I'll give you a test. Tell me this. What is the difference between the Balearics Tourism Agency, the Fomento del Turismo and the Fundación Mallorca Turismo? Give up? The answer is that the first is part of the regional government's tourism ministry. The second is private with, among others, directors of leading hotel chains on its board. As for the third, this comprises the Council of Mallorca, the Mallorcan hoteliers federation, the chamber of commerce and ... and the Fomento del Turismo. And what do they all they do? Pretty much the same things. Twice over in the case of the Fomento, to say nothing of the hoteliers popping up on both the Fomento and separately on the Fundación.

The Mesa del Turismo? Anyone wish to hazard a guess? No? This is the regional government tourism ministry, the local confederation of businesses and the main trades unions. Cluster Balears.t? What in God's name is this? Hard to say, but it wishes to improve the selling of the Balearics tourism product, which is presumably what all the others want to do as well.

And now we are going to get the mayors' tables. This is a new nest of tables dreamt up by tourism minister Delgado. The mayors of the Balearics can sit around them and come up with ways to improve the quality of the Balearics brand. To do what!? Yes, to improve the Balearics brand. What's it got to do with the mayors? And there we were also thinking that Delgado had cottoned onto the idea that you brand what the tourist punter recognises (Mallorca for example) and not the unrecognisable, be it Calvia or the Balearics.

Then you come to the associations for businesses, those for the hotels and those primarily for the complementary offer, i.e. anything to do with tourism which isn't a hotel.

Acotur, the association of tourist businesses (appropriately enough) has, as an example of its efforts, been talking to Alcúdia's mayor about pressing concerns in the resort, one of them being the scale of illegal street selling. It has actually (and unsuccessfully) been trying to do something about this for years, producing notices of a "Grange Hill" "just say no" style to ask tourists not to buy from the looky-looky men.

The mayor will probably do nothing, other than say that the police are looking into it and to remind everyone that there is a local by-law that outlaws street selling (and indeed the purchase of illegally traded products), which does raise the question as to why an individual town hall needs to have a separate law or to act unilaterally, a point which Pimeco (small to medium businesses association), and not Acotur, wishes to address by getting all 53 local councils to unify in a grand anti-looky action.

I apologise. I can well imagine that you are totally lost by now. It is small wonder though. So many bodies, so many doing the same things, and so many failing to achieve anything. Mallorca. Guilty by associations.

Any comments to please.

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