Friday, February 14, 2014

The New Route To Cycling

Cycling tourism in Majorca is nothing new but it has undergone a significant boom in recent years. The hoteliers' federation calculates that it now generates an economic impact to the tune of sixty million euros per annum. But how does this 60 million stack up against the total economic impact of tourism? It is hard to be exact, because it is hard to know that like is being measured with like, but in 2011 the federation produced a report which estimated that the total impact was 9,090 million euros. 60 million, if one's being honest, is chicken feed in the overall scheme of things.

But overall scheme of things is what matters. Tourism is far from being standardised, either in terms of tourists themselves or the type of tourism in which they engage. Small the contribution may be, but the cycling niche, thanks to its boom, is finally realising benefits, and they most obviously manifest themselves in hotels opening earlier and more hotels opening earlier than has been the case. It is cycling and sports tourism in general which has prompted an increase in hotel openings this winter in Alcúdia. A total of thirty hotels will open between this month and April, seven more than last year, while in February alone, seven will have opened by the end of the month, which will be two more than 2013. The increases may not be huge but they are increases nevertheless.

A factor which may result in further early hotel opening over the next few years will be the grand cycling route which is to be created along the bay of Alcúdia. It has been promised for at least a decade but only now is going to come into being. One reason why it has been held back has been coming to an agreement as to precisely how to cope with the road that runs by the side of the Albufera nature park from the English bridge in Playa de Muro to Can Picafort. How this will be coped with has still to be explained, as Muro town hall, responsible for this section of the route (along presumably with the Council of Majorca, which has overall responsibility for the carreteras), has yet to present its design. Each of the three town halls involved - Alcúdia, Muro and Santa Margalida - will assume responsibility for layout of the route in their respective towns. At present, only Alcúdia has firmed up its ideas, which will see the route run from the coastal road coming from Puerto Pollensa, up to the Magic Roundabout and then along the Carretera Artà towards Playa de Muro.

The route will cost some 600,000 euros, and the finance will come from the regional government. The three town halls are also expected to apportion finance for the route from their 2014 budgets. All being well, and once Muro and Santa Margalida have finalised their designs, work could start on the route later this year. It is all pretty good news, it must be said.

Just going back to the economic impact of tourism and the report that the hoteliers' federation issued in 2011, it is interesting to see the marked difference between Pollensa and the bay of Alcúdia resorts. The economic impact was measured in terms of hotel activity and not total tourism activity, and so the difference highlights - not the first time - quite how small Pollensa's hotel tourism is by comparison with its neighbours. Alcúdia, perhaps surprisingly as it is the biggest of the resorts, didn't generate the most impact; Playa de Muro with 790 million beat Alcúdia's 748 million, an indication of the generally higher quality of Playa de Muro's hotels. Can Picafort generated 443 million, while Pollensa raised only 209 million.

Pollensa's performance is most definitely not a reflection of low quality hotels. Rather, it is reflection of the fact that the town does not have anything like the number of hotels as, say, Alcúdia does. It is also a reflection of just how important non-hotel accommodation, i.e. holiday lets (of different types) is to Pollensa's tourism economy.

For the record, the resort in Majorca which generated the highest economic impact was Playa de Palma - 1,665 million. Palmanova-Magalluf came second with 999 million.

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