Sunday, April 06, 2014

Mainly On The Plain: Tourism in Mallorca's centre

The size of a town's population doesn't determine whether it has or doesn't have some form of tourism or some form of tourism presence (there is a difference; I'll come to that). By population, Ses Salines with 5,227 inhabitants is the smallest Mallorcan town with a discernible tourism industry (consisting of Colonia Sant Jordi), though Deyá, with under a thousand residents, might also make a claim. But many Mallorcan towns have little tourism. Fourteen of them comprise the mancomunidad (commonwealth, if you like) of the Pla de Mallorca (Mallorca's plain). The largest of these towns is Porreres with 5,486 people; the smallest is Ariany with 877. If you combined all the fourteen, their collective population would still only make it the fourth largest town in Mallorca. They can muster 38,114 people between them, over 2,500 fewer than Manacor, the third largest municipality.

The towns of the plain neither have much by way of tourism nor much by way of tourism presence, i.e. official information for tourists (so I thought) or tourist information offices. In fact, between the fourteen towns there is only one information office. It is in Sineu and it only opens on Wednesday market days.

Acknowledging this lack of presence, the fourteen have hit on the idea of beefing up Sineu's office. They are planning on it opening every day, being staffed by someone who can speak different languages (especially English and German) and offering information about all the towns and not just Sineu, which is the case at present.

Apart from it already having this office, Sineu as the centre of the plain's tourism presence makes some sense. The geographic centre of Mallorca doesn't quite lie within its municipal boundaries, but it almost does; it is actually in the neighbouring Lloret de Vistalegre. But unlike Lloret, which no one has ever heard of, Sineu has been heard of. The market is one thing, there is also the palace of the Kings of Mallorca, which was redeveloped in the early fourteenth century, having previously been a Moorish building.

So Sineu has some form in terms of history that might appeal to the more discerning tourist; more so perhaps than any of the other towns on the plain. Petra might, thanks to Father Junipero Serra, claim otherwise, but it doesn't have a feature quite as dominating as Sineu's Santa Maria church. When it comes to a tourist information office, therefore, Sineu it is.

The towns lack a tourist presence not just because they don't have any information offices; their official websites are similarly without tourist presence. Go to them and you won't find on any of them something which shouts out "tourism". Montuïri does have something called "visita turística prehistórica y tradicional", a PDF for the Son Fornés museum and talayotic site, some of which is conveniently upside down. It does, though, point out that guided tours can be booked. Otherwise, the towns' websites, while several of them have menu entries for places of interest and for fiestas, make no mention of tourism.

But, tucked away on some of them is a link to "Visit Pla de Mallorca". I probably should have known of the existence of this, but I didn't. It is a separate website. And it isn't at all bad. The information is even in English (and German), and the information is pretty decent. There are historical backgrounds to each of the towns and, under "sightseeing", there are lists of features in each town which, when you click on them, give good detail. For example, the palace of the Kings of Mallorca was handed over to an order of nuns in the late sixteenth century. The description tells us much about its architectural development since then.

Who, though, is aware of this little gem of a website? Why is it sitting there, lurking on some of the municipal websites and not on others? Why is it seemingly not linked into some grander portal? Why is not more known of the information for places to stay? The agrotourism, for instance. Why is there not more awareness of a promotional video on YouTube? It was uploaded four years ago. It has only had slightly over 4,500 views.

A regularly manned tourist information office in Sineu is an improvement. It could hardly be anything other than an improvement, but one has to question the determination and/or interest in developing tourism in the towns of the Mallorcan plain. All the towns have now had to submit tourism plans (and I've mentioned a couple of them previously; those for Algaida and Montuïri). This obligation under the tourism law has probably shaken them out of a certain lethargy. Yet astonishingly, they had already got together and produced a highly informative website. It's just that no one knew it was there.

* Photo is of the convent at the former royal palace in Sineu. With due acknowledgement, it is taken from the website.

No comments: