Saturday, October 29, 2016

Upping Prices And Getting Away With Them

Despite talk that there was no furore about the tourist tax at the major European travel fairs last time round, it would be very wrong to believe that in private Balearic government representatives were not getting an earbashing. They got it. The Mallorca Hoteliers Federation largely kept a lid on things by not making public statements either. Too many were fooled into believing there was "normality", when there wasn't. The federation, for example, knew that drawing attention to the tax in overly vociferous terms could have been counterproductive. It has of course now taken the tax to court.

The round of fairs begins shortly. London's World Travel Market is the first (7-9 November) ¡, and one suspects that there are going to be some more choice words, with the hoteliers more in the firing-line. If the attitude of Sebastian Darder of the Palmanova-Magalluf hoteliers association is anything to go by, then UK tour operators (and tourists) can get stuffed. The tour operators may be trying things on somewhat by seeking lower prices, but the reaction verged on the despicable. It's understandable that hoteliers seek to maximise returns, but the attitude towards UK tourism was poor. Magalluf grew on UK tourism; Darder and others should remember that.

There was almost a sense of celebration that Magalluf can already boast a lower dependence on the UK market - down some 15%. There's going to be a great deal of spinning coming out of the London fair.

The fact is, though, that hoteliers appear to be able to increase prices without any fears that they'll see a drop in business. There are other markets who will fill any possible void left by UK tourism, and this was emphasised when I spoke earlier this week with a hotel director whose establishment is part of one of Mallorca's leading chains. Yes, his hotel is five-star, so the market is narrower than the typical tourist market, but he said that they have put up prices for next year because higher prices "are the market", as in what the market is prepared to pay. The same applies down the chain to four and three-stars.

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