The Spanish Minister for Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Reyes Maroto, told an economics convention in Palma yesterday that she is convinced the Balearics will enjoy a prolonged tourist season this year.
The minister stressed that the delay by many countries and key markets, especially the United Kingdom, in easing their travel restrictions will enable the tourist season to be extended.
Maroto said that the combination of the easing of travel restrictions, the success of the vaccination campaign, new tourism attractions and activities and the sustainable destination distinction, will help the Balearics extend the season. The minister also highlighted “the good international tourist figures” that Spain has enjoyed this summer.
5.2 million foreigners have come to Spain on holiday this year, according to the latest data, and “the Balearics continues to be the most popular destination”, with more than 25 percent of the total number of visitors to Spain, the minister told the conference at the Palma convention centre.
The Balearics was the top spot for foreign tourists in August, with 1.3 million visitors, a quarter of the national total and 188% more than in 2020 with a total expenditure of 1.58 billion euros, almost three times more than in 2020. But, this was still 42% fewer tourists than the 2.2 million recorded in August 2019 and spending was 43.5% down.
In August, the average expenditure per tourist in the Balearics was 1.209 euros, 3.4% more than the previous year; per day it was 167 euros, 11.3% more.
The average duration of the trip was shortened to 7.3 days.
The islands were also the region with the most overnight stays, posting more than 9.4 million, 167% higher than in August 2020.
Since January, 3.88 million international tourists have visited the Balearics, 163% more than in 2020, with a total expenditure of 4,564 million euros, 187% more than the previous year and 27% of the total expenditure in Spain.
But, across the country as a whole, international tourist figures fell by 4.2% up to August although spending increased to 16,898 million. Nevertheless, Maroto is encouraged by how the tourist industry is performing.
“The revival of the tourist industry is clearly underway and it is consolidating,” stressed Maroto, who underlined that in August, Spain managed to recover half of the tourists it received in 2019, which, the minister said, is evidence “that Spain is perceived as a safe destination”.
However, the minister explained that tourism should no longer be simply a numbers game.
She said that the industry should be more concerned about boosting profitability and encourage visitors to spend more than being obsessed about recuperating the record breaking numbers of tourists Spain, and the Balearics in particular, recorded in 2019.
“We must respect the resident population and the environment in the Balearics, which as islands suffer greater wear and tear due to the volume of tourists”.
This is why, she explained, Madrid is working very closely with the Balearic government and Palma council on modernising the tourism model with an investment of 3.4 billion euros over the next three years in a host of sustainability projects”.
The Balearic Minister for Tourism, Iago Negueruela, stated that “tourism of excesses or drunken tourism” is one of the “main challenges” he faces in improving quality in certain tourist areas in the Balearics.
The minister observed that this summer has been unlike others in respect of images of this “tourism of excesses or drunkenness”. It has been “much more controlled”.
It would be possible to find such images in any tourist destination. Even so, the focus is on preventing tourism of excesses in those areas specified by regional regulations.
“They are designed to end this type of tourism and will take full effect next year once Covid has passed.”
In January 2020, the Balearic government approved its decree law against tourism of excesses in specific tourist areas.
“It’s a pretty tough rule,” Negueruela admitted. He welcomed the efforts being made by businesses to transform these areas and emphasised that the public sector will support them and work with them to achieve this and to ensure that “the type of images are not produced again”.
As well as regulations such as those contained in the decree, Negueruela indicated that European funds should also allow improvements in ‘mature’ tourist areas, with a significant advance in certain parts of Mallorca and Ibiza.
Speaking more broadly, the minister referred to the fact that 85% of air traffic in the islands was recovered in July and August. Palma Son Sant Joan Airport had the most passengers of Spanish airports for much of the summer.
“The importance of tourism for our islands has been made clear.”
The tourism leadership of the Balearics over the summer was partly due, in his view, to the slow de-escalation of Covid restrictions - slower than in other regions of the country.
Looking ahead to 2022, the intention is “clear” and this is to recover the high figures registered in years prior to the crisis. Nevertheless, there has to be a more sustainable and higher quality tourism.
“We have to focus on quality and not so much on volume.
“We have seen that depending on volume also brings its risks.”
On Brexit, Negueruela believed that its possible effect on tourism in the Balearics has been “solved”, noting that there is no problem.
The UK continues to be one of the major markets, and the relationship between the Balearics and the UK is “fundamental”. This has been maintained thanks, in part, to the efforts made in direct communication with the UK.
“They trust our islands, and they have proven this by being one of the markets that has recovered the most.”
In this regard, he hailed the fact that the islands have practically monopolised British tourists coming to Spain as well as Germans.
“More or less one in three of all foreign tourists have come to the Balearic Islands this summer.”
* The tourism of excesses decree law applies to specific parts of Magalluf, Playa de Palma and Arenal (Llucmajor) in Mallorca and Sant Antoni in Ibiza.