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AN OPEN LETTER TO JOANA BARCELO, MINISTRY FOR TOURISM

HERE we go again. Somebody else jumping on the “Quality Tourist” bandwagon (Daily Bulletin Wednesday). Do you and your colleagues in the Ministry of Tourism not realise that it has been tried several times over the years … and it has NOT worked. Furthermore, spending 44 million euros on promoting this kind of tourism is ludicrous.

I suspect you don't know what a “quality tourist” is. You probably think it is somebody that will stay in a five star hotel, spend the day looking at carob trees and at night watching a concert at the Costa Nord after a nice meal in a Michelin star restaurant. Wrong.

If you were to ask your forefathers what a “quality tourist” is they would tell you it was one of those millions of tourists who flocked to Arenal, C'an Pastilla and Palma Nova in the 1960s who came with their wife and 2.4 children. They came for a good and cheap holiday and were prepared to spend their hard earned cash in a two week binge of eating, drinking and having a good time. They are the backbone of the tourist industry on this island and the Tourism Board should do everything in their powers to maintain this rapidly dwindling market, and spend money on targeting those people who have deserted us for other destinations to try and get them back – and there are many. That advertising campaign using Rafa Nadal did not work so, how are you going to get people to come to these islands?

You have 44 million euros available. Why not go to the big tour operators in the UK (and Germany) and entice them to promote these islands in their brochures and retail outlets. A little slice of the 44 million should sort that out. Then you must go to the largest of the online companies selling hotel accommodation and get them to make Majorca (note the spelling) the most prominent destination on their websites. Doing all this will brainwash customers into wanting to come to this beautiful island of ours.

OK, part one accomplished and there should be a good 35 million left after paying the necessary ‘incentives'.
Don't start rubbing your hands thinking you've made 35 million – you haven't. You have now got to do something with it now that you have hopefully got people to come here on holiday. Firstly some of the resorts desperately need cleaning up and many hotels definitely need an upgrade. If you have to lend them the money out of your 44 million (less the “incentives” to the Tour Operators etc), then so be it.

Your next objective should be to get Palma “open” at weekends. This is a must for all trade - but how attractive it would make Palma as a weekend destination if bar, restaurants and shops were open on a Saturday and Sunday. I'm sure you have heard this before but desperate times need desperate measures.

With the rest of your money I think you should spend it on educating hotel receptionists, waiters, barmen and shop assistants how to be nice to customers and not engage in conversations with other people, or speaking on mobile phones, whilst serving customers. You need to let them know how much damage it does both their business and the image of the island.

So Sra. Barcelo, I hope I have convinced you that “Quality Tourists” are not the ones that will help you to sustain your wealth but “proper tourists” at what you call the “bottom end” of the market. If you don't get it right this time it will be back to the finca and the donkey – oh! how your forefathers would be disappointed to see all their good work undone.

Ian Morrison