2022 tourism was good, despite problems in the aviation sector. | Pilar Pellicer


Nicolas Huss is the CEO of Palma-based Hotelbeds, the largest bed bank in the world. Owned by the British fund Cinven and the Canadian CCPIB, the company was bought from Tui in 2016. It has a portfolio of 300,000 hotels around the world, 1,600 of which are in the Balearics.

Recovery of tourism demand, he says, has been stronger than expected and has occurred despite the "ups and downs" that have been the consequence of war in Ukraine and problems experienced in the aviation industry. It has been a recovery in which last-minute sales have become widespread - a result of these uncertainties - and while this has put pressure on hotels, recovery has been marked by increased hotel prices, a trend that will continue in order to ensure profitability. "Last minute is a trend that is here to stay, so businesses have to adapt to this dynamic because the customer profile varies and is evolving."

While Huss believes that it is difficult to make forecasts for the second half of 2023, as there are "more clouds than ever", he stresses that purchase intentions "have not gone down". "In all the countries in which we operate, the purchase intention is growing in the couples and family segments. Tourism is very resilient and though stays may be shorter, holidays are not being given up."

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With regard to the Balearics, he observes that the islands have had a great year and that "everything indicates that 2023 will be the same or better". Forecasting is more complicated because of the volume of last-minute bookings and competition is going to increase; this is "normal". But the Balearics' market share will continue.

"The Balearics have very strong advantages, because of the tourist DNA, very good infrastructure and collaboration between the private and public sectors to maintain the current tourism ecosystem and to improve it; competitor destinations do not have this. This said, we may believe that we are unique, but there are many parallel international destinations. In the Balearics, once you have achieved success, it is difficult to reinvent yourself to continue advancing. But we are all pursuing the same goal; the entire tourism value chain seeks the best for the Balearic ecosystem."

As to tensions this summer because of tourist numbers, Huss insists that "you have to have a more global vision". "Sensation is one thing, reality is another. What has been experienced in the Balearics this summer, specifically in Mallorca, has also been experienced in many other holiday destinations in the Mediterranean. It is a cluster of external factors that always have an impact."

On the development of the American market, he points to a rapid recovery which has partly been due to the strength of the dollar. Europe has been particularly attractive this year because of restrictions in Asian destinations. "This explains why American tourists have gone to destinations they never used to go to. Here it has been the United Airlines flight from New York-Newark to Palma. For 2023 there are questions, mainly because there will be more global competition. If the dollar remains at the same levels against the euro, we will benefit."