Palma benefiting from shoppers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. | Teresa Ayuga

The recovery of tourist activity in Mallorca this winter has echoes of the mid-1990s, which was when Palma was promoted as a Christmas shopping destination for visitors from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and which assisted with tackling tourism seasonality on the island. The pandemic over and Palma is again a leading Christmas destination for these visitors.

TUI will be bringing around 1,000 tourists to Mallorca next week, while the Jetcost flight search website ranks Palma as the favourite destination for Germans during the second half of December and over the first week of 2023.

Tour operators suggest that the spending of these tourists is very similar to that of the luxury tourism market, with shops in the Born and Jaume III area of Palma the chief beneficiaries. And this despite the impact of inflation.

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A key reason is the availability of flights. Lufthansa and its Eurowings subsidiary provide some 80% of international flights to Mallorca in December, an inheritance of the position that Air Berlin once had as Palma's number one airline in terms of flights.

While the interest in Palma this winter is reminiscent of the Christmas shopping campaign that was launched in 1995, it is a reflection of the fact that the German market sustains low-season foreign tourism in Mallorca and has done for decades, even before 1995.

It was once the case that the British market was the largest in winter. This all began to change in the early 1980s. British tour operators found other destinations for winter, while Mallorca - for the Germans - was acquiring a reputation that was to see the island dubbed the 'seventeenth Länder' after reunification. This was inspired in no small part by residential tourism (second homes) and a German media interest in Mallorca that became so intense that it led to the Bild spoof - three German businessmen had offered to buy Mallorca.