Dear Sir,

Having expressed some rather negative views in my last email, may I now try to put forward a positive approach to your problem of winter tourism. The problem is a chicken and egg one – where do we start. May I suggest that the main parties involved are the local government, including the Tourist Board, airlines, hotels and their association, and the supporting business enterprises, i.e. restaurants, bars, taxis, providers of food and other materials, etc .

Government – what have they at stake? Well, when businesses shut up shop for the winter, they pay less Vat, national insurance and income tax. They also have to pay unemployment and other benefits. Has anybody ever worked out what the total cost might be?

Airlines – they presumably have to lay up aircraft, whilst continuing to pay lease rentals and/or interest on their capital cost. They must also have a problem with staff employment and underutilised facilities, all of which cost money.

Hotels – underutilised properties means a loss of income. Staff redundancies and the recruitment of new staff at the beginning of the following year means more cost and training. More lost revenue.

Business enterprises – the losses are evident for all to see.
What stands out about this is that everybody is losing money, but probably most of all, the Government.
What can be done ?
Government – might I suggest that a resident travel allowance of, say, 25%, be available on all flights from Palma to EU destinations (along the same lines as the current inter Spain allowance of 50%) during the period of November to May.

The Tourist Board should enter an intensive Promotion campaign in the UK, next summer, having given time for the other parties to decide on their course of action.

Airlines – the two main budget companies, Ryanair and easyJet appear currently to be flying on only one or two days a week to Stansted (the airport that I use). Might I suggest that they put on a weekly return flight to, say Edinburgh, Leeds, Bristol, and maybe one other if it can be fitted in. Palma should be the hub to avoid moving planes between airports, and this will mean reversing the existing flights to Stansted. They might negotiate reduced landing fees. There may be problems with flight slots.

Hotels – it seems to me that with additional flights, the demand for hotel rooms will increase.
A further market that seems to be untapped is the long term winter residence tourist. A large hotel in Alcudia seems to have cracked this nut – it is open all year and has managed to persuade it's Scandinavian tourists that it is just as cheap to stay in the hotel as to remain in their home country, plus they have the benefit of activities.

The pricing for the months January to March is a vital component. Maybe they would be worth a visit to see how it is done. Agreement to keep some hotels open is essential.

It is too late this year, but winter 2012 might be a good starting point. My view is, that to get a campaign started, a meeting of the various key figures is required.

The aim must be to get the necessary commitments. It seems to me, that you, Jason, would be an ideal Chairman of such a meeting – you probably know all the influential parties already, and have a publicity machine behind you.

If any of this were to be successful, I would be digging my own grave – as you know I like things as they are!!

Geoff Rose

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