BALEARICS have one of the very best products in the mass holiday market and I find it hard to understand what Michael Douglas can add to their appeal that good professional public relations and sustained marketing would not achieve in a more effective way, writes Ray Fleming. I respect Mr Douglas as an actor and producer and I am glad that he has the same feelings for Majorca that all of us who have settled here experience. It seems to me, however, that the decision to use him to promote the image of the Balearics reflects the confusion that exists about exactly what that image should be. The average Briton buying a cheap–and–cheerful holiday in, say, Magalluf is unlikely to think that Michael Douglas knows much about his expectations and needs – or that he will bump into him and his lovely wife in one of the local bars. The travel trade and the up–market vacationer know that Mr Douglas's promotional appearances and interviews are the result of a straightforward commercial arrangement which, in a sense, might be seen as a lessening of his personal commitment to Majorca rather than a strengthening of it. The basic question that needs to be asked is whether the Balearic government has made a cost–effective deal with Mr Douglas by getting the use of his reputation in exchange for taking over the costs of the Costa Nord Centre in Valldemossa which he created. The answer will never be clear because the effectiveness of the kind of personal appearances that he will make can never be quantified – whereas comparable sums of money spent in carefully–planned marketing can be measured. There is a danger that the tourist authorities may have fallen victim to the current cult of personality – always a risky thing to do because public response to personalities can be very fickle.


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