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playa de cala agulla capdepera arta

09-08-2013Was bringt die Saison?¶Die Zahle

“Attract a type of tourism that doesn’t benefit the image of the island.” This attraction, so it has been reported, is on account of discounts being offered by hotels because they’ve discovered that they have too much supply of beds and that there isn’t the demand.

I certainly don’t blame hotels for opening and for taking employees off ERTE and giving them back their dignity and their purpose. This is to be applauded, as is a business willingness to seek to re-establish something approximating normality. But is it a surprise to then discover that there is oversupply?

This is likely to be the case in the large resorts in particular, as hotels combined have such high supply. If it is not a surprise, then might one dare ask about forecasting and the bases of decision-making? I accept that forecasting, subject as it is to current uncertainties, is far from straightforward. And I suspect that hotels also accept this to be the case. There is perhaps an element of taking a punt, plus - I trust - the desire to restore dignity to workers.

Yet this dignity, we are led to believe, is not being matched by “a type of tourism”, by which one has to conclude that special offers can result in a holidaymaker who doesn’t conform with a paradigm of an ideal tourist, one classified as quality, a description I’ve long struggled with but an attribute that seems to combine respect with a certain level of income (undefined).

It is a nonsense of course. A deal is a deal, whoever the customer might be, while Mallorca has supposedly been suffering from years as a consequence of low-cost airlines. Offer cheap flights and you’ll get cheap tourists - a ridiculous association and one that is also manifestly untrue.

Low cost, price wars, discounts. All the stuff about type of tourism and these three aspects of the market has been wheeled out for as long as I can remember and well before, no doubt. Low cost, never let it be forgotten, was how Mallorca’s mass tourism industry was created. A reason why Court Line and Clarkson went bust 47 years ago was because of fierce price competition between tour operators. There’s nothing new under a Mallorcan sun. There rarely is.

“Type of tourist”. It can mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean. And for some speakers, it doubtless means (there will actually be no doubt) precluding decent people and families who don’t happen to fit into the higher strata of a socioeconomic classification system. There is a rough element. Of course there is. There always has been, and God knows I’ve witnessed enough of it down the years, but “type of tourist” can serve as a pejorative to the very many who neither merit it as a consequence of personal circumstance nor even begin to live up to it through their actions or the respect they show.

Market a product - offer or not, low-cost or not - and people will buy. It’s a consumer society; that’s what happens. And because this product is mass, there is huge supply, which has to be satisfied in some way. The agonising in Mallorca over its model of tourism presupposes a mass that is too great, and there are few who would disagree with this, including hoteliers. There are also few who can disagree, as research has proved this to be the case, that there is an element within this mass that contributes all but nothing, and which does in fact represent a net cost to Mallorca.

But there are always those businesses who will benefit in some way even from the negligibly contributing tourist. This isn’t as a result of poor forecasting; it’s precisely because it is forecast. Moreover, it owes nothing to special offers; it is product pure and simple.

Let me give you an example. Or rather, let me quote from a Tripadvisor review posted some ten days ago. “Literally hell. Guests are teens shouting and screaming all night. So much noise. Is a place where kids without money go. A waste for good tourism in the area. They should shut down that place for the future of ... .” I’ve not identified the establishment or the resort, but some of you will be able to guess, and it’s hardly as if this is an isolated negative review dealing with the same details. There are years’ worth.

This review, in a nutshell, alludes to a type of tourism that doesn’t benefit the image of the island. It is a specific type of tourism which the Balearic tourism minister has recognised does “nothing for the local economy or society”; and he’s dead right. So, over to you, minister. But while you’re dealing with it, and the same goes for others, don’t fall into the trap of demonising other certain “types” of tourist who somehow don’t match the paradigm.


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Rich / Hace 6 months

Not every tourist with money is necessarily the ideal tourist. If you really want to stop bad behavior you should ban all single males from coming to mallorca.


Son Gat / Hace 6 months

Thanks for the somewhat ambivalent assessment, although you make several excellent points.

But it's not all about money at any cost. Yes, we've all been affected by the pandemic. The resorts, in particular, are still reeling from it. For some, money - any kind of money - from anybody, may be the only interest at this moment, but the big picture is far greater than that.

One of the curiously lesser publicised aspects of tourism is the decline in "quality" of guest, which you sceptically refer to. This actually began before the pandemic, but I have little doubt the pandemic served to accelerate it. As a long time owner of a fully legal, licenced, taxpaying tourist villa, we've seen this transition first-hand. And we're certainly not alone. It's a global trend.

Before about 2019, we could accept just about any request to book without fear of guest behaviour. It was nearly always a pleasant experience for both us and the guest. Guests were generally conscientious, respectful, reasonably clean, honest and respectable. But around 2019, this started to change. Many (not all, but certainly a growing percentage of) guests started to appear a bit "off kilter", demanding unreasonable things, lying about their intent ...ranging from claiming to be "professionals" to "family" and all kinds of things in between, but turn out to be groups of young party animals or people hoping to get free accommodation by booking for two, and showing up with 8, then ravage the facility, cause damage, create public spectacles, etc. And walk away with impunity. That's expensive to rectify, in more ways than just monetarily.

Again, not even most guests are like this, but there's been a steady increase in these occurrences, not just in the balearics, but globally. In fact it's come to the point where radical measures have been employed to try to prevent it. Airbnb banned parties. VRBO has additional tools in place, such as allowing hosts to limit bookings to people of a minimum age... etc...

I seriously doubt that the hotels are immune to this. Especially as they've had to cut their margins to the bone because of oversupply. Then, many guests take advantage of the rock bottom prices, going a little crazy, cause expensive problems. Whether it's damage or big cleaning bills, or public spectacles, none of it good for business. Present and future.

I have plenty of gripes about the Balearic government's tourism ministry, and the way the handle certain aspects of tourism here. But while I often disagree with HOW they approach any issue, I happen to often agree with the WHY they're doing it. Good tourists exist. In droves. With the pandemic, we've often been left with "whatever we can get", which is always a losing strategy. We aren't biting. And we've managed to maintain a good standard. But it's far more difficult now.

"Quality" of tourism is important. For all of us, including hotels, and all businesses dependent on tourism. We need to find a way to stop attracting tourists who pay the least and cause the most problems (expense and downgrading of accomodation) making it even more difficult to attract the tourists we really want. We need to maintain a good standard to achieve that. Undesirable tourists make that even more difficult. They seem to seek quantity over quality. Catering to that will never attract better tourists.

The balearic government has been trying to "upgrade" tourism for a long time now, with some successes, but with limited support from certain parts of the tourism business. The large hotel chains such as Melia seem to be all in favour of moving away from the 3 star problematic tourist profile (which would attract a better quality of future guest), yet, here we are, after the pandemic, and the hotels are less than half full, at less than half the price. And that indeed attracts a certain "type".

Tough nut to crack.


RITA Anderson / Hace 6 months

Not all tourists want to stay in apartments or hotels. Mallorca needs to offer something different how about converting the old windmills across the island to offer a unique experience. Tourists are looking for something different not same old , same old.