“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.