The German market represents 34% of all its tourism arrives in the summer months. | Jaume Morey


How important is American tourism to Mallorca? So important that its numbers merit being specified in monthly reports from the Balearic tourism ministry and the National Statistics Institute? No, as the US is part of the rest of the world, an ill-defined mass that comprises everywhere except the main European markets. Much of Europe, therefore, is the rest of the world.

We do at least know that there has been an increase in US tourist numbers. The national tourism agency, Turespaña, reported last summer that for the first six months of 2022 there were 55,942 American visitors in Mallorca, just some 6,000 fewer than for the whole of 2021. Ok, Covid was an issue in 2021, but the half-yearly total was quite impressive if one considers that the Balearics Islands managed to attract just some 70,000 Americans during the course of 2018.

This upward statistical trend is clearly what justifies Mallorca tourism authorities defining the US as an “emerging” market that will contribute to an “excellent” 2023 tourism season (so says the Council of Mallorca). Emerging, or rather re-emerging; in 1972, Palma could count on twenty US flights a month - in February. TWA was the big name back then; bigger than United and its limited late-May to late-September schedule.

In pursuit of this emerging market, dignitaries from Palma, e.g. Mayor Hila, and hotelier representatives went to New York last July. There was a presentation at the Midtown Loft Terrace. The Midtown is Midtown Manhattan. Palma was being promoted as an all-year quality destination. Well, it would hardly have been publicised as an all-year lack-of-quality destination for a “demanding” tourism market like the US.

An emerging market, but a market that is small beer within the overall scheme of Mallorca’s mass tourism. Promoting to the Americans will incur the wrath of Més, who distrust José Hila and his PSOE party on controlling tourist numbers, but Més needn’t worry unduly; there aren’t about to be twenty American flights in February any time soon. No promotion at all, insist Més, including that of travel fairs.

But while the Midtown Loft Terrace wasn’t a fair as such, the efforts of Hila and Co. recall the words of Leonard Cohen - “First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin” - in steps from a tiny, emerging market to a huge and fully-developed market. Mallorca and the Balearics have been in Berlin for the ITB fair, which has been making a symbolic re-emergence of its own. It was when the fair was called off in 2020 that we perhaps realised how serious things were, as the cancellation was some weeks before the state of alarm.

In 2022, Mallorca received 3.9 million of a total of 4.3 million German tourists who came to the Balearics. Respectively, these figures were (approximately) 1.8 million and one million more than the second largest foreign market - the UK. These are figures which just emphasise how important German tourism in Mallorca is. For the rest of the Balearics, the German market equates to 30% of the UK. You bet your life they take Berlin, especially the Council of Mallorca, though for political consumption, naturally enough, presence in the German capital was not about promotion per se (not summer anyway) but about communicating the new “model” of tourism, one founded on sustainability and circularity in appealing to a German citizenry that was once light years ahead of that of the Balearics in terms of green consciousness.

In Berlin, it was the Council rather than Palma town hall that was up on the roof - the ALICE Rooftop events location in Berlin for a Mallorcan “fiesta” of tourism products that are alternatives to good old sun and beach. All the tour operators were invited, the very ones with whom there were subsequent meetings, when no mention of the summer was presumably made. Why would there be, when forecasts suggest that the German market will be doing just fine this summer, regardless of economic issues? Of course there would have been talk of the summer.

Mallorca may happily lose a few thousand in summer in alleviating “saturation”, but Mallorca knows that the bulk of the market - the German market - that represents 34% of all its tourism arrives in the summer months. Something else that Mallorca knows, and quite obviously, is that that this market stays put once it’s on holiday - stays put in Mallorca, that is. Don’t all markets? No, they don’t. One that tends to be peripatetic is the American market, a fact confirmed by a study carried out last year by the Barcelona-based travel and tourism data analysts Mabrian.

Covering the three months of June to August 2022, Mabrian analysed almost 39,000 US tourists who came to Spain. Of these, 2,150 or so arrived in Mallorca, but they didn’t necessarily return to the States from Mallorca. In fact, Mabrian found that 34% moved on to somewhere else other than Mallorca.

Taking Berlin, it has to be said, is a piece of cake by comparison with Manhattan, and 3.9 million Germans prove the point.