By Humphrey Carter
THE main reason why winter tourism in the Balearics is failing is because the industry is wasting a number of opportunities.
Global tourism industry bosses who have been attending the International Federation of Tour Operators (IFTO) meeting in Palma this week, while concerned about summer 2004, are also perplexed as to why winter tourism in the Balearics is just not happening. IFTO chairman, Martin Brackenbury, who spent yesterday on a tour of Majorca, examining the key resorts and tourist attractions, admitted that it is “disappointing” to see so many hotels closing early, “but we have to be realistic, if there is not the market demand, then it makes business sense to close” despite the negative effect such action has on the industry as well as local commerce, business and employment. “What we suspect is that the Balearic tourist industry is not making the most of what it has to offer the winter market and is wasting a number of opportunities,” he said. Brackenbury said that in Europe, one of the driving forces of the winter tourism industry is the 55-plus age group. “They're still very active, their children have left home, they have plenty of money and time on their hands, what is the Balearics doing for this market? “This is an active market which is looking for an experience,” Brackenbury said. For example, he also pointed out that every winter, five million Japanese come to Europe to play golf. “They're not interested in winter sun, they come to play golf, how many of them come to the Balearics?” he asked. “What is more, the Balearics can not guarantee the weather in the winter, we all know that. You just have to pick up the papers or turn on satellite television to find out,” he added, suggesting that the region has to stop trying to kid people about fine winter weather and has to start offering the winter market something different. Holidays to Cyprus, Malta, Madeira and the Canaries are selling extremely well to people in the UK looking for some winter sun closer to home at present while winter bookings for the Balearics are sluggish. Brackenbury has proposed that the Balearics embarks on a series of continual publicity campaigns in the key feeder markets, not only to improve the region's image, but also to remind the public about the Balearics and what the region has to offer.

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