THE first of over 2.000 UK travel industry delegates will start arriving in Palma today ahead of the opening of ABTA's 50th anniversary convention in Palma tomorrow. Over the next five days, all the attention of the British travel industry will be on Palma and the Balearic government hopes that, come next summer, the industry will still be thinking about Majorca. This is the fourth time that the Association of British Travel Agents has held its annual convention in Palma and the Balearic government has done everything possible to make sure it is a momentous occasion. The local authority has also invested over one million euros in the convention it sees as the platform from which to relaunch the Balearics as Britain's number one holiday destination. The convention, which is being attended by at least 2'000 delegates, will be officially opened tomorrow night at the Welcome Party at the Pueblo Espanyol. Balearic President Jaume Matas and the President of ABTA, John Harding, will welcome the delegates to Palma.
This evening, ABTA is holding a special thank you cocktail party for the local government and tourism industry chiefs on board a super yacht moored in front of the Auditorium, the convention headquarters. A huge marquee, covering around 3.000 square metres, has also been erected in front of the Auditorium where a host of events will be taking place as well as exhibits and centre stage presentations. A host of stands have also been set up.
Guest speakers at the convention include Sir Max Hastings, Tracy Edwards MBE and Digby Jones and many of the delegates will be attending workshops and abtanetworks sessions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings.
But it is not going to be all work and no play.
Golf and tennis tournaments have been organised as well as a football match and a fun run.
Delegates will also be able to go on a variety of excursions to get to know the island better while the British press are being taken on a guided tour of Santa Catalina market by chef Marc Fosh, who will also be giving a live demonstration in the market. Calvia council is also taking a group on a tour of Magalluf to show them that the resort has changed a great deal over the past few years.
ABTA has organised a wealth of nightlife for the delegates and the leading tour operators are also laying on their own parties and gala dinners.
Store holders along the Paseo Maritimo, where most of the delegates are staying, have decided to stay open on Sunday with so many people about in Palma.
The Bulletin will be publishing a 32-page special ABTA supplement on Friday to mark the special occasion and also provide the delegates, especially those who have never been to the island before, with an insight into what Majorca has to offer.