by Staff Reporter
GABRIEL Escarrer, chairman of the Sol Melià hotel chain, said yesterday that the reconversion plan for the Playa de Palma, drawn up by the central and Balearic governments, should be “reconsidered.” He also expressed doubts as to its viability, because it would be very hard to find a solution for some of the hotels in the area “which are destined to close.” He was speaking during the presentation of the first international prize for studies in tourism which bears his name.
Escarrer said that the hotel reconversion plan “should be accompanied by a substantial improvement in all the resort areas.” He added that all the town councils in tourist resorts should become involved, to provide the areas with as many amenities as possible, in order to become competitive and attract clients. “There is no point in making improvements to the hotels if the surrounding area is degraded,” he said.
Escarrer went on to say that some hotels in the Arenal-Playa de Palma area were destined to close, either for their characteristics or lack of space, they are only fully booked in the month of August. “This type of hotel is condemned to death,” he said.

The leading hotelier maintained that the client must be given what he demands, and so he is in favour of the all inclusive holidays. It is a service which should be offered because there is a demand for it, he said, pointing out that 90 percent of tourism in the Caribbean is of this type. “Ninety-five percent of the clients who try the all inclusive in the Caribbean go back, so it is an offer which meets widespread acceptance,” he said.
However, Escarrer spoke out against what he called the “decaffeinated all inclusive offer,” those who offer low quality service at a low price. These hotels are unable to offer quality and lower the prestige of the sector, he said.

Escarrer expressed his concern about the current state of tourism in the Balearics, and called for greater competitiveness, diversifying the offer and spending more on promotion to attract new clients.

The Balearics must move with the times and accept the changes in tourism, and in order to compete with the new markets such as Turkey or Egypt, the product has to be divided into sectors, while retaining the “sun and sand” model.

THE first Gabriel Escarrer International Prize for Studies in Tourism, worth 12'000 euros, went to Desiderio Garcia Almeida, a lecturer in the Canary Islands.

He won the prize for a work which analyses how hotel chains try to transmit their business philosophy and standards of quality to a new establishment.


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