By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
IN 1964, the best-selling crime novelist Agatha Christie, whose image is going to be used to promote Pollensa and her favourite haunts in the North East of Majorca, was the victim of her very own “case of mistaken identity” on the island.

The “package holiday” was unveiled at the start of the 1960's when the first charter airline service from the UK was launched and within no time at all, Majorca's holiday industry was booming and, by 1964, the island's newly opened Son San Joan airport was to receive its one millionth passenger - a milestone which the Majorcan Tourist Board decided to mark.

However, the plot for the day on which the one millionth passenger, who happened to be British, arrived could not have been penned any better by Christie herself.

The Tourist Board, which is the oldest in Spain having celebrated its centenary in 2005, in association with Palma Airport, the Ministry for Tourism and Information and the Hostelry Union, organised a grand Majorcan welcoming for the one millionth passenger who was flying in on board a British European Airways flight from Manchester.

In the days running up to the arrival of the flight, the Colonel in command of the airport and his team spent hours carefully calculating just who the one millionth passenger would be.

The pilot of the BEA flight was contacted shortly before landing and informed that he was carrying the one millionth passenger, a couple from Manchester, and that they would be met by a band, local dignitaries and a troupe of Majorcan folk dancers at the steps of the plane when they landed.

When the aircraft doors opened, a typical English “lady” descended smiling and waving to the welcome committee.
However, the party was not for her and the then Director of the Majorcan Tourist Board had the embarrassing task of telling the holiday maker that the fiesta had not been laid on for her benefit but for the couple from Manchester which included the one millionth passenger. “Forgive my error, I thought all this was for me because I have written so much about the island. By the way my name is Agatha Christie,” said the disappointed tourist.

The Director of the Tourist Board at the time later wrote that it was one of the most embarrassing moments of his career.

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