By Humphrey Carter

THE highly successful “Thursday Night fever” late night shopping initiative was launched for the second consecutive year in Palma yesterday.
Last year's pilot scheme proved hugely popular with shops, museums, historic monuments such as the cathedral and art galleries staying open until midnight on Thursdays and this year, the campaign will involve participants remaining open until 9.30pm every day and 11.30pm on Thursdays throughout the summer.

The late night shopping initiative was unveiled by the Minister for Tourism, Joana Barcelo, the President of the Afedeco commercial federation Bartiomeu Servera, the Minister for Industry and Energy Francesca Vives, the President of the Palma Hotel federation Marilen Pol and the President of the Restaurant Association Juan Cabrera who criticised Palma City Council for not having sent any representatives to yesterday's presentation.

However, despite the presentation clashing with a Palma City Council meeting, Vives said that this year, the late night shopping campaign is going to prove vital in helping the city centre combat the recession.

The Minister for Tourism, Joana Barcelo, said that Thursday Night Fever attracted thousands of tourists and residents into the city centre last year and all of the participants from shops to art galleries enjoyed significant benefits from the campaign.

Juan Cabrera said that it also served to stimulate the social and cultural heart of the capital and brought Palma to life every Thursday night. “Any initiative which promotes greater commercial activity is welcome,” the Minister for Industry and Energy added.

The campaign also has the full backing and cooperation of the Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Travel Agents which uses the Thursday Night Fever as a promotional tool to market Palma to the domestic Spanish holiday industry.

But, while opening late during the week is considered a good idea, some sections of the tourist industry believe that a much greater effort should be made to breathe some life into Palma on the weekends with more shops open on Saturday afternoons and even Sundays when most of the capital's restaurants are also closed, in order to make Palma a serious, competitive short break and long weekend destination.