By Humphrey Carter

THIS Summer, the centre of Palma is going to open until midnight as part of a campaign to breathe some life and excitement into the city.
Two weeks ago, the Balearic Minister for Commerce and Industry, Francesca Vives, revealed in an interview with the Bulletin that the Palma Hotel Association, with her ministry's full backing, would be launching a new initiative “to bring the city alive” this summer and “Palma Thursday Night Fever” will begin on July 9 and continue until September.

City centre shops, art galleries, museums and even the Cathedral are going to remain open until midnight and there will be free busses running from neighboring resorts in the Bay of Palma and free or reduced parking between 9pm and midnight.

The initiative has the full support of the Majorcan Association of Commercial Federation, (Afedeco), the Ministry for Tourism, the Ministry for Commerce, the Confederation of Businesses Associations, the Chamber of Commerce and the city council.

Tourism Minister Miguel Nadal said yesterday that the primary objective of the initiative is to try to revive the local economy. “We hope that residents will come shopping in Palma on Thursday nights when not only is it cooler, but to enjoy a host of other activities and entertainment which will going on around the centre. “But, this is also going to help boost Palma's attraction as a city break and cruise destination,” Nadal added.
The Minister admitted that he has received complaints from some of the cruise lines that cruise passengers have commented on the lack of life in Palma while city break visitors are often surprised to find that most of the shops close up at lunchtime on Saturdays and very few bars and restaurants are open on Sundays.

The Palma Thursday Night Fever initiative is the first step towards converting Palma into a thriving city on weekends.
Francesca Vives explained that this is very much a pilot scheme to get the commercial sector to change its habits and opening hours. “So far, the campaign has been welcomed by the vast majority of the retail sector and city businesses, after all, what we're trying to do is generate more trade and revenue,” Vives said.

Afedeco President Bartolome Servera said that another benefit of the initiative is that it will help to secure jobs and provide staff with an opportunity to work some extra hours.

He said that, while the pilot scheme is focused very much on the centre and historic part of Palma, retailers across the capital are welcome to sign up to the scheme - providing they are members of the Afedeco association.

In the long term, the scheme, which is going to be promoted overseas in Majorca's main holiday markets such as the UK and Germany, may be extended through the winter with special Thursday Night Fever rates offered to rail and bus passengers coming from outside of Palma.

This Sunday's Interview: the President of the Majorcan Chamber of Commerce.