By Humphrey Carter
PALMA

ON a wet August day with an air traffic controllers strike looming in just over ten days time and competing destinations like Greece having recently dropped their prices by 25 percent to attract more UK holiday makers this summer, the Balearic Ministry for Tourism is not throwing in the towel and yesterday announced that it has invested 1.5 million euros in an immediate campaign to recuperate the 130'000 British visitors the region has lost this year.

Balearic Tourism Minister, Joana Barcelo, flanked by the new Director of the Balearic Tourism Agency, Mar Guerrero and Vicent Torres, yesterday explained that the Balearic government, the Spanish Tourist Board Turespaña and the tour operators are cooperating in the 1.5 million euro campaign which also involves travel agents and the airlines.

Barcelo revealed that during the first half of this year, the number of British tourists coming to Majorca fell by 130'052 - 11.4 percent compared to the first six months of last year when the decline was a mere 4.4 percent and the primary aim of the shock tactics the cooperating parties have drawn up is to try and recuperate those lost holiday makers between now and October.

The campaign was launched at the end of last month. Last week, and, as the Bulletin has been reporting, some hotels in the Majorca, in particular the south, have literally handed over all responsibility for selling their rooms to the main tour operators at any price.

Well aware of the fact that the market this year is continuing to be price sensitive and in all a very late booking one, Barcelo is confident the aggressive marketing and promotion campaign will work.

Adverts for the Balearics are going to appear in the UK press, on the radio and TV while extra promotional material will be displayed in the main airports and travel agents while there is also going to be a concerted on-line marketing push.

Apart from growing competition from emerging non-Eurozone destinations such as Turkey and North Africa - Greece has reacted by slashing its prices because they have suffered a 15 percent fall in bookings over the past few months - the Balearics has also had to overcome the volcanic ash cloud, the World Cup, the general election and the weakness of the Pound against the Euro.

Although, the Pound has been enjoying significant gains since the start of the summer and prices in Turkey have been hiked by an average of 25 percent on the back of the country's success last year.

Mar Guerrero said that her department is also looking ahead to the winter and is hoping that BA CityFlyer continues its regular services from London City Airport to Palma while Monarch has also announced plans to operate two winter flights per week from Gatwick starting in November.

She stressed that this current campaign is not about projecting Ibiza and Majorca's image to the UK market but securing holiday bookings over the next three months.

UK tour operator sources said that they had been waiting for the Balearics to make such a move and provide some marketing funding since January.
But, it may not be too late because some of the competing destinations are starting to suffer problems with over booking.

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