Palma.—From Monday this week, the annual shutdown after the end of the tourist season has meant the closure of hotels, businesses and the so-called complementary offer of bars, restaurants and cafeterias on a grand scale.

But the Hoteliers' Federation of Majorca said yesterday that the number of tourist places available from now until March next year is steadily declining in comparison with previous years, due in part to the number of flights from the United Kingdom and Germany to the Balearics having been cancelled.

Winter programme
Faced with the falling number of foreign visitors in the low season, airlines and tour operators joined forces yesterday in saying that Majorca needs to rethink what it has to offer in the winter months, and how best to market the product. “It's not sufficient that hotels remain open,” said the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and its German counterpart DRV in a joint statement. “There needs to be sufficiency of interest and of service in the surrounding area to attract custom.” Both ABTA and DRV acknowledged that Majorca is not a winter holiday destination as the Canary Islands might be and that a whole new approach is needed to promote the alternative attractions that the island has to offer.

There are also other factors contributing to the poor prospects for the winter season on Majorca this year. They include the cancellation of a Spanish pensioners' holiday programme which will mean the loss of 10'000 tourists, and the scheme to attract “senior citizens” from other parts of Europe will only be operating at half strength resulting in a further 9'500 visitors being struck off the list.

Hotels in the Playa de Palma and in Magalluf have been particularly affected by the cancellations. Businesses in Alcudia, Cala Millor, Peguera, Palmanova and Santa Ponsa said that the new Balearic government had not yet contributed a great deal to creating all-year-round tourism in Majorca but that the season this year had stretched right until the end of October.

The FEHM said that just 19.7 percent of hotel accommodation will remain open this month, December (13.4%), January (15.5%), February (29.6%) and March (41.9%). In some resorts of the island, places for February and March are down by between 25 and 30 percent. “If tourists can't get here, then we're out of business,” said the FEHM.

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