Palma.Yesterday, Hugh Morgan, the Managing Director of The Monarch Travel Group said that he was very surprised and that the fact that Paul Abrey is leaving and that he will not be replaced is a double blow for the British travel industry.
We've all had a very close working relationship with Paul and his excellent team and his phone has always been on 24/7 for all of us should we need Consular help. Not only is having a British Consul important for promoting Britain wherever it may be in the World, Paul, being in charge of the three islands, was responsible for over 10 million British holiday makers per year never mind the resident community.
I actually gave a speech to many of the consular directors in Spain in Barcelona last year and was amazed at just how much important work they all do and down there in the Balearics, as the wonderful TV series showed, they do a huge amount of work and I am surprised that they are getting rid of a Consul considering how important the region is for the British holiday industry.
All the hours the team put in in hospitals and prisons and helping us out in extreme cases, they do a brilliant job and Paul launched the balcony safety campaign which was a joint venture between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Abta.
I know all of the tour operators had a very close working relationship with him and his staff and it's going to be a double loss because of the work he spearheaded and that he is not going to be replaced.
The FCO could have at least replaced him with an Honorary Consul, I am sure there would be scores willing to volunteer to fill the post.
Yes, it is very surprising that the Consulate has been denigrated in the Balearics, Morgan added. Kate Mentink, the Assistant Director of the Balearic Government's European Balearic Centre, who as a previous Calvia Council member responsible for tourism and foreign affairs has had decades of experience with the various Consuls here in the Balearics, is equally surprised by the decisions to axe the position of Consul.
An announcement that Paul Abrey is not to be replaced was one I certainly did not expect.
I assumed that a new Consul would be in place as quickly as possible considering the millions of Britons who come on holiday, the estimated 150'000 non-resident home owners and the size of the resident British community. I know he leaves behind a highly professional and efficient team, especially with Gilian, but every good team needs a leader and that is the Consul.
Also, from the government's point of view, he was a diplomatic point of contact and over the years I've always had a very important and close working relationship with the various Consuls.
They do a huge amount of work behind the scenes and it really makes no sense to me. If FCO wants to save money, there are plenty of minor Consulates which could have been scaled down in Spain, but not here in the Balearics.