By Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, Vice-President and CEO of Meliá Hotels International
I don’t wish to talk today about my family history, that which has linked me sentimentally to Magalluf since when, as a small child, I used to accompany my father in visiting hotels in which families and couples from the whole of Europe used to proudly holiday opposite the island of Sa Porrassa and by one of the most beautiful beaches in south-west Majorca.
Nor do I wish to tell you again about the redevelopment project which three years ago we set in motion along with the Balearic Government and Calvia Council under the title of “Calvia Beach” and for which we have already renovated four hotels and invested more than 80 million euros; a project now in its third phase and for which there will be the fourth and fifth phases, attracting major investment and meaning improvements to the tourism offer and the creation of jobs.
I do not want to speak today about family or about business.
Today I want to speak about the tourist destination that we are and that we must all care for, because it is not only the revenue for hoteliers which suffers on account of its deterioration; it is society as a whole that is dragged into a vicious circle of less employment, shorter seasons, lower or zero profitability and investment, reduced welfare and security, loss of reputation and, ultimately, the abandonment of hope for a prosperous future.
Magalluf is becoming less Punta Ballena, as many are showing in the form of spectacular hotels and quality alternative entertainment, which are attracting another type of clientele, one which spends and is more demanding, therefore requiring quality promotion and for which, with the support of public investment, the second line will have been transformed into a spectacular pedestrianised avenue within a few months. As the Financial Times highlighted last week in its report “Magalluf Repackaged”, we are seeing the new hotels, beach bars and bars of quality brands which are thriving in the resort. And with its wonderful natural environment as well, when we speak of the redevelopment and of the future of Magalluf, it is not in the least bit unreasonable.
But that tiny portion of Magalluf that is occupied by Punta Ballena, which in square metres represents no more than 5%, and which makes a correspondingly negligible contribution to wealth, insists on dragging down our reputation, our image, our businesses and also our coexistence to the very lowest levels season after season.
Excesses from alcohol, from drugs and sex which in the digital society become trending topics with suggestive tags like Mamading in Magalluf, Balconing in Magalluf or Shagalluf, and which make this resort, in the eyes of the whole world, the most detestable, dirty and unhealthy.
I believe that with the latest scandal, with companies promoting degrading practices such as women committing acts of sex on men in exchange for a drink, we have reached rock bottom.
It is time to shout from the roof tops that we do not want this tourism because it is not worth it. The time has come to say that if this tourism has become a market niche chosen by some businesses for another season which is prejudicial for all, they can take their niche and their pathetic “expertise” somewhere else.
It is time to say that those who stay are those who want to work for a sustainable and future model.
We can also decide by popular vote that they take away the name of the street (Punta Ballena), a “brand” that has become so reviled.
But it is also time to act, not to give them an option so that those who seek out this type of holiday can simply not find it here. It is time for legal and administrative action and criminal proceedings if necessary. And, of course, time to fight back with an active campaign of information and public relations on behalf of Magalluf and for all of Majorca, because Majorca is not like this, Magalluf is not like this, and we will work to eradicate it without waiting until the season has finished.
We demand that the greed and unscrupulousness of a few businesses, if you can call them that, do not ruin Majorca’s reputation, especially with a market as important as the British market, nor ruin the historic opportunity that Magalluf has for recovery after years of shame.
Do not abandon us.
Translation by Andrew