Holiday home owners and would-be tourists who want to come to Majorca but can´t because of the lack of direct flights or having to catch a complicated and time consuming connecting flight, during the winter are not alone in their frustration over the lack of air routes.
Yesterday, the Bulletin sat down with Doug Goodman, the Managing Director of Doug Goodman PR, who has been involved with the global travel industry, in particular Majorca for the past 44 years, the President of the Majorcan Tourist Board, Eduardo Gamero and the Managing Director of Hotel Tres in Palma, Sven Rudow, to discuss, not only the shortage of winter flights, but the lack of effort which is invested by the authorities into promoting Majorca as a winter destination.
Goodman, remembers that when he was head of PRfor Thomson Holidays, the tour operator was operating direct winter flights from 26 airports across the United Kingdom and the winter programme was a success, bearing in mind back then, Palma was not open all year round and there were not half the attractions, restaurants, shops and sporting activities there are today.
Gamero remembers the ‘Winter in Majorca’ programme and would like to see that brought back to life.
“On my way here Ipassed a group of at least 20 Chinese tourists. Palma is very much open for business but what we need is consensus between the public and private sector, we need to develop a winter product and sell it.
“There’s no point putting what little money there is into promoting the summer, that sells itself. It is the winter which we need to be pushing,” Gamero said.
Rudow, who is from Norway and has worked in Palma for ten years, explained that this year, he contacted an American tour agency called Dream Trips and offered them special San Sebastian packages and it worked. “Not only did we have people coming from the States, we had people from all over Asia, it was a four night package and they took over 20 rooms, there is plenty to offer throughout the year and, running a hotel which is open all year, we’ve got to try and fill the rooms some how,” he said.
“But, it’s not just the UK. In the winter the flights from Scandinavia are reduced and this winter, they’ve also seen cut backs in Germany. Why?”
Goodman, who has been promoting Majorca to the UK market for four decades and will be bringing journalists out on trips throughout this year to experience the ‘real Majorca’, has a long relationship with the famous Hotel Bon Sol in Illetas.
He said that over the Valentine’s weekend, the hotel made a real effort and was full, although, a number of Britons who had booked rooms for a long romantic weekend were forced to cancel due to the lack of convenient flights.
“That’s not good for business and I guess, if the hotels aren’t open, there are not going to be the flights, it’s supply and demand. But there could and should be much more demand for Majorca in the winter. Not everybody wants sunshine. Palma has developed into an extremely vibrant, exciting cosmopolitan city, but nothing is being done here, or very little , to get that message across to the overseas markets,” he said.
“Just look at this weekend, the almond blossom is out, we had the carnivals and the Classic Car Show in Palma, the city was buzzing and now, you can jump on the train and nip out to the villages, like we did on Monday to see old friends near Sa Pobla. It’s so easy to get about the island be it by train, bus or hiring a car and there are hotels open, be they the more traditional kind or an agro tourism, there are enough places to stay,” he added.
Gamero knows the flight situation is difficult but he is confident a solution can be found.
Cut airport taxes
“The tourist board is always discussing this problem. Obviously we can not subsidise flights, the money is not there, but we can offer incentives. And I hope that once the Spanish airport authority AENA has been partially privatised it will be more flexible and reduce or slash airport operating taxes during the winter like other destinations.
“We need to make Palma an attractive and financially viable destination for airlines to fly to in the winter while at the same time, developing a product which all parties involved in approve of and agree to work together in promoting.
“We can not expect to keep the traditional resorts open in the winter, although they used to be, but we can concentrate on those close to Palma.
“But, like I said, we need to bring the private and public sectors together,” Gamero underlined.
“And winter flight campaigns like the one the Bulletin has launched are very important,”added Goodman.
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