22-06-2014R.D.

The campaign for more winter flights is continuing to gather momentum and now Majorca’s golf courses and yacht clubs are apparently poised to join the debate.The Bulletin can reveal today that the lack of winter flights has been a growing concern for Majorca’s golf courses and yacht clubs over the past few years and the Majorcan Golf  Federation is going to be discussing the problem at a forthcoming meeting and discussing ways of how it can take the issue forward and who it can approach to try and resolve the problem for the coming winter season.
And, while sea conditions may not be ideal all winter, as we have seen this winter, December and January were very calm, but yacht owners in the United Kingdom, face a nightmare journey  trying  to get  to Majorca and therefore, yacht clubs are also ruing the fact they too would be busier if travelling to Majorca during the winter was easier.
The Bulletin learnt yesterday that the shortage of winter flights and  the lack of  any direct flights to and from Scotland, is costing some golf courses as many as 500 golfers per winter.
That is a sizeable financial loss and it also means that golf clubs are still having to maintain their courses and facilities to the maximum quality for a relatively small market.
Golf is one of the markets the local tourism authorities  continue to claim and is one of the many keys to lengthening the season and creating a more active winter tourist industry, along with cycling, hiking, bird watching, shopping  and gastronomy, for example.
But, the Bulletin was told yesterday that, until the government stands up to the hoteliers and stops it being easier and more cost effective for hotels to close for months over the winter and lay all their staff off until the start of the next summer season, the airlines are not going to start operating major flight plans to Majorca.
It appears that we are back to the reason being the lack of hotels that are open and the finger is being pointed at the Balearic government for facilitating the winter closure of so many hotels for the shortage of flights.
And, another issue which has been raised is the continual hiking of hotel rates in the Balearics, even in the low season.
In January, hotel rates in the Balearics, primarily Majorca, were increased by just over five percent, above the national average and the industry pushing for more winter tourism, fears this may hamper low season tourism and divert potential visitors elsewhere for city breaks, which is a growing market Palma has yet to crack.
And, despite the Balearic government having announced that there has been a 12 percent increase in British winter tourism this year, hotel occupancy in Palma was only 35 percent.
In Ibiza, for example, the airport route committee met last week to discuss the island’s winter flight situation.
During the summer, the airport handles 90 flights per day, in the winter that is slashed to just nine, although one is a direct flight to London. Nevertheless, the airport has seen the problem, listened to the local industry and has decided to take action over the coming months by talking to airlines, tour operators and hoteliers in an attempt to create a winter tourism industry for the coming low season.
Many sectors of the industry would like to see the Balearic government and the Palma airport route committee take similar action considering that, as the Bulletin has been reporting,  more and more sectors of the local industry are backing the campaign for more winter flights.

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